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01 Dec 2017

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Test unit specification costs over a million bucks

Bentley's very first diesel offering, the Bentayga Diesel, offers effortless driving and comfort wrapped up in sheer opulence.

When Bentley first introduced the Bentayga, it was quite a bold move for the brand who had never produced a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) before. Now, Bentley takes that one step further with this Bentayga Diesel - yet another first for Bentley by being the very first diesel offering from the brand.

Woah woah woah, hold up now. A diesel?

Yes, under the bonnet of this Bentayga lies a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 diesel engine. But there's nary any of the clatter or noise you'd expect from a diesel (at least from inside the cabin), while power delivery is extremely smooth and surprisingly linear from a turbocharged engine.

The 4.0-litre biturbo V8 diesel engine pumps out 429bhp and 900Nm of torque

And you get heaps of power too - 429bhp and 900Nm of torque, capable of shoving this 2.5-tonne car from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds. But this being a large seven-seat SUV, power should be low down on the list of priorities.

High on that list should be refinement, and here the engine definitely impresses. It's smooth, quiet and very usable, allowing you to cruise on the highway and potter around town with effortless ease.  

Yes, it is also technically more economical than the equivalent W12 petrol variant, but let's be honest, anyone buying a Bentley isn't going to be particularly concerned about fuel economy figures.

The Bentayga comes equipped with a variety of driving modes to tackle any given situation

But how does it drive?

Pretty damn well, for all intents and purposes. In a straight line it's certainly fast, helped by the fact that there's little turbo lag and the surge of torque at low revs. It's quiet and very comfortable on the go, and the driving position is high and mighty. The multi-mode air suspension also does an immaculate job of absorbing every bump on the road. 

The Bentayga also drives smaller than it actually is - you don't feel the full heftiness of the vehicle until you get into a carpark and then start worrying if it'll exceed the maximum height limit (it probably won't).

And even through corners, the Bentayga Diesel demonstrates good poise and balance, with body roll kept reasonably well in check thanks to the Bentley Dynamic Ride, the world's first electric active roll control technology. It's no sports car, but it's quite impressive considering the physical realities of this very big car. 
It's still dripping with opulence, right?

Definitely. Our seven-seat configuration test unit came pretty handily specced out. The car came with the Mulliner Driving Specification, with consists of 22-inch wheels, additional diamond quilting to the seat bolsters, shoulders and door inserts, jewel fuel and oil filler caps, drilled alloy sports foot pedals, and embroided Bentley wings emblems. Additionally, the car came equipped with the optional Responsive Off-Road Settings, offering a variety of different multi-terrain drive modes.

The spacious and luxurious cabin is quite a place to be in. And it'll reasonably seat seven too - the third row of seats will comfortably accommodate smaller-sized adults. This car oozes luxury and richness. And in some ways, it probably should. It's a Bentley after all.

The cabin is dripping with luxurious opulence, just as you'd expect from a Bentley

Who's going to buy this car?

That's the big question. Well, the truth is that it's probably a very limited group of people. But we reckon if you are choosing between this engine and the W12, there's a good case to be made for this diesel. Yes, it may lose out a tad in terms of aural character, but this V8 is arguably the more practical choice - it's slightly cheaper to run, but gives nothing away in terms of daily usability. Power, refinement, smoothness, it's all there.

It's tempting (and easy) to want to mock the Bentayga for not really being a 'real Bentley'. But think about it - as an SUV, it's highly impressive and tough to fault. And the diesel engine is an all-round fantastic bit of kit. So as far as the brief goes, the Bentayga Diesel has certainly achieved what it set out to do.

Stylish, comfortable, luxurious and effortless to drive, the Bentayga Diesel delivers the complete Bentley experience

But look beyond the fact that this is a diesel SUV, and you realise that it's very much still a Bentley. It delivers all of the Bentley experience you'd want and expect - comfort, luxury and style - all to a level that is a tad excessive.

So say what you want about it, but the Bentley Bentayga Diesel isn't just a damn good SUV, it's a damn good Bentley.

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