Welcome to America, the land of the SUV, and more specifically we're here in Palm Springs, an oasis of Hollywood glamour on the edge of a barren wilderness that used to be the frontier in the old west, to test a new and very different kind of SUV.
The Bentayga is Bentley's first foray into this oh so lucrative segment and about a third of the 5,000 or so they're going to build this year, will find homes right here in these great United States, but what does this very British take on a luxury SUV actually feel like out here in the desert and more importantly what is this car mean for the future of Bentley.
As a set of development goals for an engineering team, asking them to build the fastest, most powerful, most exclusive and most luxurious SUV ever, seems like a pretty tall order but now that we're here with the finished article we can look at each of those claims in term and see if the Bentayga really can match them and also see what if it can do everything a Bentley can do and do a few things no other Bentley can do.
For starters let's talk about luxury. Now luxury in any Bentley means handcrafted wood leather and metal on every surface now you can get those materials in other cars but it's the small details that
set the Bentayga apart and put it into a class ball of its own. For example, one of the options is instead of this analog clock here, you get a diamond-encrusted solid gold mechanical tourbillon made by Breitling, which is wound by the car itself. So it costs about the same as this car closest
rival from range rover and that sort of thing that means it's going to appeal to the super-rich above all else.
SUV’s of course need to be practical too, but again Bentley's approach here is a little bit different. You can get a three-piece picnic set with a wine cooler and fine bone china sets for the boot or this lovely event seat, perfect for an evening watching the Opera Glyndebourne. Now I can't really think of a better metaphor for what this car is all about them having a nice cup of tea from a bone china cup halfway up a mountain.
Here in the back as you'd expect things feel pretty palatial, there is four seats standard or you can have the option of five however the Bentayga is a real change not when it comes to space or luxury but in technology. It has over 90 different ECU's under the skin here controlling hundreds of different electrical systems. It's got radar-guided cruise control, a night-vision camera, a head-up display
state-of-the-art sat-nav system and for once it's easy and intuitive to use, and a massive 80 gigabyte storage device for all of your music. The stereo here is a 7,000-pound option but it's got 18 speakers and 1800 watts of power. These removal android tablets to mean people in the back will feel like that first class, but all of this technology wouldn't even have been heard of a Bentley even five years ago.
Now apparently the old boss of Bentley said the Bentley was in the power business, a Lamborghini well that was in noise business, and that probably tells you all you need to know about the new 6-litre
w12 twin turbocharged engine that's fitted under the bonnet of the Bentayga. Juices 600 brake horsepower and a staggering 663 pounds-feet of torque all from just twelve hundred and fifty RPM but smoothness and refinement are key and you can barely hear this thing when you start up on tick over and most of the time you'll only ever go to about 1500 rpm and just waft along riding the surge of that torque and having said that if you do trouble the full extension of the throttle pedal you'll find that this is an alarmingly rapid car. 0-62 mph takes 4.1 seconds and it'll go on 187 miles an hour which for the record is what makes this the world's fastest SUV,
Better yet there's also a new suspension system, essentially there's two motors on each axle which can vary the amount of roll stiffness that's got going on and all that really means is that when you need it to little ride like a Mulsanne but when you actually throwing at corners it will also handle like Continental GT Speed, that perfect balance of refinement and dynamic ability is exactly what they were looking for when they designed the Bentayga.
We've also for different driving modes to play with including one called Bentley not really sure what that means but essentially I would love that if you owned a Bentley you hop in put it in Bentley and waft along down the road and you probably be pretty satisfied with yourself but then there's also four off-road modes which we are going try bit later on a challenging creek course.
The car we had come fitted with the optional all-terrain specification which adds mud and snow tires to the 21-inch wheels and four extra driving modes to play with, and on top of that as standard the Bentayga is already armed with electronic differential locks, awaiting depth of over half a metre lots of travel and its fully adjustable air suspension. It's still hard not to admire the effortless way this hundred eighty-seven miles per hour SUV claws its way up the steepest slopes dangling its massive wheels in the air on the traverses.
It's not quite as unstoppable as a range rover the far more capable than expected. We have now put the Bentayga through its paces and pushed it far more than most of its owners ever will and I have to say it's never been anything less than really impressive.
Bentley's never built a car with this breadth of ability before and I have to say they really hit the nail on the head here and the Bentayga is the benchmark by which all other luxury SUV’s will be judged.
It's also going to allow the company to pay for a more interesting lower volume projects including hopefully a two-seat sports car and that you have to say is really exciting
- Model: Bentley Bentayga
- Engine: 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo petrol, eight-speed auto
- Power/Torque: 600bhp/663lb ft
- 0-62mph: 4.1secs
- Top speed: 187mph
- Economy: 21.6mpg
- CO2/BIK tax liability: 296g/km/37%
- Boot space in four/five seat layout: 431 litres/485 litres