We’ve been waiting patiently for this day and it finally came this week. Bentley took the wraps off its highly anticipated SUV and shared it with the world. While we won’t be able to get behind the wheel until later this fall and the Bentayga won’t go on sale until next spring, everything else that can be known about the super premium SUV is known and we’re pleased to be able to share it with you now.
Bentley has wandered into uncharted territory when designing and building an SUV. The real question is can an SUV truly be a Bentley? In order to do that it has to live up to the four pillars of the Bentley brand: unparalleled performance, exceptional comfort, uncompromising style and unapologetic luxury.
W12 Crewe Power
First, because Bentayga is a Bentley, it’s all about the power. After all, they make the fastest luxury coupe and the fastest four-door luxury sedan so they must, of course, make the fastest SUV known to man. How fast? The Bentayga tops out at 187 mph (301 kph) and can sprint from 0-60 in four seconds flat. It does this by wedging an all new, Crewe-built 6.0 Liter, twin-turbocharged W12 TSI engine between the front wheels. By using twin scroll turbochargers Bentley has reduced turbo lag and the Bentayga pulls hard from very low revs, generating 664 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,250 rpm. Using a combination of direct and indirect fuel injection, Bentayga’s engine delivers 600 horsepower and is designed to operate under the most extreme conditions.
This engine is more than just powerful, however. It also features cylinder deactivation technology that shuts down half the engine when the power isn’t needed. Intake and exhaust valves, fuel injection and ignition are all shut down on defined cylinders, with the engine running as a 6-cylinder for improved efficiency in third through eighth gear, below 3,000 rpm and up to 221 lb.-ft. torque. Bentley also employs start-stop technology in its W12 for the first time, improving city mileage.
Another important change to the W12 was made to accommodate Bentayga’s off-road mission. The oil pan and pickup system have been redesigned to ensure proper engine lubrication at up to a 35° angle in all directions.
Putting the power down
Getting all that horsepower and torque to the ground in a useful fashion is not an easy task. It starts with a ZF built eight-speed automatic transmission that was strengthened for the high stresses of off-road driving. The full-time, four-wheel-drive system has also been upgraded from brand’s passenger cars and you can dial in one of four drive modes – Snow/Wet Grass, Gravel, Mud/Ruts, and Sand/Desert – with a radial selector on the center console.
While the transmission and AWD system are off-road ready, Bentley also knows these cars will spend a significant amount of their lives on pavement. As such, they’ve incorporated an open rear differential into the system that allows the car to coast or freewheel at highway speeds. Another feature designed to improve efficiency, when you lift off the throttle in fifth through eighth gears, the torque converter opens and the engine drops to idle, allowing the car to coast using very little fuel. The transmission re-engages when you put your foot back on the throttle or the car senses you picking up speed on a downhill.
Bentayga is available with three wheel sizes, 20″, 21″ and 22″ but with only one tire choice. Pirelli Scorpion All-Season ATV tires. Z rated to handle the Bentayga’s prodigious speed, these tires are designed more for on-road performance than off-road traction. The Scorpions will nonetheless be able to take you pretty much anywhere you’re likely to go in a Bentayga.
Handling Terrain and Tarmac
Bentayga rides on a fully independent, multi-mode, air leveling suspension and uses Electronic Power Assisted Steering to help you keep it pointed in the right direction. As you’d expect the suspension and steering are adjustable to allow you to set the steering feel and suspension stiffness that best suits the terrain, road surface and weather conditions. Bentayga also introduces a Bentley’s Dynamic Ride, electronic active roll control. Eschewing conventional anti-roll bars, Dynamic ride immediately counteracts lateral rolling forces when cornering to ensure optimum tire contact with the road surface. Bentley also employs Electronic Stability Control, advanced multi-mode traction control and hill descent control which allows you to focus on steering while speed is automatically maintained by the car.
Bentley extensively tested Bentayga’s in all manner of conditions including treks to South Africa, the deserts of Dubai, Cheshire mud fields, and the icy North Cape where temperatures often reach -22° F. Bentley also ran the Bentayga for over 400 laps on the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit to tune the ride and handling.
Bentayga is far and away the most luxurious SUV ever produced. The cabin has been handcrafted in Crewe with wood, leather and metal throughout. Bentley artisans create each of the 15 veneer surfaces from any of the seven different veneers offered. Like other Bentleys, the drive mode selector, gear knob, vent pulls and other metal elements are finished in brilliant metal with exquisite knurling improving how they look and feel. The front seats are covered in hand-cut and sewn leathers and are available with contrast stitching and their trademark quilted diamond design. If you choose the four-seat configuration the rear seats feature 18 adjustments and include heating, ventilation and a massage function.
The Panoramic sunroof opens interior space to the outside world, but maintains the desired isolation from noise through the use of acoustic interlays to reduce sound. The rear storage area is large, carpeted and isolated from the main cabin. And if you like it can be kitted out with an optional Mulliner Hamper Set which includes a refrigerator, Linely china cutlery, plate and glassware as well as a storage area for dry good, so you can enjoy the ultimate picnic in your ultimate SUV. Another option is a Tourbillon Breitling clock that is one of the most complex watch mechanisms ever put in a car. To get a better understanding of this timepiece, check out this review from our friends at Hodinkee.
Designed to make a statement
Outside Bentayga is pure Bentley featuring a large version of the mesh grill that appears on the Continental, Flying Spur and Mulsanne. The headlights are flush mounted round LEDs and actually take their cues from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept that we saw in New York this spring. The lines are strong and clean with an athletic bulge at the rear quarter panel. The wheels are pushed out to the corners giving it a bold and confident stance. Seeing it out of the camouflage for the first time, we’re very pleased with the final results.
So only two questions remain for us with the new Bentley Bentayga: How does it drive and how much does it cost? We’ll have to wait a bit on both, though we’ve heard rumors that the base price will be in the $225,000 – $250,000 range. Stay tuned for our impressions when we get behind the wheel of this beautiful beast from Bentley.