Half an hour of coastal motorway is child’s play for a car this refined, this comfortable. Bentley’s ‘commanding driving position’ boast sounds like so much brochure bluster until you find yourself, well, in command: body held just-so in a soft embrace, nicely snug wheel in your hands (complete with oddly tactile seam around its circumference. The power, the elevated driving position view, the Bentayga’s very agreeable cockpit ambience – it all comes together to make time spent here feel less chore and more privilege: welcome, very comfortable isolation from the hot, abrasive, loud and less comfortable world beyond. The only threats to your complete contentedness are the cheap-feeling shift paddles to the back of the steering wheel and a subtle but discernible restlessness to the air suspension’s ride on some sections of grainy, weathered blacktop.
Keen to get around to the island’s west coast, the rugged, undeveloped counterpoint to the east coast’s high-rise sprawl, we loop through capital Las Palmas and on, the dual carriageway running by the sea for a while, a weird juxtaposition of thundering multi-lane roadway and wild coastline. From what feels like a hot, slow A1 (M) I gaze down on an azure sea studded with packs of surfers bobbing in the swell.
At Agaete the traffic thins out, leaving only impatient locals in weathered Seats and determined tourists – some in hire cars, some inexplicably packed into vast tour coaches – keen to test themselves against the island’s ‘most dangerous road’.
As the GC-200 finally gets underway, the view opens out from mundane to majestic. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I didn’t expect this. The road’s cut into the hillside perhaps 200ft above the crashing surf, and around each headland the coastline stretches on in a series of implacable, uninhabited rock slopes that soar from indigo sea to a sky hazy with spray. Dusted with hardy grasses and long-dead skeletal brush, the ochre slopes are smudged with the dark green of precarious trees higher up. Throw in the ethereal light and the sea mist and it’s like some Industrial Light and Magic CGI rendering of a prehistoric world.
The road’s good, too. The tarmac is flawless – the kind of ultra-grippy, jet black good stuff that makes me wish the Bentley wasn’t on all-season tyres, with the layer of fuzzy feedback and lost response that always comes bundled with them. Nevertheless these comers are too good to cruise so the Bentayga goes taut in Sport mode, bringing instant response to the throttle pedal and banishing the gearbox’s normally very likeable predilection for the tallest possible ratio at any given moment (a contributor surely to that could-have-been-worse 296g/km CO2}. After all, why manically batter between gears with 650lb ft on offer?