The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Nick Hodgson
Luxury, true luxury is effortless. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a million options, thousands of gizmos and every feature under the sun. Sitting in the dealership, sipping cuppa chino with the brochure open in front of you, going through and spec’ing all of this out may even feel like luxury. Like you’re being treated as special, however take it too far long and so much customisation quickly becomes tedious, leaving you lost and mired in a world of sub menu upon sub menu as you desperately try to work out simply where to set your favourite radio station. Bentley has a history of understanding this and most importantly, producing a vehicle that does everything for the customer in an effortless manner. Without doubt an exclusive club to be in and one whose customer base is historically on the older and more traditional side.
The Bentley Bentayga is a different animal. A new breed of vehicle that if Bentley has its way will signal the changing of the guard. Not only is it the first SUV in the company’s history, but here we have a diesel model too. Truly a sign of the changing times and a brave new world for Bentley to be playing in. It’s entirely possible that your traditional Bentley owner’s monocles fell out just reading, “diesel”, “SUV” and “Bentley” mentioned in the same sentence as their beloved British brand, however it’s a shift that tells us one thing. Bentley doesn’t want to be left behind.
Let’s tackle the diesel part first then. Uninspiring to many, but hold on for a moment while I throw “triple charged” into the mix. There’s something you’re unlikely to have heard of and a concept that I wouldn’t be surprised to find filtering down through the ranks in the near future. Unlike me, don’t make the mistake of assuming “triple charged” means three turbo chargers lurking under the bonnet, just waiting to burst into life and rip the world apart with enough torque and power to run a small country. Yes, the world of physics can breathe a sigh of relief as it’s still the “bog standard” two, with the triple piece of the puzzle coming in the form of an electric boost unit strapped to those two turbos that helps spool them up and further eliminate turbo lag. Don’t forget that the concept of running dual turbos was to do just this, so with an excellent 320kw on tap and a whopping 900Nm of torque, not only can you truly waft along in Bentley style and comfort, but now with added fuel consumption benefits.
The interior is really where it’s at in a car like this though. Bentley’s are after all designed to be both driven and driven in. Let’s start with the seats. Comfortable, multi adjustable and massage functions go without saying. But take a look at that leather, the detail to the stitching, the design and that embroidered Bentley logo. Just one example, of which there are many in the cabin, but it all hints towards that coveted concept to which there is just no substitute, “by hand”. That’s right, even today, even in a diesel SUV, Bentley is still keeping the hand crafted element to the brand very much alive.
How about behind the wheel though? Well to be honest it’s a rather odd feeling. You see the Bentley Bentayga is crazy fast, and effortlessly so, even in diesel format. Then add in all that luxury we’ve touched on above and you get a misconception of speed. 120 feels like 60. Tearing through the countryside and despite being in a massive SUV you’re not rolling all over the place. The Bentayga is taking care of all of it for you. For eating up the miles it’s exceptional. However, it is still an SUV, a format that I personally believe can never be as comfortable as a traditional saloon, no matter how good those wizard engineers are.
So will you be tempted? Well it’s certainly a brute. Fast, imposing, comfortable and luxurious. Plus add in the SUV practicality that people are so desperate for these days and I can see where Bentley is coming from. It all depends whether your cup of tea is the old school saloon, 3kms long with barely enough room to fit 4 people, or the bang up to date SUV that’s taking the brand into the future. Luckily Bentley cater for either taste, I’d just put in a word of caution that they do Bentley better than they do SUV.