Imagine the embarrassment. You’ve invited friends round to have a look at your new Bentley Bentayga and one of them notices that it’s fitted with the standard clock and not the optional Breitling version.
Beyond its performance and abundant luxury, the Bentayga has a serious amount of technology that is at a new level for Bentley, far past anything fitted to the Continental, Flying Spur, or Mulsanne. The drivetrain starts with Bentley’s famous W12 engine configuration, but this motor is all-new, and it’s still twin-turbocharged. In the Bentayga it makes 600 horsepower and 664 pounds-feet of torque, plus it’s fitted with cylinder deactivation for better efficiency. More importantly, it does zero to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and tops out at 301 km/h (187 mph). Yes, this SUV posts supercar numbers, but don’t forget that Bentleys are all about effortless performance.
And boy can you add some options to the company’s first ever SUV. We’re used to testing cars that are carrying a few quids’ worth of extras, but our Volcanic Black Bentayga is what the trade call fully loaded.
Take the paint. It’s the optional pearlescent finish which adds a cool £9,395. I presume you can’t buy a tin of it at Halfords.
The four standard drive modes – Sport, Bentley, Comfort, and Custom – integrate the sophisticated chassis’ settings, from ride height to damping to active anti-roll control, as well as stability and traction, and combine it with engine and transmission calibration to create truly distinct driving dynamics based on the driver’s preferences. Those four modes are just the starting point, however. Then, there’s the optional Off Road Specification with four additional drive modes that allow the Bentayga to handle snow to sand and everything in between. Indeed, we test drove the Bentayga through the dunes at Glamis in California and, other than burying the Bentley with our novice-level sand driving experience, it performed flawlessly all while riding on standard all-season tires.
Sand dunes weren’t enough for this first drive, either, as Bentley arranged some proper off-roading that unequivocally highlighted the Bentayga’s off-road prowess. Thirty-percent grades aren’t a problem for the all-wheel-drive system on original-equipment tires. What’s more, Cameron Paterson, Bentley’s Director of Whole Vehicle Engineering, said the engine’s oil system was designed to operate up to a thirty-degree tilt.
Dynamically, you immediately appreciate that this is a big vehicle, but with 664 lb-ft of torque available at 1,350 RPM, maximum thrust takes a small push of the throttle. Bentley says the Bentayga is two-and-a-half metric tonnes, but I think that might be a little optimistic and I suspect it’ll cross some real-world scales at a bit over that figure.
Bentley launched its SUV in Palm Springs, California, where within 100 miles you can find challenging off-road conditions, a race track and sand dunes. We were taken to all three.
As we proved, the Bentayga will happily play storm the sandcastle. It’s also not bad at thundering around a race track, although I really can’t imagine anyone will ever take it around one.
I forgot to have a look at the trip computer while we were on the circuit – the official combined fuel consumption figure is 21.6mpg – but it’ll have been in single figures. However, emissions and economy don’t matter in a car like this. Comfort and luxury do, and here the Bentayga scores 11 out of 10.
The air suspension is comfortable and the acres of leather look gorgeous. Later, Bentley plans to
add a seven-seat version, diesel and V8 petrol engines, and a hybrid powertrain.
Here’s a prediction. By the end of the year you won’t be able to move for Bentaygas in the players’ car parks at Premier League clubs.
And I’ll bet that a few of them have even got the flash Breitling clock in them, too.