Ian Lamming plugs into the most prestigious hybrid on the market, the Bentley Bentayga.
THE birds are tweeting as morning breaks and I walk to the car; there’s water too, a babbling brook in the hamlet proving to be medicine for the soul.
There’s no better sound; it’s been scientifically proved and if the pandemic has done nothing else it has reawakened an appreciation of nature.
Unlock the car with a gentle caress of the handle and slip inside. It’s time for an experiment. I drop the window down and press the starter button? The birds continue to tweet, the brook babble, both undisturbed by the Bentley. Engage drive and pull away, still nothing, just wildlife and water and the lightest crunch of tyres on gravel. This is modern motoring Bentley-style, at least it is if you opt for the Hybrid.
It’s only later that I realise that the 3.0 V6 petrol has actually kicked in too because that’s so quiet and smooth as well. Eight layers of noise insulation help enormously and driver and passengers are treated to one of the most serene motoring experiences there is.
The air of calmness spreads through every fibre of your body. It’s the perfect antidote to the current climate of angst, aggression and uncertainty. It makes you feel better, it makes you a better person – you should see how many people I let out of junctions or give way to on narrow roads. Nothing is too much trouble.
All the senses are cosseted not just your ears. Light floods in through expansive windows and a panoramic sunroof and it feels so good. It illuminates an interior second to none with beautiful, hand stitched trim on doors, dash and seats. Controls carry weight and ooze quality. They are chunky to grasp but oil-damped smooth in their operation. As I drive I just love to play with the retro chrome plungers which open and close the vents.
The smell of high grade leather pervades your nostrils and all surfaces are tactile and delightful. There’s even a gorgeous white faced Breitling clock.
Test car is blessed with the Mulliner treatment of even higher quality, embroidered, quilted, diamond stitched leather, complete with matching Alcantara cushions, deep pile over-mats, hide headlining, liquid amber veneered centre panel and a wonderful hand stitched leather steering wheel that is a joy to hold. It’s a 13k option but if you could you would.
In light Windsor blue and with 22in paragon concave machined alloy wheels the huge SUV commands attention and passers-by are drawn by its sheer presence in a way few vehicles can match. The gentle whoosh and near silent approach adds to its mystique and startles some as they pick it up in their peripheral vision.
If you had to sum the car up in one word it would be ‘class’ and yet with a price tag of just over £130,000 it is barely more than top end Range Rovers yet offers so much more in terms of exclusivity.
Underneath is a mass of technology that makes the Bentayga just as good to drive. Electric and petrol motors work independently and in harmony to provide almost 450PS of creamy smooth power. It’s not only a rapid car off the mark, especially for its size, but it is a prodigious mile-eater.
It will do 84mph in pure electric and can travel 24 miles on the battery alone. It also features clever technology including intelligent navigation that preserves battery charge for urban areas.
There is a ‘My Bentley app’ which can start the plug-in charging remotely and find charging stations near your destination, which you can then send directly to the navigation system.
The Bentley is big but it is incredibly manageable. Interior space is voluminous, especially in the rear, yet the driver manages the bulk with ease thanks to squarish proportions and beepers and cameras all round. It is so far from being unwieldy that even the narrowest lanes are tackled without stress.
Handling is also surprisingly sharp given the Bentayga’s girth. Steering is nicely weighted and very positive, body roll minimal and the ride is superb. It re-ignites the joy of motoring, driving for driving’s sake, like few others.
I was just so happy to bumbling through the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, unhurried, relaxed and stress free, with the birds and brooks for company, free to mend the soul.
Bentley Bentayga V6 Hybrid
Engine: 3.0 litre V6
0-62mph: 5.2 secs
Top speed: 158mph
Combined MPG: 26.6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 79
Price: from £133,100.00