As if die-hard Bentley traditionalists didn’t have enough to contend with when the revered luxury manufacturer introduced an SUV to its line-up, they’ve now got to get their heads around the company’s first-ever diesel too.
While the newcomer has 30% less power than the 6.0-litre W12, the mighty 664lb ft of torque stays the same – and it now comes in at even lower revs, at 1000rpm. The engine is teamed up with the same eight-speed auto as in the W12 to get all four wheels of the 2.4-tonne Bentayga moving. There’s a Torsen centre diff and an open rear diff, plus electronic torque vectoring to help with the cornering, too.
Thanks to copious use of sound-deadening and intelligent engine mounts, no such thing as diesel clatter reaches the sumptuous cabin. The high-mounted driving position is therefore suitably cocooned, providing that perfect blend of comfort and command. The Bentayga’s focus on driving is reflected in the relative lack of electronic clutter; the 8in touchscreen and high-quality infotainment are executed with minimal fuss and maximum class. It’s all presented in an exquisite package of wood, knurled metal and leather-trimmed luxury.
On the road, pretty much the only reminder that you’re in a diesel comes from the SUV’s exceptionally hard pull. This is exemplified by a 40mph-100mph acceleration time in sixth gear that’s 1.4sec faster than in the 600bhp W12 – and 4sec quicker than in the Range Rover Sport SVR. Yes, those cars have higher top end, but such huge torque is tremendously relevant in real-world driving conditions.
Air suspension isolates the occupants from the road surface even more successfully than in the W12 petrol model, yet in a clever balancing act the slightly softer ride doesn’t detract from the skill with which the Bentley stays virtually flat and delivers huge grip and confidence in fast corners.
This all comes for around £25k less than the petrol W12, at a £135,800 starting price. Most owners will seriously enhance that figure with optional extras, though. Of headline importance is that the Bentayga Diesel retuned impressive real-world economy of 38.9mpg during our test, which officially equates to a 700-mile range and is claimed to save owners around 60% on the fuel bill, too. Low depreciation means you’ll recoup much of your initial outlay come resale time, too.
With no current direct rivals, the Bentayga Diesel is presently literally in a class of its own. And chances are, when the competition does catch up by launching their own luxury diesel SUVs, it’ll still hold that revered position. Bentley has achieved the seemingly impossible by improving upon the remarkable W12 by adding a diesel and making relatively small changes. The brand already claimed the Bentayga was “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world”. It’s now raised that boast ten fold.
Sarah Bradley is a writer for AutoCar.
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