Bentley invents a new class of ultra-luxe SUV

by alice forstead

With its all-new W12 powertrain, the recently released Bentley Bentayga is officially the fastest and most powerful SUV in the world (apologies to Porche Cayenne fans, who will surely blanche at the declaration). Its 6-liter engine outputs 600 hp to deliver a simply ridiculous 0-60 time of four seconds and a top speed of 187 miles per hour. Mind you, this is a nearly 5,400-pound vehicle making those numbers.

The British maker was also at pains to make its first SUV capable of off-highway performance. It offers the widest range of on- and off-road drive settings of any SUV, via the company’s Drive Dynamics Mode and optional Responsive Off-Road Setting (in all, eight modes are available, allowing drivers, at the turn of a dial, to select for a variety of surfaces and road conditions), complemented by Dynamic Ride (essentially active roll control), electric power-assisted steering, and a driver information panel that displays information on pitch, roll, wheel articulation, steering angle, compass bearing, and altitude.

For everyday driving, but with an analogous eye on stability and safety, the Bentley offers Adaptive Cruise Control, including stop-and-go and predictive cruise, while its Traffic Assist enables the driver to maintain a set distance to the vehicle in front. Predictive cruise, by the way, uses navigation data, sensors, and cameras to predict upcoming corners, city boundaries, and speed-limit changes and can modify vehicle speed accordingly. In urban environments, there is Traffic Sign Recognition, which detects a variety of signs and displays information to the driver; a Rear Crossing Traffic Warning that uses radar to detect crossing traffic when reversing out of a parking space; and Top View, which uses four cameras to display a video of the surroundings.

The interior is what one might expect from the team of wonderful eccentric from Crewe, UK. The dashboard takes the iconic Bentley “wing” design as inspiration, its finished surfaces flowing from door to door and over the top of the instrument binnacles, down under the centre console, and back up around the passenger side fascia and foot well. Hand-selected veneers are found throughout the cabin, each of the 15 wood pieces shaped from a choice of seven veneers. Trademark Bentley knurling on the drive mode selector, gear knob,and pulls adds sophistication and tactile refinement. Whether selected in four- or five-seat configuration, all of the leather seats in the Bentayga are available with contrast stitching and a quilted diamond design applied to the shoulders and bolsters, echoing the design of a finely tailored British hunting jacket…of course.