When I was a little boy, aged about four and a quarter, I drew a picture of “mummy in a truck”. My mother was so taken with the picture that she kept it. Although at the time I had no idea why I placed her in a truck, I now feel that I was being extraordinarily prescient about the future of cars. The design, if you can call it that, as it was rendered with fingers covered in a vast multitude of mixed paint colours, was uncannily like the new luxury SUVs we have seen flooding the market in the last decade.
Bentley appear to have taken Ettore Bugatti’s quote, perhaps exclaimed out of envy, that W.O.’s cars were the “world’s fastest trucks” at face value and actually implemented the idea. When it first came out, the Bentayga was the first of the generation of ultra-luxury SUV cars that were designed to be all things automotive to all people. To have the speed and performance of a sports car, be able to deal with all terrain and to ensure that all passengers were safely and luxuriously transported to their selected destination. It is a very tall shopping list of requirements. SUVs before the Bentayga were only required to do some form of subset of the list. Since then, of course, where imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, other ultra-luxury car brands have produced their own version of the same ultra-luxury SUV: Rolls Royce and Lamborghini come to mind.
Despite being in production only five years (since 2015), the Bentley off-road car has become the marque’s best seller. However, in this day and age, car technology does not stand still for long. The Bentayga was in need of some upgrades, including bringing the exterior into the same design codes as the rest of the Bentley range (with the Mulsanne now discontinued). As a result, the new model presents a broader and more upright front grill, a slight indent (clamshell like design) in the rear of the car, wider wheel arches and newly designed slimmer elliptical head and rear lights with the same cut-glass internal effect as on other Bentley models. The movement of the four all drive train has been moved a few millimetres out and forward at the front of the car and parts of the bonnet and the tail have been slightly squared off.
Among the major changes in the cabin we find a new centre fascia and steering wheel, new door trims and all-new seats – now available with ventilation in the rear of the five-seat cabin option. Passengers at the back enjoy significantly more space, with legroom increased by up to 100 mm depending on configuration. The luxurious interior can be further enhanced with the application of dark tint diamond brushed aluminium trim for the first time in a Bentley, as well as two straight-grained veneers new to Bentayga: Koa and Crown Cut Walnut. Mulliner Driving Specification adds a new quilting design, and micro piping detailing is a new option for the seats.
The Bentayga’s technology package has also caught up with the other Bentleys with an expansion of its digital interfaces. Car technology moves at an ever-increasing pace and the electronics required for the Bentayga’s off-road stabilization and the new interior touchscreen displays have been all upgraded.
Most of the cabin space functions are controlled with a new 10.9-inch touchscreen that is placed within the arching leather dashboard. New vent designs and (paradoxically perhaps) an analogue clock face complete the look. The car dials (mph, rev counter) have been updated; the previous physical dials are now incorporated into a single digital display aided by a new “head-up” panel above it. Equally, on the tech front, the new Bentayga has software compatible wireless Apple CarPlay and through the USB-C wired connection, Android Auto compatibility.
The reprofiled bonnet hides a 542bhp 4-litre twin-turbo V8 model for the moment with the PHEV V6 plug-in hybrid and range-topping W12-powered Speed reportedly arriving later this year. The Bentayga also comes with the eight-speed automatic transmission, full-time all-wheel drive and Bentley’s three-chamber air suspension, which will be standard-fit across the range. Also included is the marque’s own active anti-roll system. Overall, the new Bentayga looks more balanced and off-road orientated than its predecessor and in terms of performance, the car will reportedly accelerate from 0 – 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with a top speed somewhere around 180 mph. The Ettore Bugatti conjecture appears well founded.