Bentley’s first SUV is massive, expensive and royally powerful.
DURING my Bentayga testdrive, I didn’t feel like a David Ting. I felt like a David Beckham. Rich, handsome, successful. The car clearly scores in terms of wealth and success.
Its base price could buy three units of the new Audi Q7 (whose platform is closely related to the Bentayga’s), and over 5500 orders worldwide have already been placed with Bentley (2000 more than the planned production run for 2016). However, the car doesn’t score a goal in terms of handsomeness.
The exterior is impressive in size, build quality, colour choices (107, including nine varieties of black) and shiny bits (those grilles and wheels, of which there are seven diff erent designs), but it’s not very pretty. If it was diffi cult to design a Bentley SUV that doesn’t look like a chunkier and clumsier Flying Spur, it was even harder to make the vehicle perform with flying colours.
The Bentayga can reach 300km/h (301, to be exact), and hit 100km/h from a standstill in just over 4 seconds. The claimed acceleration capability is believable, and the way the car storms from 120km/h to an indicated 220km/h, without losing breath, suggests that the top speed is realistic.
This 6-litre 600bhp 12-cylinder royal “hot hatch” performs ridiculously well for its size and weight, and can safely go off-road, too
Powering the 2.44-tonne Bentley behemoth is an equally monstrous engine, a 6-litre twinturbo W12 with 600bhp and 900Nm. An 8-speed automatic gearbox transfers the forceful energy to all four wheels.
The car has standard air suspension, electrically controlled active anti-roll bars, four ride heights and four chassis driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Custom and Bentley, which is like “Comfortable Sportiness”) for diff erent situations/preferences. Four more modes are available with the optional All Terrain Specification – Snow, Ice & Wet Grass; Dirt & Gravel; Mud & Trail; and Sand. These should cover every off -road terrain between Middle East and Middle-earth. Moving slowly through the historic centre of Marbella, the car rides as gently and quietly as a limousine, something like Bentley’s Flying Spur.
Moving even more slowly in the off -road course, the vehicle is surefooted enough. But a modern Range Rover would probably be even more confident in the same conditions, and its outdoorsy driver might be encouraged to take more chances. Moving rapidly on Spanish motorways, the car is extremely smooth and very well insulated, with a 150km/h fast cruise feeling no “quicker” than 100km/h.
On the curvier sections of Sierra Blanca’s mountain roads, the Bentayga behaves like a gigantic hot hatch with 12 turbocharged cylinders – dashing ahead on straight stretches of tarmac, diving into corners and eagerly tackling them, with surprisingly little body roll, too.
Not so “hot hatch”, though, are the engine tone (Bentley’s V8 sounds nicer than this W12), automatic transmission (which could react more promptly to the driver’s pedal/paddle input) and brakes (which have to work hard to slow/stop this huge sports utility vehicle). The spacious and luxurious cabin, available as an “Upper Class” four-seater or “First Class” five-seater, is like an English castle on 21-inch polished alloy wheels (22s and 20s are also available). It has plush leather (15 choices of cowhide), posh wood (seven natural veneers to choose from) and classy carpeting, plus Bentley’s cool chrome touches.
Artistic “B” motifs decorate the exterior, which gets a B for style compared to the goodlooking Land Rover Range Rover.
Limo levels of space, comfort, luxury and technology, plus options galore, plenty of scope for personalisation, and a big 590-litre boot.
The standard hi-fi system off ers a 700W amplifier and 12 speakers, while the “highest” hi-fi system boasts an 1800W amplifier and 18 speakers – loud enough to fill Buckingham Palace with the greatest hits of Queen.
It’s a Bentley, so the wealthy can also customise the interior, all the way to the limits of their imagination and affl uence. Every seat is incredibly comfy, with the one for the driver so shiok that after I drove for 100km, I still felt as relaxed as I was in the first 100m.
State-of-the-art infotainment, advanced driver assistance, beautiful bells and wondrous whistles complete the new Bentley. The most awesome option is a bespoke Breitling Mulliner Tourbillon fitted to the dashboard, with a dedicated drive unit to keep the fancy clock wound automatically.
The gadget adds a whopping £100,000 ($210,000) to the Bentayga’s base price of £160,000, and Breitling intends to make just four pieces per year for Bentley. In my opinion, the best feature of the sporty luxury SUV isn’t its equipment, powerful performance, versatile practicality or multi-terrain 4x4 capability.
It’s the Bentayga’s ability to make a David Ting feel like a David Beckham