Bentley Bentayga – Reaching a crescendo

Ian Lamming bonds with Bentley’s new Bentayga.

It’s another seminal moment, but then motoring provides more than its fair share of those.

All day the weather has been drab, grey, with low cloud on the tops and headache inducing barometric pressure.

Then, as I venture out for a last drive in the Bentley, the sun breaks through lighting up Lakeland peaks, blue skies joining in the display soon after.

Tourists are tucked up safely in the bar or the day trippers have left for home and the roads are blissfully quiet.

It’s time to test the new Bentley V8, but not as you might expect. This Bentayga comes with some opulent extras, one of which is the ‘Naim for Bentley’ premium audio system. So it’s a case of Bluetooth the phone, call up Spotify and choose a James Bond movie theme, in this instance Sam Smith’s Writing’s on the Wall, crank up the volume and enjoy the ride. Ah, now this is the life.

Glorious country lanes give way to lake views as Windermere opens up, Langdales on the horizon, to fill the windscreen with its panoramic splendour. And for the duration of the song I’m 007 en route to the casino in best of British secret service style. Could I be more content? Could I be more attractive – if only in my mind’s eye.

Bentayga is new and I love it, especially when what is a pretty special car comes with an additional almost £50,000 worth of goodies.

Like a fine wine or a mature cheese, I’m not sure my palate, or in this case hearing, is sophisticated enough to do justice to the £6,600 Naim hi-fi. That said it sounds magnificent to me and is the perfect companion to the rest of the Bentley’s stupendous interior.

Also on the options list is the Mulliner driving specification at a cool £12,335.00. I can’t imagine for a moment that the standard Bentayga is shabby but the Mulliner treatment is stunning.

Two-tone cabin in diamond-cut quilted Portland and Brunel blue and cream leather are joined by dark fiddleback eucalyptus veneer with contrasting stitching and emblems. It’s a veritable Buckingham Palace of interiors which melds traditional with modern. So there’s those wonderful plungers for the air vents but the latest hi-tech infotainment too.

All the seats are heated and cooled with electric adjustment and even massage functions. Rear seat passengers also get their fizz cooler with the lid of the central armrest raising to reveal lovely tactile crystal champagne flutes with stems but no bases so they can slot into handily placed holes. What a delightful touch.

If you are feeling flush but a little dark then you can replace all the chrome with Blackline black gloss ware – yours for £5,380. Mind you it does look mean and moody, sets off the lustrous Portofino blue livery and black machined five spoke 21in alloy wheels. It’s a must then.

So to remind you, the Bentayga is Bentley’s SUV, a go-anywhere in luxury 4×4, with gargantuan proportions. In my drive it looks huge but on the narrow roads of Cumbria it is surprisingly easy to manage and, anyway, it’s a Bentley so most people are happy to give way when the lanes narrow to single track. ‘Parp, parp, out of my way road hogs,’ as Toad of Toad Hall would say.

The new look is better proportioned and makes it look more road hugging. The bonnet sweeps down to LED matrix headlamps featuring a crystal cut design. Then there’s the huge grille, sculpted front bumper, large wing vents and sleek sills. At the back there are new jewelled 3D tail-lamps set in a much cleaner tailgate.

The aurally amazing twin-turbo V8 offers smooth and lusty performance – 550PS with outrageous torque – catapulting a sizeable car to a top speed of 180mph, if the law would allow, and offering a benchmark 60mph of a very brief 4.4 seconds. It is tall with the associated high centre of gravity but goes round bends surprisingly well and a lot better than an inquisitive and impertinent Range Rover that attempted to challenge its might. But hustling is not really what this car is about, particularly on a glorious evening in the Lake District. When the wallop isn’t needed the V8 is happy to shut down half the cylinders to save fuel. I saw 25mpg on the trip computer which is pretty good given the performance.

You may never feel like heading off road but if you do the all-terrain specification adds four additional drive modes to the four standard on-road settings. These can be used in more common situations such as snow, wet grass, dirt, gravel, mud, rocky trails and sand.

Generally, at the end of my time with a test car I’m seldom sorry to see it go but in the spectral words of Bond theme tune singing Sam Smith: ‘I’ve spent a lifetime running.

And I always get away. But with you I’m feeling something. That makes me want to stay…For you I have to risk it all. Cause the writing’s on the wall.” Thank you for this moment Bentley, it’ll be in the book.

Fact File

Bentley Bentayga V8

Engine: 4.0 litre V8

Power: 550PS

0-62mph:  4.4 secs

Top speed: 180mph

Combined MPG: 23.5

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

CO2 g/km: 272

Price: from £149,600.00 (£192,795.00 including options)