In the hilltop refuge of Tejeda we find one of those immaculate little family-owned garages that must loom like a lagoon in the shimmering sands when it’s late and you’re running on fumes. The father and son team swoon over the Bentley, well aware of its significance despite the odd truth that the word Bentayga doesn’t appear on the car anywhere. And as we talk they explain that, in their view at least, this curious link between the remote heart of this island and a century-old maker of exquisite British automobiles can only be good for tourism.
We take on super unleaded (the sums for today work out at 14mpg, but that’s about as representative of typical usage as a day nailing run-wot-ya-brung quarters at Santa Pod), chocolate milk and more water. The rock’s within sight now, an imposing edifice silhouetted against the fiery evening sky.
The route there plunges first down and then up a toboggan run stretch no more than five miles long. It’s by far the
best road we’ve driven today: wide, cambered, sighted and riotously twisty. In Sport mode again but leaving the paddles well alone, the W12’s epic soundtrack, muffled all day by bank-vault cabin refinement, now snarls from the exhausts, battering the bare rock all around before thundering in through my open window with barely dissipated ferocity. What. An. Engine. Every time you sense the Bentayga’s Bentley-ness start to blur, perhaps with a pang of familiarity at some group electronics architecture or switchgear, the W12 snaps you right back into a happy place feel of WO, Le Mans blowers and unseemly haste in over-endowed saloons. It and the physics-defying suspension system are the two stars here. Together they bend rules, play fast and loose with the mathematics of the universe and let you charge about in a manner that should, by rights, see you punch clean through the guardrail and out into thin air in a Wile E. Coyote style.
With its stability control knocked off the Bentayga doesn’t feel overtly rear-driven, despite the nominal 40:60 front/rear torque split, opting instead for a neat and tidy neutrality, the now gooey Pirellis soaking up all the right-pedal brutality I can summon. Where the Bentayga falls back to earth a little is with its brakes, which never feel a match for the awesome engine. After a couple of full-blooded, downhill comer entries you find yourself wincing with sympathy. Kacher-ready ceramics are on the way.
Darkness has fallen by the time the road to the rock ends, at chained gates. Out of hours, we can go no further. We don’t need to – the obelisk is right there, looming overhead like an immovable Zeppelin. It’s an impressive sight on this near-silent night, the only sounds the hiss as the Bentayga drops to rest on its air springs and, way across the valley, two dogs disagreeing. When they make peace the silence is complete and all consuming. The faintest of breezes moves around both Bentaygas, a serene end to a serious drive in what is, despite its curious name, a serious car.