Gina Baksa heads to the Italian Tirol and puts Bentley’s Bentayga Diesel through its paces
We’re at Innsbruck airport, waiting to helicopter over to the fabulous San Luis resort in the Italian Sud Tirol before next day’s Bentayga test drive. But the gods have other plans and fog over the city’s Nordkette mountains means a no fly.
We can start our 6-litre engines a whole day earlier! The route? A 2-hour drive across the Brenner Pass down into Italy via Bozen, then snaking up past Bolzano to San Luis at Haferling. A superb mix of motorway and mountain roads for testing Bentley’s first diesel – and the chance to enjoy the Bentayga’s explosive 12-cylinders, 600hp and 8-speed transmission.
The Bentayga first came to market in September 2016 and has since sold well across all markets. In fact, Bentley is on a ride with a total of 11,023 cars (all models) sold last year across the world. Externally this chunky luxury SUV may lack the sporty sexiness of the GT Continental but she’s unmistakably Bentley: large dark grille, four round headlamps in a V silhouette, Bentley badge and the V8 twin exhaust in an 8-shape. The Bentayga has a boxy yet athletic look with its long bonnet, shorter front overhang and a longer rear haunch.
The deep body with a shallower window gives it a look of solidity while the sunroof extends the full length of the top, giving a streamlined silhouette. Inside the cabin, attention to detail and renowned craftsmanship is all here: leather hand-stitched seats, wooden veneers, metal inserts, oval air vents with pull stop controls and the Breitling analogue clock that makes me feel like I’m about to announce “chocks away!”.
The all-new 8-inch central touchscreen has all the bells and whistles you could ever need: new navigation with a 3D display, massive hard drive for storing music and even an optional digital TV. Connectivity is key with new generation Bentleys so thanks to Bluetooth, 4G phone module/Wi-Fi hotspot you’ll never lose touch. The rear seats can also have optional entertainment tablets (Android) – useful for keeping the children happy on longer journeys.
With a top speed of 169mph, the Bentayga is officially the world’s fastest SUV. She also has superb range – around 1,000km (621 miles) – a marked increase on 12-cylinder models that might get you 350 miles to a tank. No pesky refuelling for us with our monster 85-litre tank. Much more grand tourer than your average SUV, we had sufficient gas to get us to Barcelona if we so desired.
The Austrian/Italian motorways proved a solid testing ground for the Bentayga’s responsive acceleration, braking and safety features. Thanks to her responsive acceleration of 0 to 60mph in 4.6 seconds I avoided near-death experiences via fatigued truck drivers veering without warning into our lane.
Safety measures like the orange warning lights on the wing mirrors were also very welcome. Fully responsive brakes managed to reign in the 3.25 tonnes of sexy steel and aluminium with ease when other drivers failed to indicate before changing lanes. Safety first with the Bentayga.