Top speed 187mph
0-62mph 4 seconds
CO2 of 296g/km
When the good people of Bentley lend you one of their cars – in this case a Bentayga – it’s presumed you’ll treat it with respect bordering on grovelling deference. This, after all, is a vehicle that Bentley describes as: “The fastest, most powerful, most luxurious SUV in the world.” That’s not fake news, that’s a fact. So you can imagine my horror when I popped open its cavernous boot to discover our dog had thrown up all over the burnished interior. I already felt guilty about transporting the hound with all the disquietude of drool, mud and fur coming into contact with those acres of buttery soft upholstery – and now the gormless mutt had puked. As I stood on the pavement contemplating the mess and struggling to contain my rising tide of panic, a friendly passerby stopped to have a look. “That really is a lovely car,” he said. To my bafflement I realised that it was the comedian Micky Flanagan. What on earth was happening I thought? Is this a prank? One of the country’s funniest men thinks I own a Bentayga and, more than that, thinks I’ve let my dog be sick in it… “Really lovely,” Micky said again with a broad smile before wandering off, leaving me alone with what was now the “fastest, most powerful, most luxurious sick bag in the world”.
The Bentayga, lavished with praise, drizzled with awards and bursting with superlatives, is a car unlike almost any other. And well it should be. It’s devastatingly fast, terrifyingly huge and has a price tag which is just as scary. If you do the maths you could buy a pick ’n’ mix of Porsches and Jaguars and still have change left over to go on a nice holiday. Bentley estimates that it takes at least 130 hours for 53 skilled artisans to handcraft each single Bentayga. Sit in one of its colossal chairs, let your fingers trail along the immaculate stitching, and you won’t find a thread out of place. The interior shines and glints with chrome details. Everything feels heavy and solid and built to last a generation, from the organ-stop vent controls to the curved door levers. The sheer quality of it all is humbling.
Under the vast bonnet sits a splendid new version of Bentley’s reliable 6-litre W12 engine. It’s an absolute beast, but then it has to be as the Bentayga weighs as much as an industrial tractor, yet drives with the poise and finesse of a figure skater. The 600bhp engine will manhandle you from 0-62mph in four seconds and then, if you were driving on your own private runway, on up to a top speed of 187mph. The handling is astonishing: power into a corner with the suspension dialled into “sport” mode and you follow your line as if sitting in a roller coaster – there is almost no body roll. The odd thing is, though, that despite all this prodigious ability, I found myself cruising around very slowly, as if on parade. Rather than being in “sport” mode, I was in “processional” mode.
Inside, all the luxurious comfort is matched by the most sophisticated driver and safety aids. Lane-assist and adaptive cruise control, plus an awesome sound system, means the Bentayga is more chill-out zone than harassed people carrier. Rather than banging on about it being fast and powerful, Bentley should really be selling this as the most “relaxing” SUV in the world – at least until your dog starts to feel nauseous.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010