The idea of a Bentley SUV still seems somewhat surreal, even though the finished product will debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next week. Bentley hopes its Bentayga’s combination of performance and luxury will help it climb new mountains, and not sink to the bottom of the mud pool of mediocrity.
When Bentley unveiled the EXP 9 F concept back in 2012, it was met with groans. The production Bentayga is a lot better, but it doesn’t stray too far from what we expected. The design more or less consists of styling cues taken from other Bentley models, and draped over a standard SUV shape marked with a fast-looking D-pillar.
At the front, the grille and lower air intakes look similar to what you’ll find on the Continental GT, as do the headlights. Those lights do hold some interesting details, though, including LED elements and washer nozzles concealed in the painted area at the center of outboard driving lights. At the back, a rear spoiler and tailgate ducktail provide actual downforce, Bentley says.
The Bentayga will need that downforce, as Bentley has some impressive performance goals for it. It claims a top speed 0f 187 mph, which will likely make it the fastest SUV in production, along with 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. Bentley also says the Bentayga completed over 400 laps of the Nürburgring as part of its development.
Helping the Bentayga achieve those impressive performance figures is an all-new 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12, which will eventually replace the current-generation W12 used in other Bentley models. In the Bentayga, this titanic engine produces 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, which is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Bentayga rides on a modified version of the Volkswagen Group MLB platform that underpins the current Audi Q7, which is something elitist owners probably won’t discuss much. Bentley says extensive use of aluminum saved about 520 pounds compared to conventional construction methods, although at 5,340 pounds, the Bentayga is still quite portly.
Bentley also claims the Bentayga will have genuine off-road ability, and to make that more than a boast, it equipped the SUV with adjustable air suspension that can be raised up for rough terrain, hill descent control, and Bentley Dynamic Ride, which adjusts the stiffness of the anti-roll bars electronically. There are also driver-selectable modes for different types of terrain.
However, Bentley hasn’t addressed what will happen when owners drive their Bentaygas out into the wilderness and mess up their posh interiors. This SUV will be just as luxurious as any other Bentley, with options that include a four-seat configuration with 18-way power-adjustable rear chairs. There are also Android tablets mounted in the backs of the front seats, and an exquisite-looking steering wheel with what Bentley says is the industry’s smallest airbag.
The Bentley Bentayga will officially debut next week at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, and the first customer deliveries will begin in early 2016. Expect those customers to pay north of $200,000 to put Bentley’s first SUV in their driveways.