Hong Kong gets first look at Bentley’s debut SUV the Bentayga – and it’s a beast

Zero to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds, a top speed of 301km/h, a stately interior and built to handle any terrain imaginable, this imposing vehicle is worth the likely six-month wait

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 2:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 2:19pm

Bentley Motors has given its first glimpse of the Bentayga – the world’s largest, fastest and most luxurious SUV, with an equally superlative price tag of HK$4.25 million.

The unveiling ceremony, at The Repulse Bay, would have been dramatic enough without the accompanying rumbling thunder. The gargantuan, handcrafted vehicle is 5.14 metres long and, standing at a height of 1.74 metres, is Bentley’s tallest model.

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The timing of the Bentayga may bode well for Bentley, despite uncertain economic conditions. Competitors in the ultra-luxury segment racing to the production line include SUVs by Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce.

Raymond Choi, Bentley’s head of operations for Hong Kong and Macau, says demand has been strong in greater China and globally for the Bentayga, which went into production in November. Hong Kong orders are now being fulfilled, he says, declining to reveal the number.

“The key is, if you look at the whole car, it’s really the pinnacle. So for a customer, you want the best of both worlds [in an SUV] for different driving environments. You want to have speed, power, luxury and comfort, and you want refinement. So this is perfect,” Choi says.

The Bentayga is a hulk, with a gross weight of 3.25 tonnes, but has the power to zoom to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 301km/h. The momentum is achieved with a six-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine that generates 600 brake horsepower and 900 Newton metres of torque.

The decision by Volkswagen-owned Bentley to make an SUV was risky. The company, whose cars are still made in Crewe, Britain, built its reputation with luxury grand tourers and an historic racing pedigree. When it unveiled the first SUV concept in 2012, the EXP 9F, motoring enthusiasts were appalled.

The design, and the resulting vehicle, have come a long way aesthetically and in terms of engineering. State-of-the-art driver assistance systems developed for the Bentayga include eight off-road settings suitable for any terrain imaginable. There are modes for mud and rain, grass and gravel, snow and grass, and even sand dunes.

Without deserts and country estates for off-road use, Hong Kong millionaire owners may simply be left marvelling at the performance and immaculate interior of their Bentayga. In this respect, the SUV is as luxurious and stately as any Bentley.

Darren Day, head of interior design at Bentley, says the company wanted to create the ultimate SUV for the city and the countryside.

“A Bentley wouldn’t be a Bentley without the classic DNA elements. The power line that runs from the front wing into the door, and then the haunch line at the back of the car, gives it a very substantial, unmistakable Bentley appearance,” he says.

In the cabin, another distinctive Bentley feature is use of the marque’s wing emblem in the form of the dashboard.

“In the Bentayga, the upper wings flow around the technology areas and the lower wings envelop the cabin to give a sporty, cocoon feeling. The veneers in the dashboard run into the doors, and that creates a feeling of width and spaciousness,” Day says.

The Bentayga’s quilted seats, he says, were inspired by hunting jackets, and are adjustable in 22 ways. Customers can choose to have two or three seats in the back, where there are two tablets for entertainment. Back seat passengers also have greater visibility from a panoramic sunroof, which is standard in the Bentayga.

In terms of entertainment and technology, the vehicle has a mix of old-school analogue and digital displays. “Like a wristwatch, we wanted to have those beautiful dials and needles, and authentic mineral glass,” Day says.

The driver’s touch screens can also be used in a tactile, manual way. “We’ve even thought to put a finger bar on the bottom of the screen, so when you’re off-roading, you can rest your thumb on that to steady your hand when you’re using the screen,” he says. “That’s the level of detail we’ve gone into in the design of this.”

Choi says that given the strong demand for the Bentayga, customers will join a waiting list of at least six months before their SUV can be delivered. Many, however, will already have another Bentley in the garage.