By: Dave Abrahams
Crewe, England - Given Bentley's history of very nearly a century as a maker of high-performance luxury sports-cars, an SUV seems like an unlikely departure.
But in fact, Walter Owen (W.O.) Bentley's early efforts were solid, very robust vehicles - so much so that Ettore Bugatti called them “the world's fastest lorries”.
Now the wheel has come full circle with the company's first SUV, the Bentayga - the world's fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV, it says.
The first two claims come courtesy of a new twin-turbo six-litre W12 engine, built in-house at Crewe and rated at 447kW and 900Nm; Bentley quotes 0-100km/h in four seconds flat and a top speed of 301km/h which, for a brick-shaped station wagon weighing in at 2422kg, is impressive indeed.
It drives all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF paddle-shift transmission, a central Torsen differential set up for a 40:60 default front-to-rear torque split and an open rear differential.
A rotary switch on the centre console offers no fewer than eight on and off-road drive modes, complemented by multi-mode air suspension and a 48-volt electrically operated adaptive anti-roll system that keeps the Bentayga's cabin just about level with the road during even the most exuberant cornering.
Predictive cruise control uses navigation data, sensors and cameras to slow down for corners, city boundaries and even speed-limit signs, before you can even see them.
Also available are auto parking (which will not only find a parking bay big enough for the Bentayga but will also park it for you) electronic night vision and a head-up display.
A two-piece glass roof with a full-length electric roller blind makes up almost 60 percent of the roof area, while rim sizes are from 20-22 inch.
The hand-crafted cabin interior is trimmed with 15 carefully matched elements in your choice of seven wood veneers, and fitted with highly polished, handmade metal elements on the dashboard, centre console and doors. Signature Bentley knurling adds a tactile sophistication to the drive mode selector, gear knob, air vents and organ-top switchgear.
The front seats feature no less than 22 power-operated adjustments including cushion and backrest bolsters - as well as a six-progamme massage function, seat heating and ventilation.
The optional individual rear seats are adjustable in 18 different ways and include massage, ventilation and adjustable footrests. The four-seat option brings with it a veneered centre console that includes cup holders, storage and USB ports.
The seats are upholstered in the finest bull hides, all sourced from cool European climates, naturally tanned in your choice of 19 colours, with contrast stitching and diamond-pattern quilting on request.
The infotainment system is based on an eight-inch central touch-screen, and includes your choice of three specially developed sound systems, topped by a 1950-watt set-up with a network of 18 speakers.
Nothing so crass as pricing is mentioned in the Bentley media release; apparently Bentley assumes that anybody serious enough to order a Bentayga is sufficiently wealthy that cost is simply irrelevant.