First drive: Bentley Bentayga W12

By JAY WONG | 2 May 2018


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Carsifu was given a rare opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Bentley Bentayga - an ultra-luxury sports utility vehicle (SUV) that has until recently been declared “the fastest sports utility vehicle in the world”.

After spending a day last week with an SUV costing upwards of RM1.8mil, this writer has become a firm believer that the Bentayga is capable of providing its owner with lavish amounts of luxury and performance.

Under the bonnet lies one of the most unique engines ever made with 6.0 litres of displacement spread over 12 cylinders in a W-configuration and two turbochargers bolted on. The mighty mill is linked to an eight-speed automatic.

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That’s not all. The 2.4-tonne behemoth rides on 21-inch wheels wearing special 285/45 Pirelli Scorpion tyres that can deal with the engine’s 600hp and 900Nm of torque - just so it can sprint from 0-100kph in 4.1 seconds before topping out at 301kph (the Lamborghini Urus claims the crown with a 305kph top speed).

Although the Bentayga is fast in a straight line, it can easily handle twisty roads with panache.

As powerful as it is, the SUV also offers plenty of comfort regardless of whether it’s onroad or offroad. The ventilated seats are bolstered and the cabin is well-insulated against noise, vibrations and harshness (NVH).

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Performance

With huge power readily on tap, there are only two ways to indulge.

First, by slowly sipping and savouring all of its 600hp and 900Nm like a well-aged brandy or down it like a shot of tequila. As big as it is with about 2.4 tonnes of heft, it’s still capable of launching from 0-100kph in 4.1 seconds, thanks to the 900Nm of torque that’s readily accessible from a lowly 1,350rpm. It’s 600hp, on the other hand, peaks from 5,000 to 6,000rpm.

The combination means that power delivery is instantaneous and the driver will find it hard to resist the urge to floor the throttle just to feel G-forces pinning him into the seat. Indeed, this SUV feels nimble for its size.

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Ride & handling

New owners need to be forewarned that this SUV can be a beast when the throttle is floored and yet can be docile when cruising around town or along the highway (where cylinder de-activation may kick in).

Overall, the Bentayga is a bundle of joy to drive over uneven road surfaces.

There’s little to complain about from within the well-insulated cabin when heading along the uphill section of Jalan Maarof in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

When pushed to the limits, the Bentley provides copious grip.

There were instances where understeer tried to rear its ugly head in over-enthusiastic driving around twisty corners but this was easily corrected by a dab on the brake pedal.

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Exterior

The Bentayga’s looks is subjective to the eye of the beholder. It’s still identifiable as its stablemates from Crewe. The front end sports the trademark Bentley grille and a four-lamp cluster. The LED headlights integrate signal and daytime-running lights with the Bentley name inscribed.

Frankly, it took me a while to get used to the SUV after seeing it in person for the first time at its regional launch in Singapore last year.

The Bentayga starts showing its sporty side in profile. The slightly flared wheel arches seem to almost swallow the already large 21-inch wheels. The shoulder line interestingly starts from the top corners of the front grille, continue on the lower tier of the bonnet, and reaches to the middle of the rear door before fading away.

Another crease runs at an upward angle towards the rear end of the chromed section along the SUV’s lower flanks before levelling out just under the rear door’s windows and then extending itself all the way to the rear end to emphasise its muscularity.

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Interior

The cabin looks extremely inviting with its combination of Camel and Beluga leather.

Complete with polished Dark Stained Burr Walnut veneer, elegance and sophistication are abundant. The fit and finish are impeccable and the seats are far more comfortable than perceived.

Although I am 175cm-tall, headroom is ample all around. There’s also plenty of shoulder room and knee room across the two rows.

The driver has a commanding view and the back of the head is well-cradled by the soft and cushy headrests.
Those with a keen eye will notice the familiarity of the dials, control stocks, steering wheel, bezel-less rear view mirror and the driver’s window controls that hails from Audi. The top of the dashboard with a centred analogue clock simply shouts Porsche.

This Bentayga features a specially-tuned Naim sound system and rear passengers are treated to headrest-mounted screens that can be detached and used like tablets.

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Practicality

The large dial located below the armrest allows its driver to select drive modes.

This luxury SUV has eight driving modes including Sport, B, Comfort, Custom, Sand, Snow, Dirt and Gravel.

Moving further back, the slant of the rear end seems to have limited the boot size to 431 litres, which expands to 1,774 litres with the 60:40-spilt rear seats that can only be folded about 90% of the way down.

A hands-free operation of the tailgate is also included, but proved to be finicky.

When it does work, there’s an Event Seat trimmed in leather and finished with diamond quilting fitted in the boot with a patented sliding and folding mechanism so that the driver and passengers can enjoy the view while being shaded by the tailgate during the day or illuminated by the built-in stage lighting from above at night.

Another option would be to enjoy the night sky’s view from within the vehicle via the retractable panoramic sun roof.

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Summary

Although the Bentayga share parts with other cars from within the Volkswagen Group’s family, the posh factor is still high.

The handling is very sporty and performance can be breathtaking. This SUV is up to the task, whether traversing on tarmac or trudging over dirt trails or slopes.

The Bentayga takes luxury and performance in its stride. While the Bentayga cabin is a sanctuary of luxury and calmness, its sheer performance delivers on the fun in all manner of terrain.

It all depends on how heavy or light-footed the driver is.

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SPECIFICATIONS

Bentley Bentayga

Engine: 5,950cc, twin-turbo W12
Maximum power: 600bhp from 5,000 to 6,000rpm
Maximum torque: 900Nm from 1,350 to 4,000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Acceleration (0-100kph): 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 301kph
Fuel consumption (combined): 7.63km per litre.
Fuel tank: 85 litres
Kerb weight: 2,440kg

Features: Airbags, LEDs for front adaptive headlamps with High Beam Assist and rear light cluster, wide oval exhaust tips, chromed matrix-grille, 360-degree camera, reverse camera, underfloor protection, Park Assist, pedestrian warning, reverse traffic warning, adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, night vision, rear event seat, tailgate down lights, powered rear door sun blinds, Bentley dynamic ride system, Naim for Bentley sound system, navigation, rear-
mounted detachable tablets and
handsfree tailgate.
Price: RM1.8mil (including taxes, duties and added options)
Warranty: Three years unlimited mileage.

 


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