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Bentley Bentayga W12 review

Bentley Bentayga W12 review.

For – all the perfection that money can buy.
Against – see above.
£210,205  ***** 

“show-biz show-offs and sheiks”

“No doubt in the history of Bentley, nobody in the showroom has yet even asked how many miles to the gallon it might get”

The sun was shining and I was cruising along a country road with my favourite music playing to film my latest test car and all was right with the world. That would be exciting enough, but this time I was off to the beautiful South Downs and Firle, near Lewes in Sussex, and I’m behind the wheel of a massive and luxurious Bentley Bentayga, the kind of car most of us can only dream about driving and even less owning.

The Bentayga oozes quality and money. When you open the door the smell of the best quality wood and leather hits you. Everything around you is pure class. The “organ stop” devices which control the air conditioning vents are beautifully made. The analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard glints in the sunlight. No surprise because it’s a Breitling with “a light mother of pearl face, £2,995,” according to the options list. The wood and leather are the result of many hours of top flight craftsmanship at the factory in Crewe, which unlike most modern car plants is actually full of highly skilled people and low on robots.

Bentley Bentayga review

It’s hard to avoid superlatives with the Bentayga, which Bentley says is the fastest, most luxurious and exclusive SUV in the world. That might well be true now, but soon when the Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce SUVs take the stage, it might have to dilute this hyperbole a bit.

The engine is a 12-cylinder 6-litre, twin-turbo monster developing 600 hp, enough to blast this leviathan from rest to 60 mph in 4 seconds. There is an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Press the starter button, and the 12 cylinders ignite a spectacular high-pitched whine which quickly settles down into an ominous whisper. There is a diesel V8 available and a hybrid is coming. No word yet on an all-electric version. Off-road around Firle, there were eight settings available at the touch of a dial to match the conditions, but I let the computer make the decisions. A  panoramic glass roof is standard. When you visit the local horse show, you should add the folding event seat which slides out from the back. That extra wasn’t on my test car.

Bentley Bentayga review

On unlimited German highways this beast will manage 187 mph. If you’re wondering why Bentley engineers settled on such a weird number, that adds up to 300 km/h in most of its markets. Fuel consumption is important for us serfs, but not for the show-biz show-offs and sheiks who will be buying the Bentayga. Bentley claims an average 21.6 mpg, but I only managed 18.3 mpg. To be fair, this fell to 16.9 mpg whilst filming with lots of off-road, low-gear stuff and soared to 19.6 mpg while ambling along at about 50 to 60 mph on country roads, with half the cylinders idling to conserve fuel as promised in the specification. Interesting that Bentley only exaggerates fuel economy by 15 per cent, compared with its mainstream rivals more usual 30 per cent plus. No doubt in the history of Bentley, nobody in the showroom has yet even asked how many miles to the gallon it might get.

“the Bentayga’s computer detected some non-existent hazard, and tightened my seat belt so hard that it felt like someone had punched me in the chest.”

The Bentayga felt a bit floaty on the road but held itself amazingly flat through winding and tight high speed curves. The floaty feel may  reflect my own humble Suzuki Vitara which has a rather harsh ride. Even on Britain’s third world, pot-holed roads the bumps were swept aside with disdain by the Bentayga. The steering was beautifully weighted and a delight to use. There are so many drivers’ aids that it would take an intensive course to find them all, but I did push a button and stumbled on the “head-up display. That projects speed limits and sat-nav instructions above the bonnet without having to take your eyes off the road and I wish I had one.

Bentley Bentayga review

Any complaints? For sure. The indicators didn’t make enough noise and I occasionally left them pointing either left or right by mistake. That might have induced some rage by following class war warriors. And once, when slowing down for a junction, the Bentayga’s computer detected some non-existent hazard, and tightened my seat belt so hard that it felt like someone had punched me in the chest. It goes without saying that all mod-cons in terms of connectivity and driver safety are on board.

Bentley Bentayga review

Because the Bentayga is so huge and therefore makes a big initial impression, the conventional wisdom seems to be that, sure, it’s impressive, but is in fact rather ugly. That was my impression when I first saw the prototype, but reckoned it had been improved by the time the production version hit the road. I have to say that my own ad hoc survey resulted in an overwhelming view that indeed ugly it was. One comment came from a plumber at my local gas station who wondered over and asked for a look inside. He was impressed. “I hope you don’t mind me saying mate,” he said, “but isn’t it a bit ugly?” UTube viewers of the drone video say the same thing. But Bentley won’t be worrying. Sales around the world are ticking over nicely at about 5,000 a year.

4 Kia Picantos
I mentioned the clock in the version I drove cost nearly £3,000. But the list of extras was amazing. The base price is £162,700, and the options came to a whopping £47,505. It made me think that you could buy 4 Kia Picantos, the car I drove the previous week, for the cost of the extras. Looking at the options list suggests Bentley isn’t slow in coming forward to maximise profits. The most expensive item is £6,615 for “Naim for Bentley’ premium audio system”, which I can attest is superb. Then there’s £5,635 for “rear seat entertainment with Google maps”, All-terrain Specification £4,955 which includes a “luggage management system” which I didn’t figure out, top view camera and underfloor protection, City Specification (£4,330) including park assist and traffic recognition, Touring Specification (£6,195) with Head-up display, lane assist, night vision, and traffic assist, which senses other vehicles and initiates small steering inputs to avoid collisions. But there are items like first aid kit and warning triangle £105, battery charger £100, valet key £220 and hand stitching to steering wheel £165, that might annoy buyers, if they could be bothered to check the list.

Bentley Bentayga review

Since you ask, the Bentayga is named after a mountain peak in the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic close to Morocco.

Should you buy one?
Trying to make a judgement on a vehicle which is so far out of the reach of normal mortals is difficult. Other SUVs are almost as big, like the Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 (on which this Volkswagen subsidiary is loosely based), Range Rover, BMW X5 come close in size, and the biggest Mercedes. All these competitors are about to or have already announced plans to make bigger versions. They also have fantastic performance and much luxury. But the Bentley has that extra oomph in the minds of its super-rich buyers because of its devotion to craftsmanship and traditional materials, not to mention its iconic status. If you think Bentley, you see the first high-speed machines with their death defying and cavalier drivers. Much has changed since then, but not Bentley’s aura.

Bentley Bentayga review

Bentley Bentayga

 Bentley Bentayga W12
Engine:6.0 litre twin turbo 12 cylinder gasoline
600 hp @ 5,000–6,000 rpm
900 Nm @ 1,350-4,500
8-speed automatic
Acceleration:0-60 mph 4.0 seconds
Top Speed:187 mph-301 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined 21.6 mpg-13.1 l/km
WintonsWorld road test  18.3 mpg-15.4 l/km 
CO2:296 g/km
Emissions class:
Length:5,140 mm

2,440 kg

double wishbones/multi-link
Boot capacity:
431 litres
Competition:None, yet
Price:£162,700 with extras £210,205
For:all the perfection that money can buy
Against:see above

Bentley Bentayga W12 review 2017


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