En be or not? If many luxury or sports cars evolve in less careful countries, Europe, by restricting city centers to only so-called “clean” vehicles according to the criteria that it alone has established, watches over the health of its citizens. . A multi-cylinder – meaning anything with more than 4 pistons – is considered a rolling bomb, spreading its miasma through the population. The idea of crossing protected areas with electricity therefore germinated in the minds of the engineers and the most striking demonstration of its merits is provided on a heavy and powerful vehicle like the Bentayga.
In appearance, it is indeed a Bentley, with all the trappings and gleaming finishes that make it an exceptional vehicle. It is also an SUV that unbuttons the tight collar of Bentley limousines but does not free itself from a high weight linked as much to its formidable services as to its hybridization. Even if it is difficult to see the owner of this Bentayga forcing himself to recharge his vehicle every day, it must be said that by drawing on the bank of Audi and Porsche organs, the English car is doing so brilliant by escaping the passage from the vindictiveness of the taxman (no bonus or malus), which salutes, in its own way, this effort.
If, at its birth in 2015, the Bentayga straightened the mustaches of a few English lords, we must admit today that it has entered the landscape. Its restyling helps to gain acceptance for its massive lines and to make people forget its 2.65 t, or 250 kg more than a good 550 hp petrol V8. Behind the imposing mesh grille whispers a 340 hp Audi twin-turbo V6, the removal of two cylinders having made it possible to interpose an electric motor between the 8-speed automatic transmission and it. It provides an additional 128 hp useful in “sport” mode to achieve 5.5 s at 0 to 100 km/h or to play solo, for example in a low emission zone (ZFE).
Bentley did not seek electric range records, relying on the fact that customers rarely travel more than 40 km in this way. This is precisely the distance that was homologated in the fairly demanding WLTP urban cycle, but we did much better with a very smooth ride to reach 46 km before waking up the thermal.
At this stage, either we continue on the only resources of the V6, but with a power amputated by a good hundred horses, or we stop at a terminal. Reason commands recharging to benefit from intact resources, but it is not certain that the owner of the Bentayga is forced to do this daily. Except perhaps if it has a wallbox with cable, which avoids handling the cables of the vehicle itself, stored in two bulky bags. For our part, we did it with a Legrand reinforced classic grip at the rate of a night (eight hours announced by Bentley) to achieve this. On a 7.2 kW terminal, it will take two and a half hours, but our experience on the road has issued some caveats.
Between the charging stations with a queue, incompatible with the standing of the vehicle, those located in an improbable place (same comment), those out of service and those delivering a few kilowatts as there is nothing else in the corner, we quickly understand that, outside the usual places, adventure awaits. And that, without even mentioning the space and a half needed to park the 5.13 m long and 2 m wide Bentayga.
LIFE ON BOARD
A new lighting signature, “Virtual-Cockpit” instrumentation and an enlarged infotainment screen provided by Audi give a little “high-tech” air to the spectacular English cabin. At the top of the dashboard still sits the Breitling watch with needles (option at €3,720) above the chrome ventilation pulls, worthy of the 1930s. The customization possibilities are endless – 67 body colors, 15 leathers, 8 types of woodwork – but always floats a little baroque air like no other.
A Bentley is recognizable at first glance with its original upholstery, its abundant topstitching, its full upholstery and the maniacal care given to the finishes. This is largely what makes the difference with its distant cousins of the Volkswagen group which use the same traction chain (Touareg, Q7, Cayenne). On the Bentayga, hybridization and the 168 cells that make up the battery pack guaranteed for 160,000 km or 8 years now prohibits the 7-seater option.
We therefore remain at 4 + 1 as the rear seats are individualized and, if we are still talking about the bench seat, it is sliding. A removable touch screen from the rear of the center console allows you to control a number of functions without having to contort yourself. At 479 l, the capacity of the trunk is comparable to that of the thermal models, but it is necessary to accommodate the two large bags containing the various charging cables, necessary for any journey beyond the daily cabotage.
AUTO POINT OPINION
Closing the door electrically sucked into its frame feels like locking the Bank of England’s vault. We have abandoned the outside world to dive into a padded universe, where the eardrums will require time to tune in. What then to taste when starting the machine, absolutely inaudible, or, later, to appreciate the sound system on board or the on-board TV (+ €1,200). The 20 HP Naim audio system will still claim an additional €7,992, but what a music lover’s delight, as will the €13,962 Mulliner finishing pack! Moving this floating cocoon on pneumatic suspensions and 22-inch wheels requires first of all delicacy and taking into account the volume of the machine confronted with urban pitfalls.
The Bentley style adapts very well to hybridization, which encourages you to break down gestures, not to brutalize anything. The game is also, by getting to know each other, getting the most out of the batteries, which we did by reaching 46 km of autonomy in urban driving. If we disregard this exercise, on the road, the duo works in harmony with this resource, providing the accelerations expected of such a vehicle. But, unlike a 100% thermal, the hybrid very often suggests keeping an egg underfoot. You become thrifty in spite of yourself and you have to force yourself to demand more from your vehicle.
The Bentayga digests it with an air suspension perfectly adapted to each situation, providing efficiency and supreme comfort. With its all-wheel drive, the chassis does not flinch up to a fairly remote limit, dictated by the weight… or the grip of wet pavement.
It is also during braking that hybridization is felt the most, recovery not fully blending with mechanical braking when it becomes necessary. Here too, driving in anticipation of the hybrid is naturally necessary in order to regenerate the batteries as well as possible without entering into the licking of the discs. The “Bentley” position of energy management is also the most judicious. It is also possible to force the recharge when approaching a city by using the V6 as a generator, but it is not very ecological.
On the roads and highways, we managed without too much effort to go down to 8.7 l, far from the 3.7 l claimed in the WLTP standard, but there were fewer cities on this route. This must be considered the reality, convincing enough compared to other thermal versions. Except one, the fabulous and very efficient 435 hp diesel V8, unfortunately removed from the catalog by limited legislation.
Impressive weight and dimensions
Braking regen jolts
Indispensable but bulky charging cables
The technique of the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
Heat engine: V6 biturbo
Power: 340 hp from 5,300 to 6,400 rpm
Torque: 450 Nm from 1,350 to 5,300 rpm
Electric motor: permanent magnet
Power: 128 hp
Combined power and torque: 449 hp and 700 Nm
Battery: Li-Ion 17.3kWh
Home/wallbox charging time: 8 hours/2.5 hours
Transmission: permanent all-wheel drive
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Dimensions L x W x H: 5130 x 2010 x 1710 mm
Trunk: 479 l
Speed: 254 km/h
WLTP consumption: 3.4 l (from the test 8.7 l)
CO2 : 84 g/km (bonus-malus: 0)
Weight: 2,648 kg
Weight/power ratio with and without battery: (5.9 – 7.8 kg/hp)
Price: from 199,462 euros