It’s hard to believe that it was 4 years ago that Bentley shocked the world with the EXP 9 F Concept, a car that split opinions like nothing before. Clearly Bentley grabbed the attention of the worlds rich, queue the Bentayga. Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Wolfgang Durheimer said – “We are very excited by the potential of a high performance, ultra-luxury Bentley SUV. We know that many Bentley customers already own SUVs, admiring their style, luxury, performance and versatility. With EXP 9 F, Bentley is making a clear statement of intent that we have both the expertise and desire to meet and exceed their expectations.” His vision of this uber SUV has paid off with Bentley having built nearly 5600 cars, even exceeding their own expectations. This has truly been a phenomenal year for the British luxury brand.
‘Love it or hate it’ could not have been a more appropriate phrase for the EXP 9 Concept. Personally I was not a fan of the car, the light blue/silver colour of the concept car was not flattering to the already unmissable car. The design was bold to say the least. Massive 23″ turbine wheels, over-sized headlights with secondary lights recessed in the front bumper and the largest trademark matrix grille ever seen on a Bentley – it certainly made a statement. The interior on the other hand was far more restrained but hinted towards a more modern yet still familiar Bentley cabin. Bentley claimed at the time the cabin had to ‘combine luxury and utility’. I would have hardly called this a utilitarian cabin with sumptuous white leather, polished metal and glossy wood inlays. Possibly the only thing that hinted to this car being capable of tackling some grass were the grab handles on the lower centre console. Probably the most exciting aspect of the big Bentley was the promise of a W12 engine offering unrivaled performance.
2012 Bentley EXP 9 F Concept
Forward to 2016 and Bentley launched the Bentayga after a series of teasers. Thank goodness the SUV featured a far more visually appealing, toned down yet still muscular design. Before the motoring media was able the drive the car one question kept popping up, is this a true Bentley? The answer is simple, a resounding yes. The car combines what I would say are the pillars of the brand – style, elegance, speed and power. The epitome of British luxury. No doubt this would be the worlds most powerful and fastest SUV. Powering this beast is an all-new twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine. This magnificent 12-cylinder engine combines efficiency and refinement with serious levels of power and torque. With 447kW and 900nm of torque the SUV is capable of a frankly silly sprint to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 301 km/h. I think the car will go even faster than the claimed 301 km/h as Bentley always tends to under claim what their cars are truly capable of. As I write this article Bentley has unveiled their first ever diesel model. The new diesel Bentayga features the same engine as the Audi SQ7 but has been tweaked for the British brand. The 4.0-litre V8 develops 320kw and the same 900nm of torque as the petrol – which should provide seamless power and acceleration. An impressive figure of 292 g/km CO2 is made possible thanks to a Variable Displacement system, which shuts down half of the engine under certain conditions.
The Bentayga looks more inline with the Bentley range
The interior is typical Bentley with one of the finest interiors in the world. Like the rest of the range the interior features handcrafted wood and leather to meet customers expectations of complete perfection. This interior is made possible thanks to the exceptional skill of the workforce at Crewe. This gorgeous interior is made up of high polished metals and/or wood depending on customer requirement. 14 of the finest bull hides sourced from cold European climates are used to line this cabin. Customers have a choice of 15 standard leather colours to chose from, however for an extra fee the personalization options are limitless.. In terms of practicality there is the choice between a 4 or 5 seat configuration with ample space for all passengers who are fortunate enough to sit in the diamond stitched 22 way adjustable seats. The days of seeing VW parts in your Bentley are over as this car redefines the SUV segment with its stunning interior. There is one feature in this car that separates it from any other Bentley, the rotary dial sitting in the lower centre console. This dial can transform the Bentayga into the go anywhere vehicle Bentley promises.
Beautifully crafted modern interior
All-wheel drive is not something unfamiliar to the British marque. The entire Continental range comes with all-wheel drive. However the Bentayga unlike other Bentley’s takes this a step further with some truly capable off-road abilities. The Bentayga offers advanced, multi-mode Traction Control (TCS) as well as Hill Descent Control (HDC). As with most HDC systems it automatically regulates the vehicle’s speed on steep declines of gradients greater than 5%. As with all Bentleys, the Bentayga comes with multi-mode air suspension. The Bentayga driver has four different modes to choose from: High 2, High 1, Normal and Low. High 2, for example, can be manually selected when tackling more severe off-road surfaces. As no Bentley customer should have to work hard the rear suspension can be lowered via a switch in the boot, to ease loading or hitching a trailer. Bentley does however suggest that should buyers wish to take their Bentayga into the wild should avoid the 22″ wheels. However I can’t see many owners taking their R4 million ($300 000) SUV anywhere near the dirt, although it is nice to know it can.
The Bentayga looks good with some mud
In 2003 Bentley had 2 models – the aged Azure and Arnage. Later that year they launched what would become the most successful Bentley ever produced – the Continental GT. This car was with out a doubt the model that catapulted the British brand into the success it has become today. Customers now have the choice of 5 models with over 15 derivatives. Despite the numerous models available a Bentley customer is still buying into one of the most luxurious and exclusive car brands in the world. The Bentayga was an exercise in design that has paid off for Bentley and should pave the way for a slew of new models – exciting times ahead.
All images are taken from http://www.netcarshow.com