Review: Bentley Bentayga

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Author: | Updated: 14 Aug 2017 17:29

The Bentayga has been hailed as the most luxurious, most powerful, most exclusive SUV in the world. Now Bentley has adopted diesel power for the first time, is it still peerless?

Bentley was once described as the creator of the “world’s fastest truck”. The quip came from Ettore Bugatti, who was referring to the company’s supercharged cars of the 1920s which, at the time, were stealing the show at Le Mans.

Now though, Bentley has created a car that fits Bugatti’s description to perfection. Let me introduce the behemoth that is the Bentley Bentayga SUV. And this one just happens to be diesel.

We've been sampling Bentley's magnificent Bentayga.

Thundering onto the scene last year, the Bentayga is Bentley’s first foray into the SUV market, and it seems to have hit the spot. Rather than the world’s fastest lorry however, Bentley describes it as “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious, most exclusive SUV in the world.”

The fastest, most powerful, most luxurious, most exclusive SUV in the world.

That’s pretty accurate by all accounts, particularly regarding its rarity – so in-demand has the Bentayga been that Bentley had to ramp up production output twice last year, while in some markets you’ll still find yourself on at the bottom of a two-year waiting list. So what’s the fuss about?

Well first things first. It’s a Bentley, and it’s an SUV. The market for the latter has exploded spectacularly over the last few years and, while their similarities are few and far between, it essentially shares the same SUV appeal as the humble Nissan Qashqai.

Bentley Bentayga n/s detail

But this isn’t any old SUV. Oh no, this is “the most luxurious SUV in the world”, something its sheer size alludes to before you even open the door. This is a vehicle that can make long wheelbase Range Rovers and Mercedes GLs tremble on their comparatively puny alloys.

Unless you’ve seen one up close, it’s hard to get your head around the road presence these things have.

We’re not joking; unless you’ve seen one of these up close or storming past you on the motorway, it’s hard to get your head around the road presence this thing has. Some aren’t the biggest fan of its Continental-like front end, but you can’t deny this is a car that exudes class.

Plump for a darker paintjob like the one on this car and it’s a truly intimidating machine. At over five metres long and almost two metres wide, it’s not the stealthiest of vehicles regardless of colour choice, but it’s a certainty that it will leave you in awe.

Step inside and it's business as usual for Bentley: pure luxury.

Imposing it may be, but step inside the cabin and it’s Bentley –business as usual. It’s a company that puts luxury ahead of anything else, so it’s tempting to think of the Bentayga as the most luxurious car in the world rather than just the most luxurious SUV.

Thoroughly luxurious in a thoroughly British way, it’s a testament to its Crewe-based creators.

Acres of hand-stitched cow, a dozen choices of wooden trim, ornate organ-pull vent controls –  it’s thoroughly luxurious in a thoroughly British way. It’s certainly one of – if not the most well-finished cars currently available, and a testament to its Crewe-based creators. You can also add a very expensive gold and diamond Breitling clock to the dash, but the cost of that is a little eye-watering.

The most exclusive option in the world? Bentaygas are available with a Breitling self-winding clock that adds £150,000 to the list price.

But how roomy is it? For luxury car makers it’s as important a consideration as the materials are. Well a 2,992mm wheelbase makes sure the cabin is as capacious as it is decadent. The boot’s not bad either, as long as you don’t plump for Mulliner’s falconry or fly-fishing kit…

An exquisite interior. Hardly ground-breaking news for Bentley. Under the bonnet of this particular Bentayga however, it’s a different story. It’s the first ever Bentley to adopt diesel power and, while some W12 aficionados might turn away in disgust, in reality it’s a fantastic decision on several levels.

With 0-60mph despatched in just 4.6 seconds, the diesel’s not far off the W12’s pace.

The 4.0-litre V8 unit suits the Bentayga down to a tee, much more so than the petrol W12. A fantastic engine though it is, that high-octane 600bhp petrol is a much better prospect in a Continental Super Sports than it is in a 2.4-tonne SUV.

Delivering 428bhp and 900Nm, it makes light work of pretty much anything you can throw at it. Not that many Bentayga drivers are likely to do so, but it’d make a terrific tow car. It’s almost as quick as the petrol too, with 0-60mph despatched in just 4.6 seconds – only half a second off the W12’s pace.

Bentley badge detail shot

Although it’s owned by the German Volkswagen Group conglomerate, there’s none of the “limited to 155mph” nonsense that some of its other products must abide by – keep your foot down and that huge torque figure will propel you up to 168 mph.

The diesel allows you to plough on for almost twice the distance as the larger petrol without filling up.

What’s even more impressive about this particular diesel is that it allows this ultra-luxurious SUV to plough on for almost twice the distance as the W12. In other words, it halves the amount of fuel stops; two and a half tonnes it may be, but this Bentayga is capable of more than 35mpg.

Just to make the petrol aficionados even more incensed, the diesel unit is one of the most refined we’ve ever driven. Fire it up and its silky smooth goodness has you believing it’s not an oil burner at all. But let’s be fair; Bentley were hardly going to grace it with a tractor engine were they?

The excellent diesel engine suits the Bentayga to a tee.

Talking of tractors, we should probably consider if the Bentayga is an SUV suitable for off-road activities. Given the list price for the least expensive Bentayga is pushing £130,000, it’s fair to assume most customers won’t be hitting the rough stuff anytime soon.

Off-roading? It produces maximum torque from just 1,000rpm, meaning it won't be troubled by even the steepest of inclines.

Should the need arise however, the Bentayga will be more than up to the job. It produces maximum power from just 1,000rpm, meaning this thing is unlikely to be troubled by even the steepest of inclines.

For those determined to leave the tarmac, an optional off-road pack is on offer and gives the Bentayga several extra driving modes, as well as a 360-degree camera and extra under-carriage protection.

Unparalleled luxury makes the Bentayga the current cream of the SUV crop.

So is it the car for you? If you want “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV”, then definitely. To be honest with you it’s currently your only option.

Of course there’s Audi’s SQ7 (on which the Bentayga is loosely based if you peel back the ornate trim), Porsche’s Cayenne and the ever-popular Range Rover. In the face of the Bentayga though, they all fall rather short of the mark.

It really does have the ultra-luxury SUV market to itself at the moment. Rolls Royce purportedly has a similar off-roader in the works, but until it arrives the Bentayga’s unparalleled luxury makes it the current cream of the SUV crop.

ContractHireAndLeasing Bentley Bentayga

Model tested: Bentley Bentayga Diesel

List price:(from) £135,800
Engine:4.0-litre V8 producing 435bhp
0-60mph:4.6 seconds
Top speed:168 mph
CO2:210g/km (Band K)
Car Tax:£1,200 (First year)
£450 (standard rate)
Insurance Group:N / 50
Luggage Capacity:590 litres (with load cover removed)

 

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