The Bentayga’s adaptive air suspension and active anti-roll control systems combine to give it a pleasing aloofness from low-frequency lumps and bumps and a resistance to the kinds of exaggerated body movements that you might expect of a car so high, so heavy and so comfort orientated.
Once again, it’s the relaxing refinement and reserve of the car – the imperviousness to most of what passes underneath its axles and the slick, medium-light consistency of the steering weight – that really strike you as special.
This plainly isn’t a car that imagines you are interested in a sense of connection with the road surface or with the contact patches of the tyres, and it isn’t out to do anything as imposing as engaging you with the act of driving too much.
It’s Bentley’s familiar dynamic compromise, largely unaffected by the transition onto an SUV.
You select from myriad driving modes using a rotary controller on the transmission tunnel, some intended to configure the car for surfaces such as snow, sand and wet grass and others for day-to-day road driving.
Where the everyday road use is concerned, the car has Comfort, Sport and Custom modes, as well as a Bentley mode, which sets it all up as the engineers would recommend.
And although we heartily approve of the idea of the Bentley mode (which saves you from swapping and changing between modes, never sure if the car is ideally configured), there is just the merest edge to the car’s ride control over camber changes and sharp ridges when you select it, as well as a little more head toss in the cabin than well-heeled passengers might like.
Select Comfort mode instead and the various little vertical accelerations of the ride itself decrease, but at the expense of more high-speed body control than we’d willingly surrender. So Custom mode is the one we’d probably end up using.
A hard-driving style isn’t something the laid-back character of the car seems to encourage, but when you experiment with Sport mode, you find the car’s bodycontrol is remarkably flat and upright and its handling response excellent – up to a point.
Go beyond about eight and a half tenths of effort on a winding road, charging hard at corners, and the security of the car’s grip level can drop away quite suddenly, led by the front axle.
It’s the price of cheating physics with that active anti-roll system and shunning so many opportunities to filter control feedback into the mix – but it doesn’t detract much from the dynamic appeal of the car.
The Bentayga’s torque-laden engine always comes up with a healthy turn of speed when you ask for it, even when hauling this two-and-a-half-tonne car up a steep incline — and the car’s suspension is ready to juggle that mass through a tight turn more quickly than you’d believe possible at first.
The monotone weight of the steering doesn’t communicate grip levels well, though. What’s more, the guessing game you engage in as you approach the edge of that grip level is made all the more difficult by an active anti-roll control system that works the outside front tyre very hard indeed and pushes it quite suddenly into understeer when the time comes.
The torque vectoring and stability control systems react quickly and subtly when it happens and at once prevent the car from straying too far off line and keep it stable.
But outright cornering balance in extremis, and cornering speed, is better in other large performance SUVs we’ve tested of late.