Our motoring expert Chris Walsh test drives the Bentley’s first SUV, the Bentayga – which takes the category to powerful and luxurious new levels
There is a lot to like and a lot to love about the new Bentley Bentayga. I like the fact that it offers the widest range of on and off-road drive settings of any previous Bentley (eight!). I like the fact that the development programme for the Bentayga has been the most exhaustive in the brand’s history, ranging from the gravels of South Africa, to the muddy fi elds of Cheshire.
I also like the fact the Bentayga has been around the Nürburgring Nordschleife a few times just to see what it can do. But there is no hiding it – I simply love the fact that the Bentley Bentayga is now the most powerful and fastest SUV in the world. This is due, of course, to the all-new twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine dropped into the front.
It combines 600 bhp with 900 Nm of torque to offer up a 0–60 mph time of 4.0 seconds – numbers that I’m sure you’ll agree, do not belong in a review for an SUV! Let’s just say that acceleration in the Bentayga is an event. However, I strongly urge you not to have too much fun with it, because although there is no denying that it is a massive step forward over previous tall and heavy SUVs of old, the mysterious forces of physics continue to interfere when you go anywhere near a corner full tilt.
So back to things I do like. And I like the Bentayga’s styling – a lot. It is pure Bentley and it balances external athleticism with internal class in equal amounts. From the four LED headlamps to the large matrix grille, to the incredible cabin detail, the Bentley DNA is hard to miss. As with all Bentleys, the Bentayga comes with multi-mode air suspension. Four different modes are available, which can be manually selected when tackling more severe off-road surfaces or gliding down a freshly tarmacked autobahn. The air suspension comes with several advantages, which can include lowering the rear suspension via a switch in the boot, to ease loading and horsebox hitching.
And I would be a fool not to like the levels of personalisation and luxury on offer from Bentley and their bespoke coachbuilder Mulliner. Paint, leather, veneer and lifestyle options are unlimited and can be tailored to the individual. How about a mechanical Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling clock? The most potent of watch mechanisms surely befits for the most potent of SUVs?
Images: Tristan Ware
Location: Willowdown Farm – BHS approved livery yard
MODEL: Bentley Bentayga
PRICED FROM (AS DRIVEN): £160,200 (£193,135)
POWERPLANT: 6.0Litre, TwinTurbo Charged W12
DRIVETRAIN: Permanent allwheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 8 Speed Automatic Gearbox
POWER: 600 bhp
TORQUE: 900 Nm
WEIGHT: 2,440 kg
0–60 MPH: 4.0 seconds
TOP SPEED: 187 mph
COMBINED MPG: 21.6
C02 EMISSION: 296g/km