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

2018-07-10 05:30

Janine Van der Post

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

Bentley has unleashed its very first diesel offering in its history to the South African market in the form of the its Bentayga SUV.

The automaker claims that it's the most refined 8-cylinder diesel engine developed in the world. With a base price of R2 950 000, it's an assertion that can't be taken lightly. Throw in a few optional extras and you're close to yet another bar or two added to its cost.

At first glance, the Bentayga might come across as a vehicle for those with an acquired taste and reserved for rather affluent SA drivers. But it's only once you get behind the steering wheel and spend a few hours with this vehicle that you'll come to truly appreciate its worth and understand what makes it such a world-class product.

It's not the most striking vehicle at first glance either but then again, neither is Buckingham Palace until you actually take the time to walk its halls and appreciate its splendid grandeur. The more time you spend inside the vehicle, the more it grows on you and the more you realise why its price tag isn't as obscene at it might come across.

It's also in these instances when you realise just how important the colour of a vehicle can be. While the Moonbeam metallic (grey) can be a bit obtrusive, the version in Peacock metallic (blue) is a lot more appealing, but that's just in my opinion.

It's a stately car, so much so you feel the need to accentuate your accent and roll your Rs. It is a brand, after all, driven by the Queen. 

Bentley reckons that the diesel version "combines practicality, power and luxury with innovative technology delivering a sublime experience, making it an SUV for every kind of journey".

The W12 sibling has borrowed much of its same technology which makes it the most technically advanced engine in the world, to its diesel sibling.

One of the most astounding highlights of the most powerful and fastest diesel SUV in the world is how incredibly quiet the car is while idling or driving it. So quiet, that you are most likely to forget to turn off the vehicle before you step out of it. The 4.0-litre triple-charged, 32-valve, 8-cylinder engine delivers 320kW and 900Nm.

The thing about this car is that it doesn't really drive, it glides effortlessly while you steer the hand-stitched steering wheel. If you don't keep an eye on the speedometer, you could potentially get yourself into a whole lot of trouble with the law in an instant, it speeds up instantaneously but gracefully. 

Apparently, the car weighs about 2500kgs and even then there isn't an ounce of body-roll when your former Group-N race driver of a driving partner is throwing the mammoth vehicle around Franschhoek's corners. It's as nimble as a deer and floats like a butterfly, but drives like a beast. And overtaking? With 900Nm... it's child's play. 

While everything about the Bentayga exudes opulence, it's hardly condescending in any way. 

Design cues follow through from the W12 but the diesel version has a bold gloss black matrix grille, a centre bar and chrome surround. There are also two twin-quad tailpipes and a V8 diesel badge on the lower front door edge. If anything, I would redesign the shape of said tailpipes so that it would have a better flow in relation to the design, but I know much research has gone in the design and functionality of the exhaust system.

It's the finer things about this vehicle that makes it a palace on wheels, along with everything that goes with it. For instance, Bentley SA's CEO Toby Venter told Wheels24 that it takes nine hours just to hand stitch the leather steering wheel while the diamond-quilted seats take 27 hours each. 

The craftsman all have their own special way of doing things as one employee uses a sterling silver dinner fork to punch each hole in the material that needs to be stitched. In total, there are three kilometres of stitching throughout the vehicle. The Bentley emblems are embroidered while the sports B-design pedals are drilled. 

But it doesn't end there. 

And just as the Queen of England's car is custom-made, so you can kit out your palace. There is a full choice of 12 duo-tone hide combinations, carpets and interior colour combinations in the handcrafted interior, not to mention 100 Bentley body paint colours. The leather-trimmed cabin comes in a choice of five standard colours. 

The upper cabin is trimmed in Eliade, a tactile technical fabric. Other distinctive characteristics include the rear tail lights illuminating the Bentley B, as well as the side air outlets. The headlights too have the brand name displayed inside the cluster and a bold B on the top of the gear lever.


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