The adventure continues

The Bentayga is Bentley's first foray into the world of sports utility. It aims to put a dash of luxury in your off-roading, but does the US$400,000 SUV live up to its lofty expectations?
The adventure continues
By Thomas Shambler
Sun 16 Oct 2016 04:01 PM

When the Bentayga was first revealed last September, car enthusiasts were quick to call it the most important moment in luxury motoring that year. What was expected – some sort of VIP version of a Range Rover – was only half right. The Bentayga is not a poshed-up Range Rover, nor a special edition Range Rover Sport. It's an entirely different vehicle, and it certainly impressed enough would-be buyers – the car sold out of its first year's production within weeks of it hitting the streets.

On paper, the Bentayga wants to be a little bit of everything. It's a fully-fledged SUV (albeit, one that's slightly compromised due to its weight) that's capable of reaching speeds up to 300-kilometres-per-hour. It's also certainly a luxury vehicle, as proven by the bespoke Breitling Tourbillon clock in the cabin. Indeed, the Bentayga borrows a lot of its interior elements from the Mulsanne; an offers several bespoke options (including the special edition pictured: a partnership between Bentley and Mulliner). It would probably be more correct to call the Bentayga an LSUV: Luxury Sports Utility Vehicle.

Bentley did experiments with the space inside, polling thousands of luxury customers. The results? Space inside enough for anything the 1 percent might need on their travels, including the ability to tow a yacht, the inclusion of ski rails on the roof and a wet box for fly fishing. Prices start around US$420,000 – although with certain bespoke modifications the prices only go up.

The engineering team worked magic with the chassis - it's required to produce a car that's both high off the road and fast. At launch, there was only one choice of engine – a 600-horsepower, twin-turbo six-litre VW12, with enough power to perform on road and off. There's also a roll-control system driven by computer-controlled hydraulics.

The Bentayga has luxury, performance and speed in abundance. But will it sell? The global demand for SUVs doesn't seem to be slowing, and motors still cost a fraction of some other 'big boy's toys'. Considering that Range Rover makes a good deal of money from its highest-end models (peaking around US$380,000), an SUV above that level was always going to find a market. Throw in the status that a brand such as Bentley commands among the ultra-rich, and it's easy to see why the Bentayga sold out its first year. Good thing too. It's rumoured that this project cost Bentley over US$1 billion in development.

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