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Driven: Bentley Bentayga wait list tops 12 months

Hell bent on success: Bentley’s first off-roader is already attracting a significant audience with its combination of fiery performance, opulent luxury and typical Bentley panache.

All 206 Asia-Pacific allocation Bentley Bentaygas sold out for 2016


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17 Mar 2016

BENTLEY’S foray into the SUV world is now officially on sale in Australia from $423,600 before on-road costs, but the complete run of 206 Bentaygas allocated to the Asia-Pacific region for 2016 have already found homes.

As previously reported, Bentley predicts that the all-new Bentayga will increase overall sales by an almost unprecedented 50 per cent, but if the initial uptake is any indication, the British car-maker is on track to hit and possibly exceed its target.

Speaking at the Australian first drive of the Bentayga, Bentley Asia-Pacific dealer sales manager David Simpson said he was pleased with the reception and confident that the interest in the new model was sustainable.

“We’ve seen at least the first year or two’s worth of purchase intent in the system, which covers the first year of production, so we are very comfortable that the car is taken up well and it is received well,” he said.

While Mr Simpson could not confirm how many of the first run of vehicles were coming to Australia, he said that a majority would be for regions other than Australia, due to our discerning buying habits.

“We find with Australia, more than the rest of South-East Asia, that Australians want to see the car first and drive it before parting with any deposits.”

Despite the reserved behaviour of the Australian market compared with other areas of Asia-Pacific, Mr Simpson explained that interest had been significant and continuous.

“We know that the interest is there because the phone rings every other day asking when the cars are coming.”

If Bentley achieves the significant increase in sales with the new model, the flying-B-badged cars will become more common on roads around the world, but Mr Simpson said that by playing in a new segment, the exclusivity of the brand would not be harmed.

“This was one of the first questions that came out when we initially launched the car – is this car going to change you into a mass brand?“What makes us different (to other ultra-luxury brands) is we have a range, from the GT V8s (Continental coupe and convertible), sedans, luxury sedans and an SUV. I think we are competing in several different markets and that’s where these markets aren’t saturated.

“The step change in volume will come from a car that is creating its own market.

“I don’t think this will affect us at all in terms of becoming a more mass brand. This is for us to enter a new market and find new customers and create a luxury SUV market that’s never really existed before.”

Early adopters of the Bentayga will be treated to a special First Edition which will be limited to just 608 examples worldwide – its power output in pferderstarcke – which brings extra kit at no expense to the customer.

Bentley claims its new model is the “most powerful and fastest SUV ever” but the company would not make such a claim without a serious powerplant to back up its big call.

Under the Bentayga's bonnet lies a mighty 6.0-litre twin turbocharged W12 (imagine two Volkswagen VR6 engines siamesed side-by-side at the crankshaft) that develops a significant 447kW and 900Nm of stump-pulling torque.

The engine originated in production form with the 2002 Volkswagen Phaeton and by bunching the cylinders into an engine 24 per cent shorter than a more conventional V12 layout, the Bentayga has more under-bonnet space for its four-wheel drive system as well as cabin space.

For the Bentayga, the basic engine layout has received numerous developments to increase output, efficiency and refinement. Direct injection, twin-scroll turbos with integrated manifolds, a weight loss of 30kg, improved oil scavenging and three cooling circuits are all new to the W12.

Accelerating from zero to 100km/h takes just 4.1 seconds and the Bentayga won't stop until 301km/h is showing on the speedometer. That sprint time is one tenth of a second faster than the BMW X5 M, 0.6 seconds quicker than the Range Rover Sport SVR and is only matched by Porsche's new Cayenne Turbo S.

Part of the Bentayga's performance potential is thanks to the full torque figure being available from just 1350 rpm and staying at the peak 900Nm until 4500 rpm, at which point the 447kW maximum power is peaking and does not avail until 6000 rpm.

With such a low peak torque engine speed, Bentley says the Bentayga does not need a low range transfer box and instead, makes do with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Idle-stop and cylinder deactivation help minimise emissions and fuel consumption, which Bentley says stands at 296g/km, while an Australian economy figure has not been released. In European testing, the Bentayga uses 12.8 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Despite its aggressive on-road performance, Bentley says the Bentayga can also hold its own off the beaten trail, with a chassis and drivetrain designed to balance both.

While on the black-top the switchable Drive Dynamics Mode settings are used to select the correct chassis for changing driving styles. Sport offers the most body control with a firmer, lower ride, Comfort does as the name suggests, Custom allows drivers to tailor individual settings, while the Bentley setting is the favourite setting of the chassis engineers.

If optioned, the Off-Road Specification adds four extra settings with Snow & Grass, Dirt & Gravel, Mud & Trail and Sand Dunes all fairly self-explanatory.

If any of the four off-road settings are selected, the Driver Information Panel automatically displays a selection of vehicle information, such as the air-suspension height, body inclination, suspension travel, steering angle, altitude and compass bearing.

Its suspension has a maximum travel of 225mm, maximum ground clearance of 245mm and up to 500mm of water can be waded in the Bentayga. Composite material and metal under-body protection is provided if the ride height is not quite sufficient for obstacles.

Its ruggedness was tested over 1.6 million kilometres in numerous regions around the world from temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees and Bentley says that to earn its quality star of approval, the Bentayga must be able to achieve its maximum speed in 40 degrees.

Under further testing, the big Bentley has negotiated inclines in excess of 35 degrees in each direction and was subjected to towing test with a 3500kg trailer load.

When on-road, the Bentayga keeps all four hoops pointing the right way with electric power steering and a 48V electric active roll control system, which cancels body roll in corners with active anti-roll bars – the first of its kind for an SUV says Bentley.

But the Bentayga would not be a true Bentley without the extensive list of bespoke materials, painstaking craftsmanship and long list of comfort features.

Here too, the British car-maker has obliged.

Seventeen standard paint colours can be extended to the full 90 pallette for a little extra cash, or if that simply is not enough choice, Bentley will colour match any sample you present including your favourite handkerchief to your finest shotgun barrell.

Wheels are 20 inches in standard fare but can be upgraded to a 21-inch hoop or a special 22-inch forged version which is the largest wheel made to date by Bentley and is even handed, so the spokes always point forward on the car.

Interior leather is of the finest quality, says Bentley, and is available in three dual-tone splits or a monotone theme for even more customisation options, while the various trim cappings and dash can be expertly hand veneered in seven different woods and colours.

Five packages make the customisation process simpler for customers starting with a Mulliner Driving Specification, which adds the 21-inch wheels, diamond quilted leather, drilled alloy pedals and a ‘jewel’ fuel filler cap.

The Event Specification is quintessentially Bentley and adds a sliding rear-facing seat for two adults to spectate an outdoor activity from the comfort of their car while enjoying the shelter of the tailgate or romantic “stage lighting” at night.

An All-Terrain Specification adds more under body protection, the extra off-road modes and additional off-road vehicle information to assist the driver in adverse conditions.

The Styling Specification adds a range of carbon-fibre extras to the Bentayga’s exterior including a “bi-plane spoiler”, front and rear aerodynamic splitters and sportier exhaust tailpipes.

A Black Brightware Specification may sound like a contradiction in terms, but adds a selection of gloss black trims to various exterior components for a stealthier look.

Other options include an electrically folding side step to assist boarding and alighting but an electrically folding towbar that stows out of sight when not in use is unlikely to comply to Australia’s tough towing safety specification compliance.

Still got some spending money left? How about a Linley leather upholstered and refrigerated three-piece picnic hamper set that doubles as a seating set? Or for the ultimate Bentley accessory, a Breitling Mulliner Tourbillon dash-mounted time piece, crafted from solid gold with a mother of pearl or ebony face and eight diamond indexes.

Those options make other standard equipment that would be notable on some other branded vehicles seem almost pedestrian. Full LED headlights, a panoramic glass roof with tilt and slide panels occupies 60 per cent of the roof area, and the “floating” driver information panel is installed behind pure mineral glass.

Front seats are either 16 or 22-way adjustable depending on the specification and have heating, cooling and massage functions of course. If specified as a four-seat cabin, the second row is treated to 18-way adjustment with massage and cooling as well.

Even thee boot is luxurious with features not found in many fine luxury car main cabins, such as a leather load cover and stainless steel tread plate. The suspension can be lowered to assist loading.

Unsurprisingly, the Bentayga has a comprehensive list of driver assistance and safety systems, including high beam assist, blind-spot monitoring, exit warning, which warns of approaching traffic when the door is opened and a hill descent with locking differential for more all-terrain flexibility.

Customers can add an optional City Specification, which brings traffic sign recognition, pedestrian warning and brake preconditioning if a collision is likely, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree camera and parking assistance.

The Touring Specification option adds adaptive cruise control which operates down to stop/start traffic, autonomous braking, active lane assistance, head-up display and a night vision camera.

At the centre of the Bentayga’s information and entertainment systems is an 8.0-inch touchscreen and 60GB hard drive, complemented by a 3.5-inch hand-held unit for rear seat passengers.

For more entertainment options in all seats, Bentley offers the Rear Seat Entertainment package, which gives second row occupants a 10.2-inch tablets with internet connectivity and access to millions of Android applications inside and out of the car.

The standard 10-speaker sound system can be upgraded to 12 speakers, 12 channels and 700 watts of power, or for the ultimate in audio treats, the Naim Premium stereo with 18 speakers and 1950 watts.

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