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Bentley Bentayga: Beyond Comfort
Showing a Bentayga a good time in the middle of pouring rain was on the to-do list.
You know one of those mornings when you wake up and look out of your window to see a magical landscape perched on a hill, surrounded by a big, big lake with sunlight putting on a bit of a show in between the clouds. The kind where you can smell the wet earth in the air as a steady drizzle cloaks a hill in the distance.
Well, that is what I am looking out to, except it is from a seat done in soft quilted leather with music wafting through the cabin from an incredible set of Naim speakers while I stare out of the window of a Bentley. And, I got there after a couple of hours of sampling a fine 6-litre, W12 motor with 600 horsepower at the command of my right foot. Yes, that’s right, I just blew your morning out of the water. Quite literally.
But then, I couldn’t just sit there and admire the view all day. There was some driving to be done and I had tall plans of showing the Bentley a bit of muck to try and unsettle it from its aristocratic demeanour. That was the plan till I saw a little thorny bush and decided to go around it instead of stamping it down. Yes, pat on my back green-peace.
However, in my noble attempt to do so I landed on a slight incline covered by a patch of fresh grass sitting on soil so fine that it calls for a special kind of misery when you try to get a move on. Having begun with the grass/ gravel function to try and sort things out, I soon realised that there was no grass or gravel left under the tyres.
There was, rather, a ditch with three feet of earth ploughed on either side of the 21-inch wheels with mud that had smoothened out every groove on the road tyres that the Bentayga had come with.
Even with the car raised to full off-road height, the door sills were at level with the earth that was consuming it.
The steps were smart enough to know there was trouble and not extend to help me get off the car. Time for me to get down on my haunches along with the rest of the TG crew and a couple of fishermen who happened to step out for a stroll.
Clearing out muck, filling up the ploughed field with rocks and shifting the four-wheel drive mode to mud, with stability control turned off, I went for it one more time. I somehow had expected the Bentayga to magically rise up and smoothly roll out.
It possibly could have if I had an armed escort car with half a dozen bodyguards close at hand to lift the car and carry it out, but that wasn’t to be. Instead, we laboured painfully inch by inch while I sprayed generous amounts of muck on everyone around before finishing in a final hurrah and a very sideways exit from the mud bath.
Efficiency had dropped to roughly three kilometres to every litre of petrol consumed from a frugal five and there was mud splatter everywhere, including a few dribbles on the leather wrapped window sills with wood veneers, which presumably gives the Bentley a more classic quality of posh-ness. I cringed every time I left a streak of mud from my grubby fingers on this exquisite interior, but the Bentayga was far from done. A sprinkling of rain and a little wipe took care of most blemishes and the winged B was ready for another bout.
Encouraged, I showed it some more trails, the kind no Bentley will ever see in its lifetime. With a couple of deep water crossings and some more grassy knolls for company this was perfect to try and see if the Bentayga flinched.
Having satisfied myself with the working of the four-wheel drive system off-road and wishing for heavier mud terrain tyres (again something your entourage of bodyguards could’ve sorted out), I departed. With a pressurised jet of water dislodging chunks of mud off my shoes and the Bentley, we emerged squeaky clean and ready for some more driving.While this is the first SUV that has rolled off the Bentley production lines, apart from a snide comment from Ettore Bugatti calling it the world’s fastest truck back in 1927 as it blitzed Le Mans, it is also happens to be the world’s fastest SUV, or so they claim. Not entirely surprising, given the fact that it makes 600 horspowers and 900Nm of twist which combines with an eight-speed gearbox to push this two-and-half tonne car along.
It reportedly notches up triple digit speeds in 4.1seconds and is capable of bettering 300kph. That is impressive even by fast-car standards.
On the expressway, it felt every bit as fast as the numbers suggested with triple digit cruising speeds coming up in quick time. Throw it into a corner and the Bentayga manages to remain surprisingly flat while the four-wheel drive works hard to manage traction at all four corners.
The steering responses are never really electric, even with ‘sport’ mode engaged, but pointing it in the correct direction is never a problem. Ride remains fairly composed too, in typical Bentley manner with no unnecessary bits filtering through from the road surface.
Around town, however, with the drive mode set to ‘comfort’ the Bentayga provides a special sort of ride quality.
Slightly rounded bumps and crests are dealt with in a peculiar sort of floating manner which cocoons you in a way that only a box of Nutella could (again something that an entourage can make possible). But, try and get around straight edged potholes and the massive 21-inch wheels suddenly make themselves known as they create a bit of thud going past.
It is the only bit that makes it appear slightly unbecoming of a Bentley, but then our monsoon ridden roads are slightly unbecoming of civilised world too.
As I parked the Bentayga one final time, back in a workshop surrounded by more Bentleys, I realised that as much as I had imagined it being completely unnerved by the stuff I threw at it, the Betayga never really felt flustered or out of place. It didn’t flinch even when it was parked in mud till its door sills. The only one out of their comfort zone was me, trying to not to get a drop of muck on its pristine interiors.
It went about getting itself out, inch-by-inch, pulling slides and getting sideways, all the while maintaining its stately manner with some exquisite sound for company. It is a bit special, no doubt about it. The attention to detail and the list of possible customisations can imply that you will own a one-of-its-kind car.
I mean, just play with the colours and don’t opt for the 150,000 dollar Breitling, because that would just be too obvious. Squeeze in the other bits for the five crores that Bentley will ask of you and use that six-litre W12 motor well. It will not only give you utmost satisfaction, but it will do so in rather sterling fashion.