What is a diesel engine doing in the world’s most upmarket SUV?

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What is a diesel engine doing in the world’s most upmarket SUV?

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In the rarefied world of luxury products and services, there are no expenses spared and no compromises suffered. For a wristwatch, a wizened old man, using tools his grandfather bequeathed to him, would craft for you a mechanical movement, preferably one fitted with a tourbillon.

In a hotel, a personal butler would greet you at the door, usher you to your penthouse suite and unpack your Louis Vuitton steamer trunk.

When it is time to depart, he would fold your bespoke Savile Row suit with layers of gossamer-thin tissue paper, so that they arrive crease-free at your next destination. All this while you sip organic cappuccino topped with gold flakes at the Michelinstarred restaurant downstairs.

In other words, for those who pay top dollar, only the most overthetop solutions to life’s First World problems suffice. So what was Bentley thinking when it installed a diesel engine in the Bentayga, powered by the fuel of choice for lorries, tractors and taxis?

Yes, yes, we have all heard that such motors are more efficient.

But they are also inherently more rattly than petrol-driven ones, due to the way diesel fuel ignites (read: explosively) in the combustion chamber. In any case, saving that odd dollar or two at the pump is hardly a concern when you are buying an $800,000 car.

The audacious move makes Bentley the only carmaker in the top echelon, an intimate space that it shares with just RollsRoyce and perhaps Mercedes-Maybach, that has an oil burner on offer. Not just at the current moment, but in all their respective histories. It is a huge gamble in these circles, so the question is, why did Bentley place this bet?

Thing is, with efficiency comes better range. In the W12 petrol model – built for ludicrous amounts of performance – you can almost watch the fuel gauge needle inching towards zero just idling at the lights.

But Bentley claims that this one, the Bentayga Diesel, is good for 1,000km.

On paper, that is more than enough to traverse Malaysia and over the Thai border, without stopping for fuel. Even taking into consideration optimistic reckoning, the car ought to make it to Kuala Lumpur and back on one tank – in a 2.4-tonne gentleman’s club with an ERP in-vehicle unit.

Because having to stop every few hundred klicks and get your hands dirty at the forecourt is not luxury.