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New Bentley’s a beauty… And a beast

The Bentley Bentayga
The Bentley Bentayga

There’s no getting away from it and it has split opinion wildly – although many people I spoke to about it were clear – they just don’t like the look of the Bentley Bentayga.

From the incredibly aggressive front end with the massive Bentley grille dominating a snub-nose and eye-popping lights, this is a Bentley like no other.

It’s squat rear end is the source of most chat from those who have an opinion on these things – and everyone does when it comes to the back of the Bentley.

Is the down-to-earth Dacia Duster the 4×4 crossover for you?

But this is ground-breaking stuff, an SUV from the people who have never done it before and who normally concentrate on luxury and performance in traditional saloon models.

And a diesel to boot.

At first sight this Bentley–named after the spiritual Roque Bentayga range on Gran Canaria–is an unusual beast and it’s difficult to put your finger on
what makes your eyebrows raise.

Its proportions are massive.

While sharing the same platform with other VW marques, like the Audi Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne, more than 80% of its parts are unique–and this is one unique car.

I love the bug eye lights on the front and after a few days the ungainly looks really begin to gel and resonate with you. The attention to detail, like the Bentley name on the inside of the headlights and the rear lights emulating the marque’s logo, is just breathtaking.

It’s an utter beast when parked next to other mere mortals but it’s only when
you get inside this beautiful monster that you truly begin to appreciate what it’s all about.

Swathes of hand-stitched leather, mounds of walnut and wonderfully-crafted style and solidity make it a fabulous place to be cosseted.

The amazing elevated driving position is an utter joy like so many of its SUV
neighbours, but it’s the ability to go from genteel cruising mode to ferocious
acceleration – 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and galloping onwards to 168mph – that makes it so astonishing.

And it does it with a surprisingly refined burble rather than the guttural roar of other supercars. I’ve driven a few Bentleys and they do everything you expect of them; they lavish you in luxury and create an ambience like you are sitting in the drawing room with a smoking jacket on (not that I’ve done
either), but the Continental GT and Flying Spur don’t excite me as much as this Bentayga did.

It’s not the performance or the levels of luxury because only the most pernickety person could pick between them in terms of craft and sumptuousness.

But there’s something about the Bentayga that really grows on you.

It makes you smile when you’re tootling about town in the epitome of sophistication and then you push hard on the pedal on the open
road and it rockets onwards.

And this in a diesel; a diesel with 429bhp. Even the fact it was white – Glacial white to you and me – made me smile and I hate white cars. If you can afford this kind of luxury – and with all the extra kit on my test car came
in at £178,000 – you’re not worried about the kind of fuel efficiency you’re likely to get but what is incredible is that being gentle in town and having some fun on the open roads, I was managing to get over 34mpg out of it; 34mpg out of a two and- a-half-tonne rocket.

It’s wonderfully quiet and refined, although I was surprised at the level of
wind noise at relatively – ahem – low speeds, but I guess that goes to show how quiet the phenomenal V8 engine is.

It handles corners well, as well as anything this size and height can do, courtesy of some very clever Dynamic Ride electrics and 21-inch rims. You wouldn’t chuck it into the bends, but you don’t need to be a slouch either.

Downsides? Well, I thought the stop/start technology was a little too slow to
re-engage when you wanted to get moving again and the infotainment system isn’t the most simple to navigate, but they were minor foibles in what is an astonishing motor vehicle.

Is it worth the money? Well, only those with deep pockets would ever be able to answer that, but it is one of the finest cars I’ve driven and comes close to my favourite car of all time (no, I’m not saying).

If I had the cash, I’d certainly be seeking more chances to drive this beast and
thinking about what colour leather the hand-stitched seats should be…