The pukka pack­age

Bent­ley’s first diesel pro­pels an el­e­gant brute. Iain Curry gets posh, dirty­ing a $400K-plus SUV

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE -

THE fore­courts of five-star ho­tel drive­ways and Mid­dle East lux­ury malls are the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments for Bent­ley’s ul­tra-luxe Ben­tayga SUV.

Mud on the flanks sul­ly­ing the Union Jack badges? Well, that sim­ply wouldn’t do. Cer­tainly not for the vast ma­jor­ity of own­ers of this most re­gal of ve­hi­cles.

But we’re here to show the well-heeled Bent­ley buyer there is abil­ity beyond travers­ing a slightly soggy polo club field.

Af­ter all, the Bri­tish brand asks you to part with $427,300 for a 6.0-litre W12-en­gined Ben­tayga and $335,000 (all be­fore on-roads) for its new diesel sta­ble­mate.

For such coin, you should know your hard-earned had bought the true “go-any­where grand tour­ing ca­pa­bil­ity” Bent­ley prom­ises in the show­room, even if you never in­tend to use it.

Cue an ad­ven­ture drive for jour­nal­ists not afraid to get muddy ... from the com­fort of heated Mulliner Di­a­mond Quilted seats, nat­u­rally.

This be­ing Bent­ley there’d be no sausage siz­zle brekkie be­fore a two-week odyssey along the Can­ning Stock Route. In­stead, pro­sciutto and smashed av­o­cado were served in a Ben­tayga’s boot equipped with op­tional $55,000 Lin­ley Ham­per set, be­fore a gen­tle cruise to NSW’s Hunter Val­ley winer­ies and a rea­son­ably tame off-road course.

Even so, how won­der­ful to ac­tu­ally put to good use the un­doubted all-wheel drive smarts of these el­e­gant brutes.

Our steeds were all Ben­tayga Diesels, claimed to be the world’s fastest (270km/h) and most po­tent (320kW/900Nm) lux­ury diesel SUVs. In nearly a cen­tury of ex­is­tence this is the first diesel from Bent­ley, and the brand didn’t want to play se­cond fid­dle.

Audi’s SQ7 ($153,616) shares its plat­form and 4.0-litre triplecharged (twin-turbo with elec­tric su­per­charger) V8 with the Ben­tayga Diesel. Bent­ley claims a 0.1-se­cond quicker sprint time to 100km/h with 4.8 sec­onds.

All 900 of those New­ton me­tres ar­rive at just 1000rpm, and there re­ally is no de­tectable lag thanks to that 48V su­per­charger fill­ing in the blanks as we cruise out of Sydney. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is mon­strous, the en­gine note meaty and dis­tinctly non-diesel like and, with foot planted, you are grace­fully pulled to silly speeds in a sump­tu­ously cos­set­ing cabin.

Fuel econ­omy? It’s quoted as 7.9L/100km but we logged about 6.5L on the high­way and a com­bined 8.3L by mixed-road jour­ney’s end. That is an in­cred­i­ble re­turn for such per­for­mance, and the 85L fuel tank should al­low bet­ter than 1000km be­tween stops.

So to the dirty stuff. We wouldn’t be tack­ling any­thing hard­core as our ’Tay­gas all had 22-inch wheels rather than the stan­dard 20s. These smaller rims are sug­gested should you op­tion the All-ter­rain Pack­age ($13,641) for the more se­ri­ous off-road­ing mil­lion­aire, which brings four off-road set­tings, sump guard and 360-de­gree cam­era. Bent­ley Aus­tralia hasn’t seen much take-up.

But out of the box cre­den­tials are good. You score a Torsen cen­tre dif­fer­en­tial, open rear diff, hill de­scent con­trol and hill hold. The air sus­pen­sion can pro­vide 500mm wad­ing depth and 245mm ground clear­ance — handy, but not a patch on a Range Rover.

De­spite its 22-inch wheels the pala­tial SUV eas­ily crawled up dusty in­clines, han­dled a rea­son­able gra­di­ent un­der hillde­s­cent then rolled its way through a string of muddy pud­dles that half-cov­ered the wheels. The V8’s wads of low down torque made the en­tire ex­er­cise feel too easy and pow­er­ing your way out of trou­ble would seem­ingly solve most prob­lems here.

Our ad­ven­ture, de­spite be­ing on the tame side by Aussie off-road stan­dards, was more test­ing than what would be asked by 99.9 per cent of Ben­tayga own­ers. And with­out doubt the Brit could han­dle plenty more, should you ever wish to at­tempt it.

At more than 2.5 tonnes with two on board, its road­hold­ing al­most de­fies physics as the hefty thing con­fi­dently changes direction, with good firm steer­ing feel with Sport mode se­lected.

Even with­out the op­tional Dy­namic Ride (the world’s first elec­tric ac­tive roll tech­nol­ogy), body roll was no cause for com­plaint at speed. Save your money and tick more lux­ury boxes in­stead. Of these, there are plenty.

Our three test cars all fea­tured Bent­ley’s Mulliner Driv­ing Spec ($40,812) bring­ing among other things, the re­quired di­a­mond quilted leather fin­ish in­side. With a few other ad­di­tions each Ben­tayga cost be­tween $470,000$485,000 on the road.

Shop­pers need not be put off by the “cheapie” diesel Ben­tayga. It’s a tal­ented and sump­tu­ous torque-filled weapon in any lan­guage and, de­spite its salu­bri­ous skin, won’t shirk its off-road du­ties when called upon.

Marvel­lous, old chap.

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