Blue sky driving

For years and years now, the Range Rover has been the master of the off-roader.

They are so capable off road but they are also great for driving over long distances. There are plenty of manufacturers wanting to milk the SUV cash cow: Jaguar, Maserati, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and there is even talk of Rolls Royce building one!

When Porsche introduced the Cayenne to the world, purists of the brand were in uproar. But the car’s SUVs account for over 70% of all sales. It’s no wonder then, that car makers are desperate to get a piece of the action. Jaguar’s newly launched SUV the F Pace has become the company’s fastest ever selling car.

That brings me on to the car I’ve been driving this month, now get ready for this. I’ve been driving Bentley’s take on the luxury off roader, the Bentayga.

Start the car, plant your foot on the accelerator and your neck is pushed back into the headrest with unbelievable power

The designer’s brief was to build the world’s fastest, most luxurious off roader. As soon as you enter the car, you can’t help but be wowed by the interior. When you start the car and plant your foot on the accelerator your neck is pushed back into the headrest thanks to the unbelievable power. It feels like a power boat with the front end rising under acceleration.

Starting the car sounds amazing with the engines growling- it just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Initially Bentley thought they would sell about 3,500 Bentayga’s per year but this has been increased to 5,500 units. Anyone fortunate enough to be invited to the factory will see Bentayga’s all over the place in various colours.

Now here is some news that will send a real shockwave through the very heart of Bentley purists’ necks; apart from the company launching an SUV, there is talk of a diesel engine being introduced for the Bentayga.

At the moment the car is fitted with a W12 6lt engine which produces 600bhp and it gets to 62mph in 4.1 seconds, with a top speed of 187mph; pretty impressive figures for a 2.4 tonne off roader. The car is priced from £160k but once you start ticking a few options the price quite easily jumps over the £200k mark.

One of the cheaper options is the cars over mats which are priced at £370 and believe me, they are very thick pile mats indeed. Music lovers will love the Naim premium audio system priced at £6,300 but the Tourbillon clock priced at £110k may even make a billionaire think twice about ordering one!

The cars styling is very brash. The front is pure Bentley but the back looks a bit like an Audi Q7; no surprise then that the Bentayga is based on the same floor plan as the Audi. The car is very colour dependant so if you’re lucky enough to buy one, make sure you get a dark colour with big alloy wheels.

bentley-imageI drove a car with 22” alloys and the ride was very comfortable indeed and opting for smaller alloys will improve the ride even more. The air suspension works a treat with most pot holes etc handled with ease.

Driving the car through winding roads it cornered with little or no body roll at all. The car has three driving modes from comfort, sport or Bentley mode. In Bentley mode the car drives the way the engineers would recommend.

Thanks to the double glazing the car is quiet at speed as well, beating all of its competitors quite easily. To help with economy, half of the car’s cylinders shut down. Power is split 40/60 with a bias of power going to the rear. Most owners will expect to return 15mpg around town and possibly about 23mpg on a long run. The car also has the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes and though I can’t see many owners having a caravan, I’m guessing it will come in handy for towing horse boxes.

The car’s interior just oozes quality, where robots are used for heavy lifting, every car is still hand made. The cars leather is just so sumptuous and the wood trims are multi lacquered and very highly polished indeed. Depending on how deep your pockets are you can choose from Californian redwood or even Stone.

The Bentayga’s dash is dominated by an 8” touch screen, 60GB hard drive infotainment system. The integrated Sat Nav is very good indeed and also incorporates voice control, text to speak and Wi-Fi, along with other connectivity options. The cars switches and buttons are still top notch, I was disappointed with the indicator stalks which looked cheap and in my opinion even the clock on the dash looked cheap despite being a Brietling.

Owners can choose from either three seats in the rear or two, with a raised transmission tunnel and both seats are massaging and they recline. Choosing the four seat car you lose out the chance to fold the rear seats. The boot isn’t massive and it only holds 431 litres of luggage.

The Bentayga’s styling makes it like Marmite, the car is an amazing off-roader with the luxury Bentley owners demand. The Range Rover has real competition for the first time in years and unlike its competitors it’s hand-made in the UK.

Car courtesy of Bentley Newcastle