Cape Town - Bentley has launched its first-ever diesel vehicle, in the form of a V8-engined Bentayga SUV that joins the existing 6-litre W12 petrol model. It’s a move that might offend purists, so we got behind the wheel of this luxurious oil burner at its South African launch in Cape Town last week and subjected it to a grilling:

Question: A diesel Bentley? What will they come up with next: sweet chilli instead of vinegar with our fish and chips?

Answer: I’m no ordinary diesel, you cad. My turbodiesel 4-litre V8 is a state-of-the art engine with enough torque to tow a caravan up Table mountain. In fact, by Jove, I think I could just about tow Table mountain.

Q: Okay so you’re a R2.9-million tractor. But what about the authentic Bentley refinement and sports experience?

A: I go 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and achieve a top speed of 270km/h - which is jolly fast and makes me the world’s fastest diesel SUV. And I run as smooth as strawberries and cream.

Q: Sounds nice, but turbo diesels can be laggy.

A: Tut tut. As I mentioned I am state of the art. My engine has a triple-charging system which uses two regular turbochargers plus an electric-powered compressor for low rpm, thereby almost completely eliminating turbo lag. I have 900Nm of torque at 1000rpm, which is just above idling speed. Steep hills mean nothing to me.

Q: Impressive. But tell me more about the strawberries and cream.

A: Are you having to raise your voice talking to me, hmm? I don’t know whether you’ve checked the speedometer but we’re charging along like the Royal Ascot winner. Do you hear my engine? Or the wind?

Q: I guess not. It is quiet in here, I’ll give you that.

A: And what do you think of the accommodations? Do you like the way my hand-stitched steering wheel feels in your hands? That takes a person 12 hours to stitch back at the factory, by the way.

Q: Hey, who’s asking the questions here? But yes, your interior furnishings are just what I’ve come to expect from Bentley. Lots of chrome and wood, including the traditional chromed pull-knobs to open the air vents, and an analogue clock. Nice. But I see there’s a big infotainment screen as well.

A: Sign of the times, old chap. Nod to modernity. Touch screen is what it’s all about these days. But the expertly handcrafted Bentley touch is all there, as you’ll see. For instance, look closely and you’ll see my cabin veneers are mirror matched left to right. And I’m very personalisable, with 100 colours and 12 dual-tone hide combinations to choose from.

Q: So tell me what else is interesting about you, diesel Bentley.

A: Remember the strawberries and cream? That applies to my ride quality as well. As you’ll notice, my air suspension is smoothing out all the bumps, and you’ll find it will do the same even when the tar road ends. I’m very proficient on the 4x4 trails, even though most owners won’t necessarily want to get my wheels muddy. I have a very generous ride height, permanent all-wheel drive, and several drive programmes to maximise traction.

Q: You weigh a heavy two and a half tons though. Been getting stuck into those strawberries and cream?

A: A feeble joust sir, easily countered. If one expects this level of build solidity and stretch-out cabin space, one must expect a certain ‘gravitas’. You might note that in spite of my bountiful size I am making swift progress through these twisty mountain roads.

Q: True that, you do have decent grip and less body roll than I expected. But one final question: why would I want to buy you instead of the 6-litre petrol Bentayga, which also has 900Nm, along with a far more sporty 447kW?

A: Because I’m a lot less thirsty than that souse. I sip only eight litres per 100 kilometres if you refrain from getting too frisky with my throttle. If you want fast and frugal you’ve come to the right place, old sport. 

Drive360