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Tuesday , December 18 , 2012
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Bling on the Bentleys!

- Deluxe drive in top gear with Porsche entry

Bimmer, Benz or Bentley? The car conundrum just got tougher for Calcuttans with cash to spare and a weakness for wheels.

Bentley, among the world’s most coveted automobile brands, has just tested the city waters with a weekend showcase while Porsche is already challenging the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz with a full-fledged dealership in the making.

And surprise, surprise, the much-generalised “price-sensitive” Calcuttan has shown himself capable of splurging on a super-luxury car in the middle of a slump at the bottom end of the market!

“We (Porsche) have been operating here since October and have already delivered 14 cars,” Devashish Vyas, the chief executive of the Porsche Centre, told Metro.

German powerhouse Porsche, with base price tags ranging from Rs 47 lakh for the Boxster to Rs 94 lakh-plus for the 911 (pronounced nine eleven), intends going full blast with its marketing campaign once its first showroom in the east opens in Topsia next March.

For those willing to spend several more lakhs on their riding (and preening) pleasure, there’s Bentley, the quintessentially British marque that handcrafts its cars in a factory in Crewe.

Bentley, which like Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group, showcased a part of its fleet for the first time in Calcutta over the weekend. The Bentley beauties on display at the Hyatt Regency driveway on Sunday were the majestic Mulsanne, the Continental GT, the Continental Flying Spur and the Continental Flying Spur Speed.

While the Continental GT with its two-door V8 engine is available for Rs 2.4 crore and above, the Continental Flying Spur starts at Rs 2.14 crore and is the “bestseller” Bentley in India.

The flagship Mulsanne, a four-door classic, can be yours for Rs 4.10 crore, while the Continental Flying Spur Speed with a W12 engine will make a dent of Rs 2.38 crore in the owner’s bank account.

“There are currently two to three Bentleys in the city, while 300 of them are running across the country,” said Amy Arora, the brand manager of Bentley Motors India.

War of the luxe wheels

Delhi has two Bentley dealerships and Mumbai and Hyderabad on each. So would Calcutta be next? “We are pretty excited about this market. It has huge potential. It is shedding its conservativeness and opening up very fast,” Arora said.

Porsche, of course, has already chosen Calcutta to be its sixth port of call in India. The 1100sq ft Topsia showroom will have all the models, including the Cayenne, the Boxster, the Cayman and the 911, on display.

“Each of the Porsche cars is different from one another and highly customised. If a customer demands bigger alloy wheels, the wheel arches of the car are cut accordingly. There are about 150 options that customers can change in their Porsche cars,” Vyas said.

From the date of an order being placed, a Porsche usually takes three months to be built. Another month is required for transportation.

But will making it easier to own a customised Porsche in Calcutta translate into being able to drive it on the city’s notoriously bad roads? “It is the most practical car. Two-thirds of all Porsches ever built are still running,” insisted company representative Vyas.

He hopes to sell at least 120 cars through the city dealership in 2013. And for those who don’t aspire to be among those 120 Porsche owners, there’s always the Topsia Maruti-Suzuki showroom next door.