Bentley Bentayga Diesel: Sheer power meets style
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The Bentley Bentayga Diesel is the world's most powerful and quickest luxury SUV, and it is no slouch off the tarmac.
Among the most robust of larger SUVs, the Bentayga is not afraid of going off-road, with immense power and technology to get even novice drivers safely and securely through rough terrain.
By simply adjusting the ground clearance and engaging the sophisticated traction and suspension system beneath the car, the driver can pretty much leave the Bentayga to negotiate the rough without intervening too much.
Whether many owners would want to take their $285,000 (plus extras) Bentleys too far off the beaten track is another question.
Already about 20 New Zealanders have bought the Bentayga, although it has been on the market for under than a year.
Buyers now have the choice of opting for the W12 Bentayga petrol-engined models, or a new V8 diesel Bentayga.
Driven drove the diesel model during an on-and-off-road demonstration in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales last week.
Bentley assembled a small fleet of Bentayga diesels, registered across three Australian states, showing off the model in dragon red, glacier white and portofino blue.
It is an amazingly sophisticated SUV that is a joy to drive, whether negotiating congested inner-Sydney streets, or cruising on the highway.
Auckland | Wairau Valley
$108.50 p/w $433.99 p/m
The Bentayga handled a relatively gentle off-road driving course with ease, as the sophistication of the suspension and sheer power of the engine provide plenty of momentum.
A distinctive twin-exhaust design and discrete V8 Diesel badges are the only distinguishing features of the diesel model compared with the petrol version on the road.
But diesel buyers have no fear of missing out on anything -- the new V8 diesel engine has two turbos and a compressor that ensures there is plenty of power available within milli-seconds of pressing the accelerator. The V8 diesel engine provides just as much torque as the petrol version, and is smooth as silk.
The 4-litre, 32-valve engine develops 320kW of power and a massive 900 Nm of torque, capable of propelling the Bentayga from zero to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.
Peak torque is available at just 1000 rpm, ensuring progress is smooth and effortless.
It is also among the cleanest of diesel engines. The sequential twin-scroll turbochargers are powered by the exhaust gases, while a third electric supercharger, powered by Bentley's 48V system, spools up within 30 microseconds, to eliminate turbo lag.
The bespoke exhaust system has been acoustically engineered to be as quiet and refined as possible. Riding in the Bentayga Diesel, you don't notice there is a diesel engine under the bonnet.
There is every creature comfort you would expect from the luxury brand, offering an armchair ride in the front and rear. It comes with either five or seven seats
On the dashboard is an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system, which includes 3D navigation technology, and a 60GB hard drive.
On the back of the front seats are two Bentley Entertainment Tablets -- each a removable 10.2-inch Android device with 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easy high-speed on-board connectivity.
But although the comfort level inside the Bentayga is exceptional, it is the sophisticated technology underneath that helps ensure a smooth ride, whether on the tarmac or off it.
The Bentayga can be specced with Bentley Dynamic Ride, an electric active roll control technology that uses a unique 48V system. It constantly counteracts lateral rolling forces when cornering and ensures maximum tyre contact to deliver excellent cabin stability and comfort for driver and passengers.
It uses a new lithium-ion battery system to react instantly to all sorts of road surfaces.
The Bentayga has an electric power-assisted steering system that enables light and fast steering.
Driven last week had a chance to test the hill descent system, which allows the driver to concentrate on steering and obstacles ahead while the vehicle handles a steep descent. It can be pre-set at speeds between 2km/h and 30km/h and works on gradients greater than 5 per cent. On a steep descent, it operated with complete assurance.
Like all Bentleys, the Bentayga Diesel comes with multi-mode air suspension. This offers four modes -- High 2, High 1, Normal and Low. The highest level can be chosen when the vehicle is on more severe off-road conditions.
Last week's test in the Hunter Valley included deep potholes and rutted dirt roads and, as long as the driver maintained a suitable speed, the Bentayga pushed itself on through deep mudpools with complete assurance and little driver intervention.
The Bentayga offers up to eight driving modes, allowing drivers to set the vehicle up for virtually any surface or road condition simply by turning a central dial. The driver information panel displays information on pitch, roll, wheel articulation, steering angle, compass bearing and altitude.
The Bentayga doesn't come cheap -- the price range of the three models we drove ranged from $401,000 to $414,000, once extras such as the Mulliner package were added to the $285,000 standard price.
The Bentley name is not traditionally linked with off-roading, but the large, robust luxury Bentayga SUV is equipped to handle rough and smooth terrain in luxurious comfort.