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Bentley goes red, white and blue: test driving the new Bentley Bentayga Diesel

Bentley goes red, white and blue: test driving the new Bentley Bentayga Diesel

The extended range of Bentley‘s luxury SUV has arrived in Australia. James Nicholls experiences the new additions on the Bentley Bentayga Diesel Adventure Drive.

When the most sought-after luxury car brand in the world, Bentley, launched its first SUV, the Bentayga, there was much comment and even, truth be told, some polarisation of opinion, with even its name causing consternation among some. The Bentayga, named after a craggy mountain in the Canary Islands, however, has quickly established itself as a benchmark automobile to the extent that Bentley has extended the model range.

Bentley Bentayga Diesel

The first-ever diesel-powered Bentley

Alongside its W12-powered stable mate, the Crewe manufacturer is now offering the Bentayga Diesel, which, since its UK launch in September 2016, has now arrived in Australia. This is exciting news, not only because of the intrinsic virtues of the vehicle itself, but also because this is the first diesel-powered Bentley ever. And true to Bentley’s racing roots dating back to Le Mans in the early 1920s, it is the world’s fastest diesel SUV capable of reaching 100km/h in 4.8 seconds from a standing start, and a top speed of 270km/h. The new 4.0-litre V8 engine with eight-speed ZF automatic transmission has class-leading torque while the variable-geometry, sequential twin-scroll turbochargers coupled with a third electric supercharger limit turbo lag to 30 microseconds. In layman’s terms this means it accelerates and changes gear without you noticing.

New clean technology provides the Bentayga Diesel the lowest CO2 emissions of any Bentley and a range of over 1000 kilometres, allowing one to, say, drive from Sydney to the snow in Thredbo and back on one tank of juice, or from Adelaide to Uluru with just one stop and then half a tank left for the return journey. Inside the cabin, of course the Bentayga Diesel retains the handcrafted luxury for which Bentley is renowned.

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Test driving the Bentayga Diesel

That all sounds very good on paper and the four vehicles we took on the Bentley Bentayga Diesel Adventure Drive did not disappoint. The programme began with a welcome breakfast showcasing the integrated Mulliner Hamper Set, complete with refrigerator, bespoke fine Linley china, cutlery, crockery and crystal glass, and with sections of the hamper that can be removed and used as seats so that one does not have to slum it in the great outdoors! Then it was on the road to the Hunter Valley and luncheon at Hope Estate, followed by a helicopter ride to reconnoitre the terrain for the next day’s off-roading, before checking into Tower Lodge, one of Australia’s most exclusive accommodations. In preparation for our exertions to come the following day, that evening we were treated to a degustation dinner by chef, Mert Tansu, and sampled matching wines from the cellar of Michael Hopes, owner of Tower Estate.

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Off-roading in the Hunter Valley

The next morning it was time to put the Bentayga to the real test. On the drive to the Hunter – in the city, on the motorway and the side roads – it had acquitted itself with luxury aplomb, as expected of any car carrying the ‘Flying B’ badge of the Bentley marque, but what would it be like on the rough stuff? Exploring the mud, puddles and gradients of country New South Wales was not an obstacle. Hardly surprising as the development schedule for the Bentayga, ranging across the five continents, has been the most comprehensive in the company’s history. From the muddy fields of Cheshire to the dirt and gravel of South Africa and the sand dunes of Dubai, from minus-30 degrees Celsius in the frozen North Cape to searing 50-degree desert heat, the Bentayga’s ability to perform on any surface and in the most extreme conditions has already been proven.

It was extreme fun exploring not only the countryside, but also the range of skills offered by the Bentayga Diesel such as the Hill Descent Control which automatically regulates the vehicle’s speed on steep declines, allowing one to concentrate fully on obstacles ahead and determining the best path. Indeed, it offers a wide range of on- and off-road settings, allowing drivers a selection of eight modes appropriate for any road surface or condition, at the simple turn of a dial.

The number of options that are available is exhaustive and far too numerous to mention, but examples such as Park Assist, Electronic Night Vision (using infra-red technology to identify obstacles ahead), and a Naim audio system with a network of 18 speakers and super-tweeters means that pretty much every Bentayga will be different from another, though one feature common to the Diesel is the black matrix grille.

Having proved itself adept in all conditions the Bentayga Diesel carried us home in cosseting motoring luxury.