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The Bentley Bentayga might have split opinion in the style stakes, but under the skin it’s something a bit special

James Lipman
James Lipman

Contrary to popular belief among people who get a free bus pass, we do still make things in Britain. More often than not, they’re things to be proud of.

Take the Bentley Bentayga. There isn’t enough room in a simple car review to explore all the things that make it a great piece of engineering, so let’s take the chance to get to know it a bit better.


You could argue that there are two hearts to the Bentayga. The first is craftsmanship. Bentley calls it the finest automotive interior in the world, and whether that’s actually true or not, it is rather nice. Choose your leathers, your wood veneers and your accessories, right up to a Breitling timepiece in the dashboard that adds more or less the cost of another Bentayga to the price tag.

The second heart is the engine; a unique combination of brains and brawn with 12 cylinders arranged almost as two V6s squashed together. Check out an image of the cylinder head. It’s a monster of an engine, with 600bhp, 663lb/ft of torque and shockingly instant response. Despite the hyper-luxury SUV weighing about as much as France, those numbers factor up to a top speed of 187mph and a 0-62mph sprint of 4.1 seconds. Pretty much as fast as a Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupé.

So it’s the world’s fastest SUV and it’s the planet’s most luxurious as well. If you’re not already nodding your head in appreciation, do so now.


Let’s move on to its breadth of talents. Loads of manufacturers release SUVs and crossovers claiming that they’re all things to all men, but rarely, if ever, are they proved right. But the Bentayga drives like a true Bentley as well as being a damn sight more useful in rough stuff than, say, a Mulsanne. God forbid anyone who ever takes one of those off-piste.

Up to eight driving modes are yours via a rotary selector dial, with a bunch of those specifically intended for different off-road terrains. From squidgy comfort mode to full Rambo, the Bentayga’s attitude, ride height and four-wheel-drive adapt to what you ask of it. The transformation is frankly astonishing. Although the weight – and the road tyres – count against it, independently controlled wheels mean that drive constantly goes only where it’s needed. Bentley says adding locking differentials simply wouldn’t improve it off road, so there was no point.

But at the end of the day, it’s the fact that it’s at least as good on tarmac as a Flying Spur that really stuns you. Beneath the extra height there’s something extremely fancy that lets the Bentayga punch well above its already considerable weight. Most car electronics run on 12-volt supplies, but some of the clever weight saving, performance-enhancing systems now hitting production need something beefier.

The Bentayga’s trick suspension owes everything to a 48-volt electricity supply, which controls the stiffness of the dampers in real time. A 12-volt system wouldn’t have a chance of dealing with such high forces. The really clever bit is that it can isolate load from impacts, i.e. bumps in the road. It means that while hooning around a corner (on a race track, obviously, officer), the Bentayga can still absorb bumps like a Bentley should, despite barely allowing any body roll at all. It’s uncanny; you have to drive one to believe it.


It’s faster than a greased comet, more luxurious than an Oriental spa and features more clever technology than Tim Peake has ever even heard of. It’s a mighty piece of British engineering, or rather European engineering made real in Britain. Brits, Germans and engineers from a number of other countries across the world have made it happen.
It’s a fabulous example of what we still build in this country. Long may it continue.