Bentley will reinvent the notion of a luxury SUV early next year, when deliveries of its Bentayga commence.This will be the first production 4×4 to convincingly vault above the Range Rover in the prestige stakes. It’ll be more expensive, too, with a likely price of around £160,000.What does that get you?
A mighty W12 petrol engine with twin turbos and a 600bhp, 663lb ft output is what, with an eight-speed auto box and full-time four-wheel drive.It’s all housed on a platform borrowed from the Audi Q7, which is nice and light as it’s made mainly from aluminium. All things are relative of course, and in this case ‘light’ means a kerb weight of 2422kg, but that’s not bad for what is a truly immense vehicle even by SUV standards.Talking of immense things, that’s what its top speed is. An immense 187mph, to be exact. And the first 60 of them are seen off in a trifling 4.0 seconds.Shifting almost two and a half tonnes and 17 feet of metal at that sort of rate takes some doing, so it’s actually rather impressive that the Bentayga manages to return about 22mpg combined. That’s still a lot these days, as are the 292g/km it emits, but these figures bear out the worth of Bentley’s efforts to improve economy through all the technology it can get its hands on.If you lift off the power in any of the top four gears, for example, the vehicle will unhook the gearbox and coast until your foot goes back down.
Enjoying the experience will be your good self plus three or four others – buyers can specify a four or five-seat interior. A wheelbase of more than 16 feet means there’s no end of room in there, and there’s no end of luxury either. Bentley insisted that it should be as upmarket as any of its other vehicles inside, rugged drivetrain notwithstanding.And it is rugged, too. ‘Owners may never drive these vehicles off-road,’ said engineering boss Rolf Frech at the Bentayga’s Frankfurt launch, ‘but they must know it will perform in tough conditions.’Bentley must know that, too, having put in more than a million miles of testing during the car’s development. These went into fine-tuning features like all-round computer-controlled air springs, which operate in a total of eight driver-selected modes – four each on and off-road.Orders are being taken now for the Bentayga, ahead of deliveries in the first quarter of 2016. But the first year’s order book is already full – if you order now, your delivery won’t be until 2017.