Not your usual SUV — Bentley Bentayga
IT’S A BENTLEY, BUT NOT AS WE’VE KNOWN IT BEFORE
It’s New Zealand’s most expensive new SUV and already the Bentley Bentayga is making a big impression with not only its size but customer interest.
Revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show and launched international in early February, a demonstration model of the Bentayga arrived here in April.
After a couple of months of being shown to potential customers, it’s now time for the media as the first of the pre-ordered Bentaygas are delivered to the their New Zealand buyers.
Bentley NZ expects to have 20 Bentaygas — priced from $398,000 — sold this year and there is a six-month waiting list if you decide to pop into the Auckland dealership today to purchase one.
In some markets the wait time is e than a year, with the British automaker's boss Wolfgang Duerheimer, confirming the Crewe-based factory is increasing capacity from 3600 to 5500 units to meet demand after pre-orders from 10,000 customers.
The Bentayga has faced fame and infamy since its reveal at the Frankfurt motor show – with Bentley claiming it as the world’s fastest production SUV last month because of an electronically limited top speed of 301km/h.
It is also currently the most expensive super-luxury SUV in the world, knocking off the Range Rover SVAutobiography and Mercedes-AMG G-Class.
But competition will soon come from the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Lamborghini Urus when those two luxury off-roaders go into production in the next two years.
But with the kudos for the Bentley came criticism when the name for the former of the concept vehicle was revealed in January 2015.
The company says “Bentayga” was inspired by Taiga, the world’s largest snow forest, and in Swahili it means “carried interest” while the company also nabbed the word from the mountain range Roque Bentayga in the Canary Islands. But as Lamborghini is naming the Urus after “wild ancestors of domestic cattle”, Bentley’s inspiration is pretty mundane.
The Bentley SUV’s other near-unanimous criticism has been the look of it and having seen the luxury SUV on the stand at Frankfurt I found the front of the vehicle jarring – especially the huge front grille and round headlights.
But away from the spotlights of the motor show, and on the road, the Bentayga fits in our motoring landscape. Especially when you consider its DNA.
The Bentayga is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform used in the recently launched Audi Q7 and will be the base of the Urus, Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg.
When you put it that way, the size of the Bentayga isn’t intimidating, especially driving around Auckland and sitting in traffic next to Q7s and Touaregs.
The Bentayga is 5141mm long, 1998mm wide and 1742mm high, and weighs 2440kg.
Sitting under the bonnet is the dynamic 6-litre, W12 twin turbo-charged petrol engine producing 447kW of power and a pumping 900Nm of torque at 1250rpm.
The Bentayga goes from 0-100km/h in an impressive 4.1 seconds (go to driven.co.nz to see our Australian colleague James Ward test that) and has permanent four-wheel-drive with a 40:60 front to rear torque split.
All of that is paired with an eight-speed auto transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddles if you want to manually change gears, plus the option of sport mode if you want firmer steering and longer rev range.
That 0-100km/h figure and the dynamic engine proves itself when heading onto motorway onramps where I couldn’t help but let out a whoop-whoop as the petrol engine catapulted me ahead at impressive speeds.
Although the engine was impressive, so too was specification list that Bentley NZ added to the Bentayga, taking the base price $5000 shy of half a million dollars.
Added to the super-luxury SUV were: all-terrain (including 20in alloys, settings so you could drive on snow or mud, and the SUV descend down a hill by itself); city package (with park assist, blind spot monitoring, 360-degree camera, pedestrian warning); a moon roof; rear privacy glass; hands-free boot; touring package (with adaptive cruise control, head-up display); and rear event seats — a platform that you can sit on if you’re at the polo or having a fancy picnic.
But if it comes to polo-watching seating, Bentley needs to have a chat to Range Rover with the limousine version excelling with rear-facing, comfy-seats pews.
The platform is just the thing for watching a couple of chukkas with your favourite team.
My test model also had the smoking package with two ashtrays and lighters in the rear — making it a definitely child-unfriendly version.
But if you ignore the copious ashtrays and instead look at the interior you see features that justify the price tag — from the traditional air vents to the stitching in the leather and the quilted inserts to the heated and cooled massaging front seats (though Mercedes still wins for best massaging car seats with no competitors coming close to it).
The cabin is probably too quiet for my liking, with the radio off I’d like to hear such a bellowing W12 engine, and even with the window down I could only just make out the rumble under the bonnet.
But the star of the Bentayga has to be under that bonnet and the fact that although it may be a super luxury SUV it’s also a capable off-roader that you could utilise in the weekends. The Bentayga can tow up to 3500kg and takes all kinds of off-road conditions in its stride, as proven at the international media launch in Palm Springs, USA, earlier this year.
Our Australian colleague, CarAdvice.com.au’s Alborz Fallah, raved about the Bentayga at the media launch. Fallah said: “After changing the drive mode selector to ‘mud & trail’, our Bentayga climbed and descended hills that would make Jeep Wrangler owners hesitate.
“Our experience inside the cabin while driving up 34-degree gradients felt as though the Bentley wasn’t actually climbing any hills. It simply made the hills submit to its will. There’s so much torque that getting stuck actually takes effort.”
Although I didn’t have the hills around Palm Springs to play with (nor did I want to take it off-road as a repair to the paint job would probably cost my annual salary), instead I took it to a winding mountain road with open speed limit.
The task was effortless for the Bentayga. There was little body roll and a sure-footedness on the road and the behemoth power from engine that never ceased to impress me.
And that badge and huge plastic front grille also impressed tourists and locals as I drove it around Auckland. With massaging function on, heated seat turned up and the steering wheel warm it made a work commute simple.
So what do you get from nearly $500,000? The status of the badge, the engine and the luxurious interior though also for the base price of $398,000 I’d have expected blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, emergency city braking and even head-up display to be standard rather than an option.
But buyers of the Bentayga won’t care — they are instead the owners of the world’s most expensive SUV and for that you earn the bragging rights.