Trying to choose between three luxurious Grand Tourers, the least expensive of which will set you back the greater part of a million dirhams, is difficult. Doing so on a freelance writer’s salary and trying to imagine which you would prefer to purchase, is three times more difficult.
So when scrutinising the Aston Martin Vanquish, Bentley Continental GT Speed and the Rolls-Royce Wraith, I found myself asking: “If I were to buy a country estate, would I prefer one with trout fishing rights, lakeside views, or a Capability Brown garden?” You see, tricky.
As good as it may be, I’m afraid in the company of its younger rivals, and despite being a 2013 model, the Vanquish is getting on a bit in terms of technology. And since we have ultimately to pick a winner, it was the Aston Martin that left to take an early bath.
The Bentley, being the ‘less expensive’ of the two remaining vehicles, would at first glance appear to be the better value. With 616bhp on tap from its twin-turbo W12 engine, a 0-100kph time a smidgen over four seconds and a maximum velocity in excess of 325kph, there’s a reason this car’s called Speed. The less ostentatiously named Wraith boasts 624bhp from a V12, identical torque at 800Nm but a top speed limited to a mere 250kph. I know, ‘limited’ to 250kph. It’s from the same luxury GT guidebook as ‘less expensive’. But then the Rolls-Royce is almost half a metre longer than the Bentley, and when it comes to luxury GTs, isn’t it true that size really does matter?
Possibly, but what definitely does matter is refinement, and in the Bentley, that means a choice of 17 different hide colours, optional contrasting stitching to match your optional contrasting seatbelts and beautiful wood inlays, and the tricky decision as to whether or not to opt for regular or cross stitch on the steering wheel. The Wraith, though, will see the GT’s cross stitch and raise it one, since having more than 1,300 fibre optic cables sewn into the roof lining allows the customer to create, and I quote; “your very own star-filled sky”. So that’s the construction of entire galaxies covered then. Your move, Bentley.
Being on the move of course is what really counts, and since the GT Speed is capable of great, er, speed, it should come as no surprise that with adjustable air suspension, carbon ceramic brakes and a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, it not only devours entire continents for breakfast but does so with perfect manners. Sony once described the ride as “restrained athleticism”, and who am I to disagree?
So how does the Wraith respond to such competition? Dejan says, “A Wraith is...always unperturbed and confident in its capabilities, executing them with panache and grace”. And he’s right. The unflustered manner in which it piles on the pace makes you believe that your right foot rests on unlimited reserves of torque. There are no histrionics even when it’s doing triple-digit speeds. And despite the waftability you know that you’re always in control and not astride a runaway locomotive, which is how the Bentley can feel sometimes.
So there you have it; two English gentlemen with German housekeepers, both with impeccable manners and dressed by the finest outfitters.
One has speed and pace, the other panache and grace. But as a grand tourer, there simply isn’t anything out there that can match the Wraith. It’s spectacular and it’s our GT of the Year.