Review: Bentley Bentayga W12 6.0-litre twin-turbo, Beauty is the beast


Does the world really need a Bentley SUV? Probably not. But like the few which resisted the SUV wave, Bentley eventually caved and so the Bentayga was born; not before courting controversy with its 2012 concept, the EXP 9 F, which was widely disparaged for how it looked. Bentley subsequently tweaked it and this is the result. Hmm…

I can comprehend, even empathise with what Bentley was trying to achieve with the styling of the Bentayga. With the Volkswagen group brands fully utilising the MLB evo platform and spawning the VW Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus, it was imperative that the Bentayga occupied a totally different space from its platform-sharing cousins, which goes to explain why the Bentayga isn’t quite an SUV in the vein of the sporty Continental series, but more in the shape of the ultra-luxurious Mulsanne.

Not the prettiest of sights, but can’t mistake the Bentayga for anything else other than a Bentley.

It had to be something opulent which appealed to royalties (ranging from Buckingham types to hip-hop moguls) who seek added flexibility and a road presence that a saloon can’t quite muster.

Pulling off something that looked easy on the eyes was always a challenge (see also the Rolls Royce Cullinan), especially when you have to somehow incorporate those gawky circular headlamps. All I can say is that the Bentley Bentayga is imposing, a statement of bling, and is much better appreciated from the inside.

QUICK FACTS

NameBentley Bentayga W12
Engine5,950cc; twin-turbo W12
Transmission8-speed automatic
Max Power608 hp @ 5,000 – 6,000 rpm
Max Torque900 Nm @ 1,350 – 4,000 rpm
0 – 100 km/h; Top Speed4.1 seconds; 301 km/h
Price (OTR without insurance)From RM1,883,000

Hides that are Free from Insect Bites

The allure of owning a Bentley has a lot to do with the ability to kit the car out to your heart’s content. Try and configure a Bentayga to your own liking and you’ll understand why its cabin is never going to be confused with that of a Q7 or a Cayenne despite some familiar-looking VW group switchgear, and that each Bentayga is probably unique to its owner.

Our test unit’s cabin sported a combination of ‘Camel’ and ‘Beluga’ hides (referring to the hues, not the animals) which were ‘hand-picked from herds that graze high above sea level in Northern Europe’ and that all ‘hides used to upholster the Bentayga are naturally free of the insect bites that could otherwise leave blemishes in the leather’.

Add swathes of ‘dark stained burr walnut’ and plush carpeting and you have an interior that’s made out of genuinely decadent stuff.

If you’re going to be a chauffeur, make it a Bentley.

Of course, it’s a wonderful place with which to operate a vehicle, even better if you’re just kicking back in those supple seats at the back, with James the chauffeur going about the business of circumventing the traffic.

There is more than a whiff of old-school charm about the Bentayga interior, yet it never feels old fashioned with just the right amount of technology (yes, you can easily overdo it these days) sprinkled over the right places, without detracting from the opulent ambience.

Decadent Performance

There are no slow Bentleys, only different degrees of fast. Before the Lamborghini Urus came along, the Bentayga, with its 608 hp and 900 Nm 6.0-litre W12 engine – comprising two narrow-angle 15-degree V6 engines joined at the crank, urged on by twin turbochargers – was the fastest production SUV with a top speed of 301 km/h.

And it could also accelerate from idle to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. Having that W12 engine and all-wheel drive helps, but a lot of the Bentayga’s performance also has to do with how relatively ‘light’ it weighs (2,440kg), considering its size, W12 motor and amount of equipment lavished upon it.

I guess when you have 900 Nm, 2.5-tonnes can feel like 800kg.

W12 is buttery smooth mechanically, but could do with more auditory excitement.

‘Unflappable’ comes to mind when you unleash the beast in the Bentayga. The manner in which it wafts from a crawl to unprintable speeds is ludicrous (sorry, Tesla), with little in the way of noise or body motion, only that your body is pinned firmly against those insect bite-free cowhides.

The calmness within the cabin at speed is not unlike being on a high-speed train, the buttery smooth W12 motor is curiously devoid of a signature soundtrack but it hums no matter how you wind it up.

In fact, forward progress is in a way remarkably…unremarkable, something which Bentley probably intended it to be.

Zero to 100km/h takes 4.1 seconds, top speed is 301km/h, for a 2.5-tonne SUV.

So, for all the incredible performance available to the Bentayga, it was never going to be a driver-engaging type of vehicle, even if its adaptive air suspension and more crucially, the active body roll control (dubbed the Dynamic Ride System) allow the Bentayga to stave off body roll and to behave like something a size smaller in corners; perfect for CEO-types seated at the back who are not to be stirred or shaken at all costs.

James the chauffeur would also approve of the light steering response from the Bentayga’s electric powered rack. Granular feedback? Who needs them when you’re piloting a tank this luxurious.

Starts from RM1.8 million

As they say, if you need to ask, you probably can’t afford it. The Bentayga is that kind of car, made for a select few who won’t bat an eyelid nor be bothered about what others think of their choices.

Sure, you can get into a Mercedes-Maybach or a fully-decked out Range Rover for less money, but the marque with the wings flies at a higher plane than the aforementioned brands, while the introduction of the Rolls Royce Cullinan only makes the Bentayga a ‘bargain’ for those who are able to see that beauty lies in the beast itself.


IMAGE GALLERY


Denis Wong

Denis Wong

In the age of misinformation and spin, Denis prefers candour and a counterpoint, because the truth matters.
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