The true test of a newly purchased classic is its first long run. Hundreds of miles on a journey taking in the UK’s busy roads are likely to show up any faults or flaws that might need attention or sow the seeds of regret.
Attending a friend’s wedding in Kent seemed to be an ideal opportunity for the Turbo R to stretch its legs as well as lend a sense of occasion to the trip – although it wouldn’t be deployed as a wedding car.
While the bulk of the mileage would be completed on motorways there would be a fair share of sweeping A-roads and country lanes.
At 25 years old, my Turbo R is a more relaxing motorway tool than most of the modern cars I get to drive, with barely 2,000rpm on the clock at 70mph in top gear (my old Jensen SP showed a rather more urgent 2,800rpm) and the only noise intrusion from the 245/45 section tyres and wind rushing around the A-pillars.
Off the motorway, the motor car feels more agile than it looks. A chassis set-up 50% stiffer than the Bentley Mulsanne of the 1980s did much to disguise its 2,300kg bulk, and the retro-fit 17-inch alloys also make it feel a little more surefooted when clinging on to the asphalt around corners.
But it still pays to be circumspect on single-track roads with blind bends.
One of the other wedding guests had travelled in a modern Bentley – a 2012 Continental GT – and it was interesting to park them alongside each other and witness how the brand and the products had evolved in the previous two decades.
A fairer comparison, perhaps, would be the latest Mulsanne rather than the Volkswagen-derived cars, but the Conti shows how the marque has tried to recapture some of its sports heritage (despite being barely any lighter than my Turbo R) in the sweeping lines of the current products.
My Turbo R, which was introduced a few years after the Mulsanne Turbo, was only the start of trying to differentiate Bentley from the Rolls-Royce motor cars, and now with the flying B owned by Volkswagen Group and the Spirit of Ecstasy under BMW control the different paths taken by both are much more obvious.
As the Turbo R completed its 330-mile round trip, it occurred to me that more than 300 miles were covered on a single tank of unleaded. It equated to 19.1mpg – a figure I was very happy with.