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2018-08-30 09:03

Lance Branquinho

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

People who wear British racing green jackets and tweed hats might see the Bentayga SUV as an affront to all things inherently Bentley but there is little arguing against its customer acceptance, especially in South Africa.

In 2018, the vehicle Bentley could never have imagined it would ever market has transformed its South African business. 

For those who could see beyond the bias against this towbar-enabled Bentley, its suitability to local conditions was obvious.

The best traditions

Bentayga has been an unprecedented solution for those who desire the luxury and performance typical of a Bentley but wish to explore more routes and destinations than those which can be journeyed exclusively on tar.

READ: Here's why the Bentley Bentayga 4.0-litre V8 Diesel is a palace on wheels: We drive the most expensive SUV in SA

Just how successful has it been thus far in 2018? Well, the automaker has sold 33 Bentaygas year-to-date and the full portfolio is only now coming into completion with the introduction of a V8 petrol model to complement the range-topping W12 and turbodiesel V8.

A discretionary purchase

Bentayga’s popularity becomes startlingly obvious when you table its sales next to those of other Bentleys. In 2018 only a single Mulsanne has been homed in South Africa, whilst two local enthusiasts have taken ownership of Flying Spurs and a total of 11 Continentals have been sold.

Bentley will always remain one of the most discretionary automotive purchases that can be made, they are handbuilt vehicles with a broad range of customisation available and volumes are low.

Despite this, the demand for Bentayga has been unprecedented. The Bentley that staid traditionalists argue isn’t an authentic representation of the brand now accounts for 70% of its local sales.

                                                             

What Bentayga’s anchor position in the South African Bentley product portfolio illustrates, is that customers in markets where geographies are more diverse than those Britain and Europe, finally have the option of experience Bentley values in an appropriate package.

The mere thought of driving on gravel is unconscionable in a Continental, much less a Flying Spur and borderline automotive criminality in a Mulsanne.

Yet there are wealthy enthusiasts, who want to own a Bentley and are drawn to its heritage of handbuilt craftsmanship, but also wish to be unlimited in their self-drive travel itineraries.

If they want to take a Karoo gravel road detour when driving from Gauteng to Cape Town, Bentayga enables that with its generous ground clearance and sophisticated air-suspension.

If they wish to be adventurous and drive up a snowed-in Sani pass for the ultimate location selfie after a cold front sweeps the southern half of the country, then Bentayga enables that – in premium a British hand-stitched luxury cabin.

In a market with a diversity of terrain and populated with enthusiasts keen on exploring, Bentayga has been the Bentley worth waiting for. Considering the success of Range Rover in South Africa, Bentayga’s popularity has not surprised seasoned industry observers.

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