At our car detailing studio in Hampshire, we feel fortunate that we welcome many car marques and models through the doors. As you can imagine, we often compare different types of vehicles when we see them, giving us an idea for a run of blog articles. Yes, it’s the series you’ve been waiting for as we put car marques head-to-head!
A short history of two luxury car marques:
For nearly seventy years, Rolls Royce owned Bentley. However, they separated in 1998. BMW now owns Rolls Royce and the VAG Group (Volkswagen/Audi) owns Bentley.
Both brands stand as bastions of luxury, workmanship and decadence. However, after the sale, their ways of doing business diverged somewhat. Bentley aimed to reach sales of 20000 units a year, while Rolls Royce looked no further than 6000 units a year. To achieve both of those targets, more automation had to be brought into the production lines. At one point both marques were painstakingly hand-built at one workstation after another. However, some of the models now share underpinnings from siblings their parent companies sell under other names. For example, the Rolls Royce Ghost and Wraith share quite a lot of unseen architecture with the BMW 7 series range. A Bentley GT Continental or Flying Spur receives a number of contributions from premium Audi models, such as the A8.
Now, this doesn’t make them bad cars, not at all; it’s good business. But the real bloodlines can be found in the Rolls Royce Phantom and the Bentley Mulsanne. Both are still largely handbuilt and bespoke, the peak of their family trees.
The average age of the typical Rolls Royce or Bentley owner has dropped significantly, too. As of 2019, the average Rolls Royce owner was in their early 40’s. This represents new markets both marques sell to, such as China. But it also reflects how their brands have been adopted into the younger culture, with rap artists like 50 Cent and his chromed Rolls Royce Phantom. The Bentley Continental GT is frequently driven by wealthy young football players.
But there is still a hardcore old-school customer for these cars. Some years ago, a client of our car detailing studio in Hampshire mentioned he was considering buying a new Bentley. ‘Fancy a Flying Spur this time?’ I asked. There was a long pause as he carefully considered his reply. Eventually, he said, ‘Young man, of course not. That is a poor man’s Bentley. And we don’t want poor men driving Bentleys’. However elitest that might be, the sentiment and delivery both made me laugh. He was, of course, in the market for a Mulsanne, and when it finally arrived, what a magnificent thing it was.
Head-to-Head Rolls Royce vs Bentley:
Character and Look:
There are no small vehicles in either marque’s offerings. Both Rolls Royce and Bentley have their own distinctive styling, you’re not going to mistake one for the other. Unlike the 1960s, when some models were pretty much identical, save for the Flying B or the Spirit of Ecstasy emblem on the grill.
Both marques offer imposing yet elegant vehicles. Distinctive, yet sophisticated. Which you choose will be very much a personal preference.
Sitting in a Rolls Royce or a Bentley is a wonderful experience. The materials, the stitching in the leather, and the choice of trim, whether it be wood, metal, or a modern choice such as carbon fibre, are all finished perfectly. Look up, and you might be lucky enough to be in a car with the Starlight headliner. Every car has a unique constellation, using between 800 and 1600 tiny fibre optic light fibres carefully placed by hand.
I once heard that you chose a Rolls Royce to be chauffeur-driven but a Bentley to drive yourself. If you look inside a Rolls Royce Phantom, while the driver’s seat isn’t exactly short-changed, there is no doubt that the emphasis is on the comfort of the passengers.
As the owner of a car detailing studio in Hampshire, I have been fortunate to drive most of the modern Bentley and Rolls Royce offerings. I can honestly say there is nothing in this world like travelling in the back of a Rolls Royce. It is genuinely like a magic carpet, insulating you from the world with double-glazed glass, thick, luxurious carpet, and soft, sumptuous leather seats that recline and massage you while wafting along.
A Bentley still offers exquisite luxury, but I think they are just as enjoyable from the driver’s perspective. I love the way the dials and controls are very much angled for the benefit of the driver, more like a cockpit, especially if you happen to be in a car with the turned aluminium dash surround.
A Bentley tends to ride a little firmer, a little more sporty. Whereas the Rolls Royce floats and wafts, the Bentley feels more taught, with body control in check through sophisticated chassis control, although there is no hiding the bulk of either car.
Power and Performance:
Rolls Royce historically would never be drawn into quoting power or performance figures, simply describing the performance as adequate. They used to favour the 6.75-litre V8 (as did Bentley), a wonderfully relaxed engine producing effortless torque low revs. Making noise and fuss was considered uncouth! These days, this has been replaced with versions of the BMW V12, sometimes with twin turbos, so it’s fair to say performance will be more than adequate.
For the range-topping Mulsanne, Bentley still uses a version of that 6.75-litre engine, albeit very much modernised with much greater performance and efficiency. In the Continental and Flying Spurs, they use VAG group engines. Either a 4-litre, twin-turbo V8, borrowed from the Audi RS6, or a spectacularly engineered 6-litre, twin-turbo W12 engine. This makes the engine significantly more compact than a traditional V12 and has an amazing noise, and character of its own (and usually north of 600bhp, so plenty of performance).
When considering these luxury marques, one really shouldn’t speak of such things! As the old saying goes, ‘If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.’ That said, it’s fair to assume you’ll not be in any new Rolls Royce or Bentley for much less than £250k, easily rising to £400k+ for a very bespoke example.
Which car would we choose?
Definitely a Rolls Royce. A Rolls Royce represents and embodies everything we do at Auto Curators. It’s not a compromise, it’s unapologetically decadent and just makes you feel wonderful.
I love driving a Rolls Royce Phantom, and on the occasions, I’ve done so, I’ve said that nothing can clear traffic in front of you on the motorway faster unless you have blue lights and a siren. That said, I’d adore a Bentley Mulsanne in my garage. I love the racing heritage of Bentley, I love their ethos, and I’d never get tired of the sort of mid-range shove that 1020nm of V8 torque delivers!
All vehicles are welcome at our car detailing studio in Hampshire:
Finally, please remember, while we’ve started this series of head-to-heads with luxury, you don’t need to own a Rolls Royce or Bentley to enjoy our vehicle detailing services; you simply need to own a vehicle you love.
We are always happy to give your daily driver the love and attention it deserves! Contact us HERE.