This was going to be one helluva junket. The plan was to join seven other hacks – one Brit, four Yanks and a couple of Strines – driving Bentleys from the UK to Geneva in time for Europe’s season-opening motor show. We’d go in pairs and swap seats regularly so everyone had a decent stint in each of four recently launched Crewe models – a Bentayga Speed, a Continental GT V8 Coupé, a GT Convertible and a Flying Spur saloon. Sounded a great plan.
Our starting point would be Leeds Castle in Kent, and we’d go there on the Friday evening – well before the show’s Tuesday official opening – to get to know other members of our party over dinner before heading 750 miles across Europe. There was to be a chateau stopover on Saturday, then a dash over the Alps to a lakeside hotel on Sunday – perfect timing for Geneva’s Monday pre-opening show events.
Years ago, Geneva was a leisurely affair for the scribbler: drive across, return after a couple of days with a full notebook, spend the rest of the week writing your stories for print. Easy. But these days, it’s a cut-throat competition. Video crews are everywhere (from six-person, seen-it-all pros to jostling individuals with iPhones) and the competition to post instant info is desperate. Beating your opposition to a story by 10 minutes is a big win. For traditional ‘inkies’ (like me), the challenge is to avoid being trampled by platoons of entitled influencers spouting nonsense into a black hole.
Under such circumstances, it may strike you that taking two carefree days and three luxurious nights getting to the Swiss city was a bit over the top. Perhaps it was. But Bentley likes to do things in style. They sell the sizzle to sell the sausage. They reckon showing these media types the life that goes with Bentley ownership helps them understand the cars, and they’re right.