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plenty of precision-cut burr walnut and cool metal elements. If the standard clock above the centre console isn’t enough for you, a bespoke mechanical Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling clock can also be specified. At £150,000 (CHF 195,500), it has to be the most expensive optional extra ever.

“Inside it’s oozing with Bentley DNA. Beautifully finished and sumptuous” The trademark Bentley knurling on the drive mode selector and gear knob is complemented by air vents that are controlled by highly-polished chrome organ pulls. Up above, the Bentayga comes with a panoramic glass roof, making up almost 60% of the total roof surface. The front seats deserve a special mention. Individually handcrafted at Bentley’s HQ in Crewe, north-west England, they feature 22-way adjustment, a six-programme massage system, heating and ventilation. The rear seats might not have quite as many toys, but the space available puts many a limousine to shame. As you’d expect, the Bentayga is also packed with tech. There’s an 8” touchscreen infotainment system, a 30-language sat nav, and a choice of between three different sound systems. The Naim for Bentley Premium Audio is the most powerful, boasting 1,950 watts and a network of 18 speakers and super-tweeters. Driver aids include Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist (autonomous parking), Rear Crossing Traffic Warning (radar detects crossing traffic when reversing out of a parking space) and Top View (which uses four cameras to display a bird’s eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings).

However, all that opulence and technology comes at a price. The Bentayga will set you back £160,200 (CHF 209,000), and by the time you’ve added a few items from the options list, it’s likely to end up closer to £200,000 (CHF 261,000). My test car is a case in point. It cost £193,135 (CHF 252,000 Swiss Francs) with extras. If money is no object, then the Bentayga makes absolute sense, especially if you encounter weather extremes or there’s just a chance that you may need to call upon the car’s four-wheel drive. I drove the Bentayga over a variety of roads and it’s seriously impressive. Once you’ve adjusted to its sheer size, the luxury, comfort, commanding driving position and sheer power of the engine is intoxicating. There are four on-road modes (Sport, Comfort, ‘Bentley’ and Custom), plus four all terrain modes (Snow & Grass, Dirt & Gravel, Mud & Trail, Sand Dunes), but frankly, default ‘Bentley’ is enough. The acceleration would do a supercar justice. In a car of this size, it’s simply astonishing – and, of course, it’s whisper quiet while cruising too. Thanks to Bentley’s brilliant electronic Dynamic Ride system, the Bentayga delivers a superb blend of handling and ride quality. As you’d expect there’s a little body roll in corners, but it is very well controlled. It’s almost churlish to mention economy, given that the price of petrol (super unleaded no less) is not a major consideration if you’re in the market for a car in this league, but for the record, it’s capable of 21.6mpg (13.1 litres/100 km) and emits 296g/km of CO2. More economical diesel and plug-in hybrid versions are also believed to be in development, as is a seven-seater. Verdict: The Bentley Bentayga is an SUV with unbeatable badge appeal and road presence. Powerful, practical, comfortable and luxurious, it’s also a surprisingly serious driver’s car. Review by Gareth Herincx



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