Bentley's Bentayga is the fastest, the most luxurious and the priciest SUV out there. You can even have it with a diesel engine. The question is whether all this is a step too far for the British brand.
Bentley has been clever to spot a gaping hole in the SUV market above the ubiquitous Range Rover and have developed this Bentayga model to fill it. Originally launched with a huge 600PS W12 petrol engine, it's also now available with a slightly more sensible 435PS 4.0-litre diesel V8. Either way, it can go properly off-road and packs some impressive statistics for sure.
While some may be surprised to see Bentley producing a SUV vehicle, those who've kept an eye on the market have had plenty of time to get used to the idea. We had our first hint at what would become the Bentayga way back in 2012 with the EXP 9 F prototype. Here, elements like as the engine and overall size gave us a good indication of what was to come, though much has changed visually since the first controversial concept was shown. Taking on board criticisms from press and potential customers alike, Bentley have made sure they put the 'sport' into their SUV. Both the W12 petrol unit and the V8 diesel engines aim to give best-in-class performance, while the styling looks very Bentley-orientated. Underneath, there's architecture shared with the MK2 model Audi Q7 and the third generation Porsche Cayenne. If the Q7 is anything to go by, that bodes very well indeed.
It's fair to say that engines will dominate the driving experience of the Bentayga. Most will want the V8 diesel which generates 435PS, enough to make this the world's fastest diesel SUV, rest to 62mph dispatched in just 4.8s en route to 168mph. Plus there's an awesme 900Nm of torque, so almost nothing will stand in this car's way. The first alternative is a 542bhp 4.0-litre petrol V8. Go for the top petrol option and you get a 6.0-litre W12 unit with 608PS and the same 900Nm of torque. Despite this variant's prodigious 2,422kg kerb weight, 62mph from rest takes just 4.1s - faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera. Flat out, you'll be doing 187mph, a figure way beyond any of its competitors. To make sure the big brute doesn't embarrass itself around corners, there's a fast acting 48v electric anti-roll bar system. Unlike conventional fixed anti-roll bars, this allows the Bentayga to remain supple over bumpy roads whilst still resisting roll around the twisties. It also ensures the big Bentley has plenty of ability off the beaten track even if most owners will probably never try it out. There's even the ability to raise and lower the car on its standard air suspension, perfect to make hooking up a horsebox or speedboat that much easier.
Being part of the Volkswagen Audi Group, Bentley was provided with the latest 'MLB-Evo' platform that underpins the second generation Audi Q7 and will go under a variety of other VAG SUVs. There's plenty of aluminium within the structure, along with some composites and good old fashioned steel too. Don't think of this as a bad thing though, Bentley have simply used this as a starting point and thoroughly engineered it for their own purposes. At 5.14 meters long, it's bigger than even a long wheelbase Range Rover, although slightly lower to give a sportier feel. Step inside and you can really tell why the Bentayga weighs so much despite the high tech chassis. Everywhere you look, there's acres of leather and wood covering every surface imaginable, while if something looks like metal, it will be. The sweep of the dashboard is said to echo the wings of the Bentley badge and certainly looks very attractive - assuming you've chosen a tasteful colour scheme. Infotainment is taken care of by a smart 8" touchscreen system that delivers a class-leading navigation system along with on-board Wi-Fi for mobile devices and a removable 10.2" Bentley Entertainment Tablet for rear seat passengers.
Bentley describe the Bentayga as the "fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world". It should therefore come as no surprise to hear that it'll cost a pretty penny to purchase. It'll take well over £150,000 to own one but, as with all Bentleys, this is only the beginning. You can pick between a three person bench or two individual seats in the back with a wide centre console. On the subject of seats, you can even get an' eventer package' with a fold-out bench in the boot. There's also an offroad package, three levels of hi-fi and fully adaptive cruise control with auto brake. Those who really want to push the boat out can opt for the full Mulliner treatment and even a Breitling Tourbillon clock in the dash. Standard kit includes a panoramic glass roof, electric massage seats, Bluetooth infotainment with sat-nav, plenty of leather and wood, air suspension, climate control and that monstrous W12 under the bonnet. Safety features include the usual airbags, ABS, stability control and brake assist. Optional items include a rear crossing traffic warning, road sign recognition and a parking assist system.
If you have to ask yourself whether you can afford to run a Bentayga, don't bother reading any more of this section. Even the V8 diesel can only manage 35.8mpg on the combined cycle and 210g/km, though Bentley points out that this makes this variant the most efficient car it makes. The brand claims a range of 621 miles for this derivative - allowing owners to, for example, drive from London to Verbier, Bordeaux or the Scottish Highlands on a single tank. With the twin turbocharged W12 petrol unit, combined fuel consumption is a lowly 22.1mpg, necessitating a giant 87-litre fuel tank - you certainly wouldn't want to have to fill one up. CO2 is similarly frightening at 292g/km, enough to put it firmly into the top bracket for tax and first licence rates. At least the three year manufacturer's warranty is unlimited mileage.
Bentley had but one goal when they decided to create the Bentayga; to create the best SUV in the world. You could argue that in setting the price as high as they did, the Anglo-German luxury brand had an easy time of it. After all, chuck enough cash at something and it's bound to come out good, right? In reality, there have been plenty of more expensive cars that have been anything but good. The Bentley is not one of those vehicles. Sure, the W12 petrol version is more than a little extravagant, but there are plenty of markets where fuel is significantly cheaper than in the UK. On these shores, the diesel will be the mre popular choice. What you can't argue with is the sumptuousness of the interior, cutting edge chassis systems and astonishing levels of performance. As for the looks, it may be odd to see Bentley styling cues on an SUV but overall it works. Expect the Bentayga to be a big success.
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