I drove the Bentayga in the UAE when Bentley launched the falconry special edition. The trouble with the Middle East is that nothing seems too expensive or vulgar.
But driving one around the countryside of England, I wondered how the great and good of the Cotswolds would react to such a statement of ridiculous wealth.
Well, perhaps because the Bentayga has such ‘dubious’ styling and is a tad understated for some, nobody seemed to bat an eyelid.
I mean, this car is twice the price of a Range Rover!
Perhaps if they sat inside the wonderfully silent cabin, sunk their feet into the sumptuous deep-pile carpet and ogled at the amount of wood and chrome on display, they might see things differently.
The fastest, most powerful SUV money can buy is a remarkable first step into the ‘utility’ market for Bentley.
Both petrol and diesel engines haul 2.4 tons of metal to amazing speeds without the minimum of fuss.
Oddly though, even with a raft of extras that would buy you Porsche Cayenne for the same money, the Bentley leaves me unmoved.
It is a wonderful way to travel in pure luxury but unlike some other Bentleys I could mention, it’s more of a brilliant tool than a soul machine.
Something of a mad rush today as I’ve been interviewing Olympic rower Kathryn Grainger for Country Life magazine. The Bentley cause ripples on the water when I turned up at the National Rowing Centre in Caversham, for some reason…
Instead of some opening words on the Flying Spur., you might be interested in some of the option prices that took our test Bentley from a list of £153,300 to an incredible £191,191!
Boot carpet – £420
Contrasting stitch in Imperial Blue – £1,485
Comfort specification – £1,885
Full length centre console – £3,025
Dark Stained burr walnut – £1,375
Refrigerated bottle cooler – £1,665
Vehicle tracking system – £1,400
Rear entertainment – £5,835
Wi-fi hotspot – £5,695
Space saving spare wheel – £4,335
Erm, £4,335 for a spare wheel? Surely if you own a Bentley a nice chap from the AA comes and sorts a flat out for free…?
Beautiful cars are few and far between these days. Take BMW. Brilliant vehicles on nearly every level but I’m not sure even the M5 of M6 truly take my breath away. I’m prepared to haggle over the Z4.
The latest Audi TT looks dull, the current Porsche 911 isn’t as mouthwatering as the previous 997 and Ford has cunningly borrowed the nose off an Aston Martin in an attempt to make the Mondeo interesting. Fat chance.
And so we arrive at the Nissan X-Trail. Yes, it does look like a BMW X3 from some angles and the funky rust colour of our test car is better in the metal than it looks in our photos. But will you really get a buzz seeing it parked on your driveway every morning?
Somehow I doubt it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but surely there’s a car designer out there somewhere (please God!) who can make an SUV look appealing? Having seen the new Bentley Bentayga, perhaps not…
Four days in to the Bentley and I’m starting to appreciate a whopping engine and tons of road presence. That’s about 2.3 tons – but enough grunt from that huge engine to scare the pats off passengers.
It’s surprisingly agile despite the weight and I guarantee your nerve will go before the Bentley squeaks. Driving a left hand-drive car on British roads can be interesting at times but in a Bentley, it’s sure to keep any driver on his toes.
Issues? Well, of course. There is no USB socket! Quite incredible when you consider the rest of the technology on board.
Plus the boot and fuel filler buttons on the driver’s door look just the same as the four window buttons. Consequently, you will open the boot at an inappropriate moment without warning.
The sat nav works fine but it feels and looks a little dated, while there’s a slight vibration from the dashboard when the car is engaged in ‘sport’ mode and the tailpipes really grumble.
Otherwise, this is one hell of a car! More tomorrow…
If you need to impress somebody at a petrolhead dinner party try this – I drive the fastest Bentley money can buy. Driving any Bentley would be cool enough but the 12-cylinder GT Speed is the big daddy.
There are a brace of twin-turbo V8s that skip along at a fair old lick and then a pair of 626bhp W12s in the regular GT and the Speed. The latter is baiting the neighbours outside my house as I scribble this.
Such a hefty lump will power the 2,400kg to 60mhp in 4 seconds. That’s like fitting a supercharger to an aircraft carrier.
And I don’t want to bang on about this too much but the GT is seriously big car. Our Candy Red test car is left hand drive for some reason – which makes it feel even bigger as I squeeze down a country lane.
Whether you think the Continental has become a little ‘footballer’s wives’ in recent years or got, it is one seriously pretty car.
More on Sunday when the WAG’s on board…
Road rage. What’s that all about? Well, if you want to wind up another car driver then sell the house and buy a Bentley Mulsanne my friend. After three days in the Lake District, I’m mighty relieved to be back in the Deep South. That’s the Cotswolds, if you’re not English.
It started with a van driver, who was determined not to let the ‘posh’ car past on a dual carriageway. He managed to drag his overtaking manoeuvre out for three miles then swerved violently sideways towards me as I wound the Mulsanne up to slip by.
Later that evening, a spotty oik in a Peugeot 206 decided he wanted to overtake the Bentley on a winding country lane, about the width of, well, a Bentley Mulsanne. What followed was a cat an mouse game of madness. Yes, I should have stopped and let him past but I was moving at a swift pace and there seemed no logic in his actions.
Finally, last night a Mini lodged so close on the back bumper I was afraid to brake. If I had, he/she would have discovered the penalty for tailgating a Mulsanne is probably £30k+.
At least I discovered what those automatic rear curtains are for – blocking out the following headlights of lunatics… And that the Mulsanne isn’t meant for Beatrix Potter-style lanes in the Lakes…
There’s one very unwelcome element to driving any Bentley – the unwanted attention of ‘angry’ drivers. You know the sort – people who pull out in front of you on a dual carriageway and then deliberately slow down as they overtake.
It seems to be a weird national sport in the UK, especially among white van drivers who are upset at the fact you just happen to be in an expensive car and therefore, by their screwy reasoning, must be a posh git.
It happened yesterday as I drove up to the Lake District (averaging a quite remarkably 23.3mpg!). Not even a flash from those big plate headlights would make the plonker move over.
I suppose the joke’s on him ultimately because I couldn’t even afford a set of tyres for the Mulsanne.
Never judge a man by the wheels he is driving…
You could argue the Mulsanne isn’t a pretty car from the front. The bug-eyed headlights somehow don’t marry with the macho grille and totally dominate the car’s appearance.
Car headlights simple don’t need to be that large any more – because they actually work these days! Just look at the slit-eyed beamers on the brilliant new Audi TT. I’m sure other designers will soon follow suite.
I’m not sure I’ve seen headlights as big as those on the Mulsanne since, well, those old Bentley blowers of the 1920s and 1930s. And why were they so big? Simply because lights were rubbish back then.
The outer daytime runnings lights on the Mulsanne are ringed in bling LEDs – they’re a bit smaller and probably about the same size in area as the TT. So why do we need the two, dinner plate headlights inbetween?
Those headlights spoil an otherwise beautiful car…
Is that right – £5,100 for a set of black curtains in a Bentley Mulsanne? There’s something rather funereal about the gentle glide of the electric motor that draws them together and cocoons the back seat in darkness.
And just what are they for? I suppose that if you are an Arab sheikh, who doesn’t want to wear sunglasses to avoid publicity, they could be quite useful. Or maybe they’re so the chauffeur can have a kip in the back while waiting for his passenger…
Personally, I think heavy tint glass might be more effective, and cheaper. Although that could be deemed rather uncool these days, as even Ford and Skoda owners can black out their windows for maximum bling appeal.
Still, there’s no finer place to be than in the back seat of a Mulsanne. It’s like flying first class, with deep pile Wilton overmats (an extra £1,060) and the Entertainment Pack (£21,145).
What’s that? Well, it turns the Bentley into a Wi-fi hotspot and adds picnic tables – crafted from solid metal, fine veneer and leather – that are designed to accommodate an iPad and wireless keyboard.
Add twin eight-inch LCD screens incorporated into the backs of the front headrests, a 20 GB hard drive and DVD player, plus a pair of Bluetooth headphones and a remote control, and you can see why this is the only way to fly…
Bizarre as it might seem, piloting a 6.75-litre V8 happens to be the best way to avoid a speeding ticket. The Mulsanne’s 505bhp unit would rip the metalwork off a lesser car but because the Bentley weighs 3200kg, it’s just about the right power to weight ratio.
In fact, being whisper quiet and smoother than a vat of butter, the Bentley doesn’t feel like it’s travelling until you hit 70mph. So for the last two days I’ve been cruising around at very sensible speeds, soaking up the leather and ash interior in my own private gentlemen’s club.
It’s such a big lump of motor car that I don’t feel any inclination to push the Mulsanne on winding English roads at all. What this Bentley needs is a German autobahn for a trans-Europe journey of epic proportions.
What’s most fascinating is the way other drivers react – this isn’t a car for shrinking violets. Don’t expect to be let out at a junction either. You’re more likely to get a friendly wave driving a Russian tank…