It’s not unreasonable to say that, were Bentley not part of the VW Group, this car wouldn’t exist.

Partly that’s because Bentley wouldn’t have had the money to do the job properly but also because, without VW, it wouldn’t have had access to the hardware.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
If any car is fit to be Bentley’s first diesel, this is it. And if any diesel is fit for a Bentley, it’s the electrically boosted one from the Audi SQ7

The Bentley shares its architecture with Audi’s Q7. Both are on the group’s MLB platform, as will be the next Porsche Cayenne.

Out of that, Bentley has crafted a car that looks very much like a Bentley. To our eyes, it’s not the most graceful car on the planet, but that trait never stopped the first-generation Cayenne from being a rip-roaring success.

The Bentley’s 2995mm wheelbase is just 1mm longer than the Q7’s but, that aside, it’s bigger than the Audi in every dimension, and every inch luxury car sized. It’s 5130mm long, 1998mm wide (a worrisome 2224mm wide with mirrors) and 1742mm tall.

Talk to Bentley’s engineers and they’ll agree with the supposition that the Bentayga is being asked to fulfil a broader remit than any other car in the world.

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It has to be a luxury car and a 4x4, doing what’s asked by owners in markets where you’ll find anything as diverse as sand dunes, rocky trails or wet, grassy slopes, yet it also has a 3.5-tonne towing limit.

And then there’s the bit Bugatti was talking about, of course: the bit that necessitates a 187mph top speed.

The engine, then, for now is a twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12, which makes 600bhp. It is, in effect, a new engine rather than just revised and can drop to six fuel-saving cylinders when necessary, driving through a four-wheel drive transmission that typically delivers a 40/60% front-to-rear power split.

There’s air suspension, too – but it’s the optional active anti-roll bars, which have been fitted to every Bentayga we’ve driven so far, that promise to unleash the most potential.

In straight-line driving or off road, these 48V resistive units are as slack as you’d hope, but if you’re asking more of the chassis on road, they stiffen to reduce roll and increase dynamism. By how much we’ll see in a moment.

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