THE Bentley Bentayga has already been a huge success for the British luxury manufacturer; depending on which market you’re in, the waiting list for the brand’s first SUV could be as long as two years. That demand is only likely to grow with the addition of this new diesel variant – the first Bentley not to use a petrol engine. There is a risk involved, but make no mistake; the new Bentayga Diesel is a car that could only happen because Bentley knows there is demand for it .
Well heeled customers, it would appear, do get annoyed by regular visits to the petrol station – not on grounds of cost, but because of the sheer time-wasting inconvenience of it all. In any case, the Bentayga’s diesel motor is a long way from your regular Volkswagen Group 2.0-litre TDL It’s based on the same 4.0-litre direct-injection V8 unit that we’ve already seen in the Audi SQ7, and is fed through an intelligent four-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic transmission. The motor features two twin-scroll turbos that operate at different areas of the revrange, and an electrically driven supercharger that responds within 30 microseconds to offer improved response when pulling away.
As a result, peaktorque of 900 Nm is delivered at just 1,000 rpm, with the full 429bhp available from 3,750 rpm. That’s enough to take a vehicle weighing almost 2,390 leg from 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds -and on to a top speed of 168mph. Those figures crown the Bentayga the fastest diesel SUV in the world. The efficiency is pretty remarkable for such a heavy vehicle, too; claimed fuel economy is 35.8m pg, and the Bentayga diesel emits just 210g/ km. More importantly, it can do around 1,000km (620 miles) before needing a fill-up.
That’s enough, Bentley claims, for it to get from London to Verbier, Bordeauxor the Scottish Highlands on just a single tank of fuel. The chassis gets air suspension as standard, and can be ordered with what Bentley calls Dynamic Ride – a system that uses the car’s 48V electrics to power active anti-roll bars designed to keep the car flatter during cornering. Should you wish to take your Bentayga off road, Hill Descent Control is included, and you can also specify Responsive Off-Road settings that allow you to fine-tune the car for the conditions.
That aside, it’s regular Bentayga – which means opinion-splitting styling and a cabin filled with just enough leather and high-grade wood trims to make you forget that you’re driving a car based on the Audi Q7. On the road, Bentley’s work with the V8 engine – which gets a different map, fuel feed system and exhaust set-up from the Audi’s – is clearly evident. The colossal torque is delivered in a more linear fashion than on the SQ7, with a more progressive approach at low revs that mates it easier to drive smoothly during tight manoeuvres.
Once you’re running, though, the surge just doesn’t know when to give up; progress is swift and it’ll pull well past 4,000rpm. Refinement is impressive – another area where Bentley has made gains over the Audi. At a 70mph cruise it pulls just 1,200rpm – and at that speed, you won’t hear it. The chassis setup is more agile than it needs to be; its happy to change direction quickly, belying its near-2.5-tonne mass.
The steering is light and the gearbox is intelligent, with smooth, rapid shifts. You may only regret the Bentayga’s pace if you over-co mm it to a braking zone; at this point, the SUV can’t disguise its weight. Still, you’ll be comfortable, for while body roll is well contained through corners, the Bentayga does a decent job of soothing bumps. Overall, it’s extremely well resolved.