Last month Bentley Motors reached out to me and asked if I’d like to experience driving its new 2017 Mulsanne, a car priced around $350,000 that conjures up those old Grey Poupon commercials as you drive through the English countryside.
Without hesitation I said yes and decided to make it a social experiment of sorts and the opportunity to take you "Behind the Brand" of one of the most luxurious brands on the planet.
I was curious to know:
- Would driving a luxury car like this change my mood or attitude?
- Would I get any perks or special treatment from strangers?
- Was there a chance, with most people staring into the screens of their phones, that no one would notice?
Not a chance . . .
I flew into San Francisco from LA for what would be an entire day experiencing the Bentley brand. Its tagline is #BeExtrodinary, so I had high expectations.
As I exited the airport, there was a bright royal blue Mulsanne waiting for me at the curb, and I got in to drive. I could feel all eyes looking at me as people exited the airport to catch a cab or be picked up by friends. It as was if they were looking extra closely, maybe expecting Jay Z to be in the car with me.
Watch the video above and you'll get my full experience with this brand. As for the social experiment, here are my thoughts:
I found it nearly impossible to hold back a smile every time I got behind the wheel. The Mulsanne is a ridiculously comfortable and fun car to drive. There are remote controlled pop-up monitors hidden in the back seats for passengers to watch movies. Every detail of fit and finish has been well thought out to enhance the driving experience.
Did this car change me? Yes, but in an unexpected way.
I confess that I felt like a celebrity driving it. Kids pointed and asked if they could take selfies with me. Men in minivans gave thumbs up, and I got grins when I stopped at stoplights. Women of all ages were more talkative around me, and I got a lot of double-takes and friendly smiles from strangers. People were definitely nicer to me in general, from those at the gas station to people at the fast food drive-thru window.
Driving a Bentley gave me renewed confidence that I don't typically feel when I drive my "normal" car. I knew I only had it for a limited time but felt grateful for the opportunity. No joke, temporary or not, endorphins kicked in and I felt awesome. That confidence meant I was in a good mood and more positive than usual. Like being on vacation. When I was more positive it seemed to spread to those around me and good things happened.
That said, extra care should be taken not to confuse attention with entitlement or talent. Depending on the strength of your character, driving a Bentley may require (more) self-control and humility. The Mulsanne gave me a glimpse at how (perceived) fame could make a person corrupt if that person begins to believe his own hype. In other words, don’t let all of that attention or the fact that you're driving a car that costs as much as a house turn you into a jerk.
See more episodes on Behind the Brand's YouTube channel.
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