So how did Bentley lure me away from tradition Land Rover military products to drive the Bentley Betayga, which has not a hint of green or armour!
The answer is, its summer, its hot and I have never driven a Bentley!
I arrived at Jack Barclay’s Berkeley Square plush showroom full of the most exotic and shiny Bentleys on the market today to be met by Clinton Gregory brandishing the key for our drive in the Bentayga V8 Diesel version.
The door opened with a soft click and one is immediately met with the waft of expensive leather and milled aluminum coupled to polished glass and panels.
The passenger area is similar to most SUVs although the front and rear windows are sloped, giving a more sporty appearance but with less space in the rear luggage area for dogs, guns, suitcases and golf clubs. It has a seven seat option with two pop up seats added in the rear area. Indeed Clinton said that he had failed on one sale as the customer’s dog could not fit in the boot!
The driving area of the Bentayga is similar to the Range Rover Sport with a single shift gearlever coupled to a ‘Sport’ or ‘Normal’ 8 speed gearbox with a Terrain Mapping system for off road driving which sadly we were not doing today!
Having said that Clinton assured me that the Betayga has no problem in off road driving, it has the power and torque coupled to the Audi Drivetrain to attack any tough conditions in any weather and temperature. He promised me a cross country drive next time!
The dashboard is an original ‘dual glass dial system’ not an advanced digital display, very Bentley.
Once the driving position has been set using electric switches on the seats and below the steering wheel, we were ready to go; foot on brake and starter pushed!
As we pulled away into the London traffic the first thing that struck me was how incredibly quiet the Bentayga is, you wouldn’t believe that the V8 Audi engine was a diesel. The next thing you notice is how responsive the vehicle is in traffic and how fast it pulls away from the lights. It has a more sportscar drive that normal SUV with none of the roll associated with other SUVs.
The smoothness of the engine and gearbox and the nimble acceleration as we got way from the traffic onto the Westway was excellent.
“This is a lovely car, so smooth and quiet” I said to Clinton, “Having been a died in the wool Land Rover owner since my first Series 1 Land Rover aged 18, I’m not sure you are going to have difficulty luring me into a Bentley!”
“Before we get into detail of colour, spec and extras, how much is the base vehicle?”
“The basic cost is £135,000 for the V8 Turbo Diesel variant going up to £180,000 for the W12 petrol version. You can go mad on extras from TVs, surround sound systems and other goodies.” Clinton said.
It is a name not only inspired by the company’s founder, W.O. Bentley, but by some of nature’s most powerful creations. The dramatic beauty of Taiga, the world’s largest transcontinental snowforest, lies in the far northern hemisphere. In the subtropical Canary Islands further south, the rugged peak of Bentayga looks out over a rich and diverse landscape.
“Bentayga was created for the person who wants to seek new landscapes and take a fresh look at their world– to see through new eyes. For Bentayga will reveal new ways to experience familiar journeys on road and deliver new journeys in new environments off-road. It was by understanding these needs and desires that led Bentley to reappraise, reshape and redefine the luxury SUV, and what it is capable of.” Clinton said.
As we gathered speed and continued down the Westway the car lived up to its strap line:
‘Bentayga is everything you would expect from an SUV created by Bentley. The most luxurious, hand-built, all-terrain vehicle on Earth. A car where technology, speed and power and have been brought together to offer an extraordinary driving experience. And an SUV that can be tailored to your own unique taste, through matchless levels of personalisation and a wide range of options.’
With a claimed top speed of 187 mph, Bentley boasts that the Bentayga is the fastest SUV in the world. The claim is made possible by a twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 that makes a mighty 600hp and 664lb-ft of torque; an eight-speed automatic drives all four wheels. The interior can be configured to seat four or five; only the finest leather will cosset those lucky posteriors. Diesel and hybrid powertrains will be offered in the future; the Bentayga goes on sale in early 2016.
It was a shame that we couldn’t take the Bentayga onto the M40 to really put it through its paces but Clinton promised a longer trip for the next test drive.
There are three models in the range. The new Bentayga Mulliner is the pinnacle of luxury – the ultimate expression of the world’s most luxurious SUV. Bentayga, with its W12 engine, is the world’s fastest SUV. Then there is Bentayga Diesel – Bentley’s first-ever diesel – which can travel more than 1,000km on one full tank of fuel.
With its all-new W12 petrol engine, Bentayga has redefined what an SUV engine can do. The Bentayga 6.0 litre engine achieves 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds (0 to 100 km/h 4.1 seconds) and accelerates to a top speed of 187 mph (301 km/h), making it the world’s fastest SUV.
But Bentayga is not simply about speed. It has been designed for both performance and efficiency. This W12 petrol engine with Variable Displacement is the most technologically advanced 12-cylinder in the world with the best combination of power, torque and efficiency found in any SUV. It delivers 5-90% torque within 1.1 seconds, offering maximum torque at low engine speeds – which creates an effortless driving experience. The Bentayga’s engine and gearbox are designed to operate in all off-road conditions, including lateral and longitudinal angles of up to 35°.
Stop-Start technology is available for the first time on a Bentley. Combined with the Variable Displacement System, it means Bentayga can achieve fuel consumption of 21.6 mpg (13.1 l/100 km) and emissions of 296g/km.
The engine also features the first-ever combination of direct-injection and port-injection technologies in a production engine from Bentley. It switches seamlessly between the two to deliver the most efficient performance. The latest twin-scroll turbochargers have been engineered for optimum response, removing any hint of turbo lag.
“How is the Bentayga selling?” I asked Clinton as we turned back to make our way home.
“We can’t get enough of them, once you put the name Bentley on a vehicle, people just queue up to buy it. This is our first 4×4 SUV and the signs are that we are giving range Rover a run for their money.”
“Can anyone buy a Bentley is they have the money?”
“No quite the opposite,” Clinton said, “Bentley are very choosy about their ‘Continental’ customers in particular. The Continental is seen as the ‘entry level Bentley,’ so Bentley will vet the purchaser after a deposit of £3500 is paid and once cleared the customer will be asked up to our Crewe factory for a tour and see how the car is made. Bentley’s are unique cars, each panel is a ‘Bentley only’ product.”
We arrived back in Berkeley Square, parked the car, switched off the engine and reluctantly, I handed Clinton back the keys looking forward to my next drive and that elusive Lottery Win so I could join the elite Bentley Drivers Club!