If you’re a British nonagenarian head of state and you want to let your 94-year-old husband drive the leader of the free world and his wife around, really you’ve only got one choice of transport. At least, until now you’ve only had one choice. You did it in a Range Rover.
And if you’re going to do it in any Range Rover, might I recommend one of these newfangled SVAutobiography models? It’s the slightly awkwardly named recognition that people with an unmentionable amount of money don’t always want to be seen in a supercar or what might be mistaken for an airport limousine. They might be prepared to spend an incredible amount on a 4x4.
This seems blindingly obvious now, but until recently, it’s as if there has been a cap on the money an SUV can ask. But like Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile, once somebody does it, everyone realises they can. Hence the Bentley Bentayga, which had been a quietly mooted, should-we-shouldn’t-we project at Bentley Motors until Wolfgang Dürheimer arrived as Bentley’s gaffer (the first time) in 2011 and just told them to get on with it. He’d seen what the Cayenne had done for Porsche.
The following year, we all took a deep breath and a step backwards when he pulled the covers off the EXP 9 F concept at the Geneva motor show; even Dürheimer talking to a bloke with a falcon on his arm couldn’t quite distract from its face.
Today? Well, the EXP 9 F has morphed into something slightly less noticeable, but it’s still unmistakably a Bentley. With that nose, it couldn’t be anything else. I don’t know whether an SUV is just a more natural fit with Bentley than it was Porsche, or whether we’re just more accustomed to the existence of 4x4s, but here it is. But being a Bentley brings with it some broad demands.