Introduced the Bentley Bentayga officially at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 2015 Bentley is seeking to capitalise on the sustained demand for sports utility vehicles (SUV) by combining the exclusivity, performance and comfort of the brand with an off-road capable design. Strategically for Volkswagen the opportunity to steal a march on its rivals and capitalise on the Bentley name to create a new class of “hyper-luxury” SUV above the positioning of the Porsche Cayenne could not be missed.
The name for the car, “Bentayga”, was inspired by the Taiga Russian snow forest which spans the European and Asian continents and The Roque Bentayga peak in Gran Canaria in the Canary Island, emphasising the SUV element of the vehicle for off road terrain. Bentley has the positioned the Bentayga just below the Muslanne in its line-up and claims it is “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world.”
The Bentayga uses the next iteration of the Volkswagen Modularer Längsbaukasten (MLB) platform and draws its internal design from the Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg and next generation Porsche Cayenne. Despite the use of MLB 2 as the basis Bentley claim that 80% of the parts are unique to the Bentayga. VW claim that the Bentayga’s body is the largest aluminium pressing in the industry to date but it includes multiple steel composites within its design elements. The chassis has a long wheelbase at 5.14m which makes it longer than your typical Range Rover, but the lower height (1.74m) pays homage to the Cayenne and Bentley DNA inherent in the design, helping to reduce the centre of gravity and improve handling.
Engine & Powertrain
At the heart of the powertrain lies Bentley’s version of the VW W12 twin-turbocharged engine which first made its debut in the Volkswagen Nardo W12 Coupé supercar in 2001. The engine enabled the Nardo to break the endurance world record at the time but for a multitude of reasons VW declined to use the W12 engine in production. The basic W12 is the result of combining two 15 degree VR6 engines at a V-angle of 72 degrees. With only two overhead camshafts per cylinder bank this design saves tremendous space compared to a traditional 12-cylinder design and allows VW to incorporate all-wheel drive into its models using this engine.
The 6.0 litre W12 variant in the 2016 model Bentayga generates 600bhp at 6,500rpm and 660lb.ft of torque between 1,250rpm and 4,500rpm. The unit can propel the 2.3 metric ton SUV from 0-100kph (62mph) in an impressive 5.0s. Combined with the chassis the car has a top speed of 301kph (187mph) – making it the fastest production SUV in the world to date.
The Bentayga has an 8-speed paddle shift ZF semi-automatic transmission and a Torsen centre differential all-wheel drive system. The torque bias is weighted 60:40 to the rear, which is sufficient to counteract the traditional understeer associated with all-wheel drive configurations. VW’s highly effective EWAS active anti-body roll system is also present in the design, this significantly reduces body roll while cornering – crucial for an SUV.
Bentley has said that future models (2017) will also have a plug-in hybrid option and different engine configuration – a V8 is planned for 2018.
Bentley is not shy in describing the cabin as offering “unparalleled luxury”. The design uses the highest quality materials, from real brushed metal to the finest leather and diamond-quilted seats. The interior comes in either a 2 and 3-rear seat layout which folds away for extra luggage space if needed. There is also a future production model with a 7-seaterdesign that is currently planned.
Typical of the Volkswagen Group philosophy the car will be assembled by Bentley in Crewe where Volkswagen has invested £800m on a new plant to cater for the 3000-4000+ produced each year. Production is slated to begin in late November with the car officially launching in 2016.
With a base price of £160,200 the first years production run is already sold out, those wanting one now will have to wait till 2017 at the earliest.