Motoring Bentley Harwoods

A few years back, my heart sank at the inevitable news - premium manufacturers were all getting in on the booming SUV trend. “Please no, don’t do it,” I thought, “stick with what you do best and don’t jump on the tedious bandwagon…”

I was to be sorely disappointed as now every single premium and supercar manufacturer has an SUV in their range, with the exception of McLaren – for now! Even Ferrari has just launched its Purosangue model.

There are few l have not reviewed and, in the main, they have all made a pretty good fist of it – as long as we ignore the ugliest car on the market, the horrendous, vomit-inducing Rolls Royce Cullinan. But enough said about that barnacle.

Therefore, it was with trepidation that the Bentley Bentayga landed on my drive for review, as l dearly love the Bentley range and this SUV could throw a spanner in the works. My thoughts were positive, as the Bentayga made up almost half of all Bentley sales in the
UK in 2019.

Since its launch in 2015, it has sold very well. Here, l have the facelift version of that launch model, with over a thousand new parts – better looking after a slight facelift. A 20mm increase in the rear track greatly improves the Bentayga’s stance and tightens the handling. Bentley has also added cut-crystal to the headlights for even more sparkle and l have to say, on full beam these are some of the brightest and best headlights l have ever come across. They’re a little like the Jumbo Jet landing lights – they illuminate a huge range of roadway in front of you and on country roadsand on country roads, that’s really useful.

This will never be a fleet-of-foot sports SUV due to its bulk but l was really impressed with its road presence, handling and sheer stance on the tarmac. There is endless, glorious power coming from the monster 542bhp W12 6-litre V12 twin-turbo engine and if
you are slightly deranged (like me), you can go one better with the Speed model, delivering 626bhp and, as they say, if you have to ask about the miles per gallon, you can’t afford it!

There are three power units available –this 6-litre W12 (shortly to be dropped), a twin-turbo 4-litre V8, a Hybrid 3-litre V6 and the mighty Speed. In my opinion, the 4-litre V8 is the one to go for. All offer four-wheel drive.

The interior is gorgeous, hand-stitched leather seats, a beautiful Breitling clock, and Bentley has retained the classy silver pull knobs for the air vents; it’s a fabulous place to be, and Monaco and back would be a breeze.

I have the extended wheel base EWB with an extra 180mm of space that offers two luxurious seats in the back with legroom that goes on for ever, plus there’s a special place for the Champagne and two flute glasses but the regular model offers seven seats. The rear load space is cavernous.

Bentley has done a great job with this car. It does everything you want, and always with great style and panache. There’s enough power that, no matter how many passengers you allow inside, it makes no different to the speed as there is plenty of power to overcome the extra weight and it is a joy to drive.

In terms of competition (and l will not speak of the RR ugly duckling), l love the Lamborghini Urus, the Aston Martin DBX and the Range Rover but the first two miss the point as they are quite compact, and that really is not what you want from an SUV. The new Range Rover is sound but getting rather tired and long in the tooth now and the car park is stuffed with them.

Therefore, the Bentayga sits in a class of its own in offering sheer luxury, acres of space and more power than you will ever use. It starts at £164,000, which is reasonable for this standard of car. You can spec it up all the way past £300,000 if you really put your back into it.

All in all, a great car that l could drive all day and all night.

Model tested: Bentayga W12 6-litre twin-turbo
Power: 600bhp
Speed: 0-62 - 4.5seconds
Top: 190 mph
Economy: 21 mpg
Price from:£169,000
As tested: £222,460

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