Bentley’s plush luxury cars may spend most of their time shuttling One Percenters from the boardroom to the country club, but they’re equipped with all-wheel drive, powerful engines, and other performance-enhancing features. So every year, it invites customers to Finland, to see what their cars can really do.
The carmaker’s “Power on Ice” event allows customers to drive Bentleys in the bitter cold on 10 ice tracks. It seems like the perfect place for the brand’s new Bentayga SUV and, sure enough, the Bentayga will appear in frozen wastelands long before many members of the general public are likely to glimpse one on the streets.
Of course, Bentley doesn’t send people out on the ice unsupervised in vehicles costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. They receive instruction from the Bentley Ice Driving Team, led by four-time World Rally Champion and two-time ice-speed record holder Juha Kankkunen. He also designs each of the tracks.
Judging from its specs, the Bentayga should be pretty entertaining to drive on ice. On pavement, Bentley says it will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, and reach a top speed of 187 mph. That velocity comes courtesy of a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 that produces 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
There’s also a sophisticated all-wheel drive system and numerous electronic features meant to help the driver approach non-pavement situations. That include adjustable air suspension, programmable driving modes, and Bentley Dynamic Ride, which adjusts the stiffness of the anti-roll bars electronically.
The Bentayga rides on a modified version of the Volkswagen Group MLB platform, which underpins the Audi Q7 and will likely be used for numerous future VW Group models. Bentley says about 520 pounds was saved by using as much aluminum as possible, but the Bentayga still weighs a titanic 5,340 pounds. It won’t be mistaken for one of Juha Kankkunen’s World Rally cars.
Bentley customers can try their hand at ice driving for a starting rate of 11,900 euros (about $13,000) per person, which includes accommodations at the Chalet Ruka Peak. The Bentayga’s price of entry is somewhere north of $200,000.