Swaddled in the gratifying richness and comfort of the Bentley Bentayga’s cabin, why deciding to make this car must have been such a no-brainer for Bentley.
Look around the interior and practically everything you can see, hear, touch and interact with speaks of outstanding substance, technical sophistication, tactile allure and rare craftsmanship.
Look out of the double-glazed windows and the rest of the world is passing by below. You’re lifted out of the melee of everyday life much as you would be in any upmarket SUV.
The combined effect is supremely tranquil and utterly convincing. This easily feels like the most luxurious car the company currently makes.
The shape of the dashboard departs slightly from Bentley’s modern type by being asymmetrical. In place of the slush-moulded plastic roll-top you might find in a cheaper car, the Bentayga has a leather-bound piece of structural trim that sweeps in a winged shape from one door panel to the other – and in the Bentayga’s case, the driver’s side ‘wing’ rises higher than the passenger’s.
Underneath it is a conventional set of analogue instruments inset with a colour LCD display that can relay navigation guidance, infotainment selections, trip computer details and more.
Above it is a colour head-up display – if you ask for it as an option. And immediately adjacent and all around it is the many-layered, highly polished, book-matched burr veneer that Bentley does so warmly and so well. Our test car’s was ‘dark fiddleback eucalyptus’, but if your pockets are deep enough, you can have trim made from Californian giant redwood or even stone.
As well as making its own veneers, of course, Crewe manufactures its own seats as part of its mission to create unparalleled luxury in its cars – and the Bentayga’s are supremely comfortable. As standard, the car comes with a split-folding three-seat rear bench. As an option, it can be a strict four-seater, with a raised transmission tunnel console and electrically reclining massager chairs in the rear.
Choose the four-seat layout and you gain a fixed-panel seal for the boot compartment and a slightly quieter cabin but lose the ability to fold down the back seats.
Space in the second row is perfectly generous even for bigger adults. It’s not quite in stretched limousine territory but sufficient that most will hardly notice.
The boot – at as little as 431 litres, depending on optional equipment – isn’t the kind that’ll swallow dog boxes and piles of luggage, although Bentley says it’ll be big enough to meet the demands of customers who don’t expect to use their cars like utility machines.
Bentley’s standard specification gives you an 8.0in colour touchscreen infotainment system with a 60GB hard drive on board, as well as integrated navigation, voice control with text to speech, wi-fi and plenty of other connectivity options.
It’s touchscreen only, though. Unlike in other Volkswagen Group vehicles, there’s no tactile input device, such as a rotary controller, to make inputs easier on the move, and that’sa bit of a miss, in our book.
The firm’s Naim for Bentley premium audio system costs almost as much as a car in its own right (£6300) and many would say it needs to sound incredible at that money.
But Bentley buyers are unlikely to be mean about cost options, and here they get an absolutely unreal hi-fi system with almost 2000 watts of amplifier power, bass speakers mounted in the seats immediately under your backside and nothing short of breathtaking reproduction quality.