GRR

The Goodwood Test: Bentley Bentayga Diesel

15th October 2017
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.

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Heritage

The Bentyaga was Bentley’s first, inevitable foray into the world of luxury SUVs. With it, the men from Crewe stole a march on all the competition: Rolls-Royce launches the Cullinan next year, ditto Lamborghini with its Urus (McLaren still swears it’s going nowhere near an SUV), and Land Rover is doing more and more upscale versions of the Range Rover. Audi launches the Q8 next year and BMW its X7, both top-of-the-range SUVs with big price tags and bucketloads of luxury.

The Bentayga launched with Bentley’s W12 engine under the bonnet, but it was followed by a V8 diesel and now there’s a V8 petrol on the way, with plug-in hybrid to follow. Thus flows the inevitable cycle of a high-performance car these days.

What is more interesting, however, is that with the launch the V8 Diesel last year, the option of seven seats appeared on the menu. The world of the luxury seven-seater is a small one (believe me, coming from a blended family of two adults and four boys, I know of what I speak). Rolls-Royce has not yet ruled out seven seats, but the Q8 and X7 look unlikely to offer such a layout, with their coupe-style roofs.

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Design

Identical to all other Bentaygas from the outside, the styling of this model is dominated by the single slabs of aluminium casting the sides of the huge SUV. Those big single circular headlamps tell you it’s a Bentley, as does the huge mesh grille. This is not a car for wallflowers.

Inside, however, there is no other SUV, luxury or otherwise, that touches the Bentayga for refinement. The leather hides are as soft as clouds, the veneers deep and glossy, the knurled aluminium on the buttons and switches cool to the touch.

Here’s the odd thing though: pure luxury normally comes at the expense of practicality. But, such is the internal space of the Bentayga, that, with the third row of seats up, the car has more boot space than any of its competitors, Volvo XC90 included. It is a truly useful people carrier. Who knew?

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Performance

And here’s another odd thing. This section normally starts with some crazy horsepower figure and goes from there. But let me take you, in a Bentley review, possibly for the first time ever, straight to the mpg figure. Because, six people up, I was averaging 32mpg from this 4.0-litre diesel V8. That’s the same as I was getting from my long-term Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2-litre diesel. Only, in this case, 32mpg is matched to 429bhp and 664b ft of torque, shifting a car weighing more than your house.

Nothing more to say, really. 

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Passion

It’s an SUV, but one which we are deeply passionate about. It seats seven, it’s as quiet as the British Library, as comfy as an armchair in the Garrick, and really, really fast. We just don’t understand the detractors. Yes, Bentley’s building SUVs. So what? How else do you expect it to build fancy two-seat sports cars and invest in motorsport? For those who thought their days of luxury motoring were over when they gave birth to their third child, we’re here to tell you: the salad days are back. If you can afford them. 

Price from: £135,800

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