Bentley already has deposit-paid orders for the first full year of Bentayga SUV production, meaning any customers ordering today are unlikely to take delivery before 2017.
The definitive production version of the market-topping SUV has been revealed at the Frankfurt motor show. Sources have told Autocar that the Crewe-based company can produce between 3000-4500 Bentaygas per year, suggesting a healthy customer response to its most controversial new model.
Bentley describes its £160,200 model as “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world”. It also has “the world’s finest automotive cabin” that offers “unparalleled luxury” in its sector, according to Bentley.
It’s all part of Crewe’s strategy to maximise the short lead it is about to open up over other budding premium SUV makers, notably Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini. But up to half a dozen expensive car brands are rushing to create new SUVs for the niche they believe is opening above the most expensive Range Rover.
Bentayga prices will start around £30,000 above the top Range Rover and are likely to be driven much higher by the bespoke equipment.
Despite its size and high price, the Bentayga is not being positioned as Bentley’s flagship: that role will continue to be played by the £225,000 Mulsanne limo. Bentley wants to emphasise the practicality, strength and durability of its new SUV, as well as the luxury.
“Owners may never drive these vehicles off road,” said engineering director Rolf Frech, “but they must know it will perform in tough conditions.”
Frech devised a million-mile test regime, the toughest yet for a Bentley, taking prototypes to five continents in the most difficult conditions “to ensure unwavering performance”.
Body and chassis
The car’s original shape was heavily revised after a different concept, shown at the 2012 Geneva show, failed to win the approval of show-goers and management at the Volkswagen Group, of which Bentley is a part.
Today’s Bentayga is lower and more ‘Bentley-like’ but is still 5.14 metres long, with a wheelbase of nearly three metres. It is slightly longer than a long-wheelbase Range Rover, but the roof is about 60mm lower - a move, designers say, that helps maintain the Bentley sporting character. The styling comparison they prefer is with the sleek Porsche Cayenne rather than the tall Range Rover.
The Bentayga uses an iteration of the VW Group’s new MLB-Evo platform for large vehicles that has already been used for Audi’s new Q7 and is coming soon in an all-new Cayenne.
Construction is described as aluminium-intensive (the Bentayga’s bodyside is the industry’s largest single aluminium pressing), but materials are a mix of aluminium, steel and composites, according to function.
The Bentayga has an all-new computer-controlled air spring system whose ride height, damping, roll control, stability, hill descent and traction are all controlled by the driver from a console-mounted rotary control. There are four selectable on-road modes and four for off-road driving.
One innovative feature is a quick-acting, 48V anti-roll system that can rapidly vary the car’s body roll control, front and rear, according to conditions. It provides both stability in hard cornering and a relaxed ride on the motorway.
The Bentayga is the first Bentley to take towing seriously. A trailer assist feature allows a driver to select a desired articulation angle between car and trailer and maintain it when reversing. A stability system applies the brakes selectively if the trailer starts to sway dangerously on the move, also cutting engine torque if necessary.