On the cyber highway with iBentley

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:00am


It has five LCD monitors - two of them on touchscreen iPads - a Mac Mini, three Apple keyboards, an iPod docking station and runs its own Wi-fi hotspot.

No, it's not your company's IT department: it's the backseat of the new Bentley Mulsanne 'executive interior concept' car, or EIC. 'When we talk about it, we call it the iBentley,' jokes Kingston Chang, Bentley China's assistant general manager .

Extreme customisations like the EIC are just one of the many ways that global automakers like Volkswagen's Bentley, BMW's Rolls-Royce and Daimler's Maybach are catering to booming mainland demand for ultra-luxury limousines.

From the backseat of the Bentley EIC, passengers can simultaneously watch a favourite DVD, check e-mail, browse the internet, send Twitter-like Weibo messages and listen to music on iTunes - all while hurling down the highway at a top speed of nearly 300 km/h.

A Bentley app installed on the twin iPads acts as a touchscreen remote control to let passengers control the various iGadgets, adjust the air conditioning, reading lights, and so on. The car, which made its Asian premiere in Guangzhou yesterday, also features more traditional non-digital refinements, such as a Tibaldi fountain pen in the armrest, wood-grained trim throughout and a mini-refrigerator stocked with a bottle of champagne and two flute glasses.

At 9.2 million yuan (HK$11.25 million), the EIC isn't for everyone. But with cars like this, isn't that the point?