Bentley has fired the first salvo in a new war of the ultimate luxury SUVs with the unveiling of its Bentayga.
The model will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 15th September and arrive on UK roads in early 2016 at prices likely to be more than £130,000.
Visually the Bentayga is very different to the EXP 9F concept that was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, and attracted wide criticism.
The new car is lower and more sporty than the concept, with a profile that will make it instantly recognisable as a product of the Crewe, UK-based manufacturer.
It is a large car, measuring 5141mm long, 1998mm wide and 1742mm high, with a wheelbase of 2992mm. It seats four or five occupants as standard though a seven-seat variant is in development.
Bentley is pitching the Bentayga as the ultimate luxury SUV, describing it as “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world.” However the brand also expects the car to offer traditional SUV versatility, adding that is combines “unparalleled luxury with sporting ability, off-road performance and everyday usability”.
For the Bentayga an all-new W12 petrol engine has been developed in house at Crewe, the 6.0-litre unit offering 600bhp and 663lbft of torque. As result the Bentayga will be a rapid SUV, passing 62mph from rest in 4.1 seconds and going on to a maximum speed of 187mph.
The engine features twin turbochargers, a combination of direct and indirect fuel injection and the variable displacement system already seen in models from sister brand Audi. This allows half of the unit to shut down when not required with the engine running as a six-cylinder, helping improve efficiency by 11.9 per cent over the brand’s previous W12 engines.
Combined cycle fuel economy is quoted at 22.1mpg with emissions of 292g/km, while further efficiency will eventually be available – Bentley has also revealed plans for diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the Bentayga.
The transmission combines an eight-speed automatic gearbox with a four-wheel-drive system which Bentley says has been specifically strengthened. While not many owners are expected to take the Bentayga significantly off road, it must be capable of doing so.
A host of new technology debuts in the Bentayga, the most notable being Bentley Active Ride, an electric roll control system that counteracts the body rolling that vehicles with high centres of gravity, such as SUVs, are prone to.
The Bentayga’s interior is being described by its creators as the finest in any automobile – just one day after former sister brand and now rival Rolls-Royce revealed a sumptuous interior in its Dawn drophead.
Seven different veneers were used on the 15 separate pieces of wood trim, which sits alongside leather and polished metal to the finest tolerances yet seen in a Bentley. Owners will also be able to personalise their car in virtually any way they wish through the Mulliner programme.
Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Dürheimer dubs the Bentayga as “truly the Bentley of SUVs” saying that it redefines luxury in the SUV sector and offers a genuine Bentley experience in any environment, thanks to a combination of unparalleled attention to detail, go-anywhere ability and cutting-edge technology.
“With this extraordinary car we are looking forward to an exciting period of strong growth and sales success for Bentley– the Bentayga is the next step in our brand’s bold future,” Dürheimer adds.
And the Bentayga is expected to greatly boost the Crewe brand’s annual volume, selling more than 3000 examples a year to take Bentley’s annual output significantly past 10,000 cars.
The car will also soon gain rivals – Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini are luxury makers known to be working on SUV models, both seeking to replicate the success that Porsche has enjoyed in the premium sector. The German brand’s Cayenne SUV, launched to controversy in 2002, has since massively outsold all of Porsche’s familiar 911-based sports cars.