A buzz of excitement fills the air with super-luxury British marque Bentley pulling the covers off its latest creation ahead of its Frankfurt debut. The Crewe based company has been very busy at work with its first ever production SUV that’s an evolution of the EXP 9F concept that was shown to the world at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
The Bentayga may not have inherited Bentley’s best naming paradigms, but it did get the Volkswagen Group’s PL71 platform on which it’s built on. The same platform can be found on the more popular Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg. It sure is a stepping stone for what is being hailed as the ‘fastest SUV in the world‘.
Giving a product like the Bentayga with the abovementioned tag is a bold and daring move, especially for a company with a sterling reputation to uphold. Bentley had to pull out all the stops here. From the powertrain to the interiors upholstery, the perfectionists from Crewe took their time and made sure they had the real deal to show for at Frankfurt.
The drivetrain is as good place as any to delve into the Bentayga. Powering this uber-luxurious SUV is a tried and tested, all-new TSI W12 engine for which Bentley is billing is as the most technologically advanced 12-cylinder production engine in the world. It kicks out 600 hp at 6,000 rpm while making an astonishing 900 Nm of twist from a mere 1,250 rpm, thanks to a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers.
The Flying B dishes out the century sprint in 4.1 seconds before reaching a top speed of 301 km/h! Not bad at all for car that weighs 3,250 kg. What makes this powerplant so technologically advanced is the fact that it can shut down half its cylinders depending on driving conditions that’s acclimated to Bentley’s Variable Displacement system. The TSI W12 sees a 11.9 percent efficiency improvement compared to the existing W12.
Additionally, it can switch between direct and indirect fuel injection, thus improving fuel efficiency and emissions. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The transmission and four-wheel-drive system has been strengthened to handle the demands and high torque levels of off-road driving should it strike your fancy. An oil-burner and plug-in hybrid will make their debut later on.
Onto the business end of this SUV, for which the marque applauds as the world’s finest cabin. In typical fashion befitting only that of Bentley, the veneer is handpicked, the select bull hide is sourced from only the best European climates and are naturally tanned. The remarkable attention to detail in metal, wood and leather is the epitome of modern British luxury, and is achievable thanks to the exceptional skills of the craftsman in Crewe.
The cossetting handcrafted upholstery features a 22-way adjustable front seats that’s further enhanced with a six-programme massage system, seat heating and ventilation. The Bentayga is available in either a four or five seat configuration and are available with contrast stitching including a quilted diamond design applied to the ‘shoulders’ and bolsters that draws inspiration from classic hunting jackets.
This SUV exudes opulence by the bucket-loads and that’s ever more apparent with a four-seater layout. The two individual rear seats adjust in 18 different ways and includes a massage and ventilation functions, not to mention footrests. The veneered rear console hides away cup holders, storage areas and USB charging sockets. Customers can choose from 15 colours, in three duo-tone and one single mono-tone colour split.
The Bentayga takes the term ‘tailgate party’ to the next level when you drop the tailgate and discover the optional folding event seat that’s decked out just like the rest of interior for taking in the lush scenery. Beats sitting on the tailgate we suppose. Should this not amuse you, Bentley has equipped the Bentayga with a full-length panoramic glass roof.
The brand is adamant of the SUV’s go-anywhere-attitude. Bentley has gone to the ends of the world when it came to testing and has proved to be the most exhaustive exercise in the company’s history. From the frozen -30°C wastelands of the North Cape, to blistering 50°C desert heat of Dubai to the muddy fields of Cheshire; the Bentayga has been put through its pace on all terrains navigable by wheel.
And the product of that pursuit is the world’s first electric active roll control technology that utilises an unrivalled 48V system, dubbed the Bentley Dynamic Ride system. This system instantly counteracts lateral rolling forces when cornering and ensures maximum tyre contact to deliver cabin stability, ride comfort and car-like handling. Conventional anti-roll bars present a compromise between body control and ride comfort, whereas Bentley’s adaptive and reactive system provides variable torsional resistance, allowing the Bentayga to be both capable in corners and remain comfortable at all times.
The Bentayga comes jam-packed with safety acronyms for good measure, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and a multi-mode Traction Control (TCS). Steering is job left to EPAS or Electric Power-Assisted Steering. The system gives feedback to the driver, whilst providing isolation from steering kick-back. EPAS features a variable rack ratio that permits light and fast steering while manoeuvring at low speeds, as well as a more weighted response for better stability at higher speeds.
Opulence and luxury are the mainstays of the brand and it wouldn’t be an exception here. Even the clock that lives in the dash is a bespoke mechanical Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling (as an option of course). Speaking of Mulliner, should the ‘standard’ Bentayga not jig your whimsy, Mulliner will bow to the customer’s every bespoke needs. That being said, the Bentayga comes with six different lifestyle-orientated packages at launch.