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