Power in a big Bentley

The sporty and luxurious Bentley Bentayga SUV is massive and ridiculously powerful

During my Bentley Bentayga test drive, I did not feel like a David Ting. I felt like a David Beckham - rich, handsome, successful.

Its base price is equivalent to the combined price of three units of the new Audi Q7, whose platform is closely related to the Bentayga's.

Despite that, more than 5,500 orders have been placed with Bentley - 2,000 more than the planned production for next year.

Surprising really, since the car is not exactly what one would call good-looking. The exterior is impressive in size, build quality, colour choices and shiny bits (those grilles and wheels), but it is not very pretty.

If it was difficult to design a Bentley sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that did not look like a chunkier and clumsier Flying Spur, it must have been even harder to make the vehicle perform with flying colours.

  • SPECS/ BENTLEY BENTAYGA 6.0

  • Price: To be announced when the car arrives in April

    Engine: 5,950cc 48-valve W12 turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shift

    Power: 600bhp at 5,000rpm

    Torque: 900Nm at 1,350-4,500rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.1 seconds

    Top speed: 301kmh

    Fuel consumption: 13.1 litres/100km

    Agent: Wearnes Automotive

The Bentayga can reach 300kmh (301kmh, to be exact) and hit 100kmh from a standstill in just over four seconds.

The claimed acceleration capability is believable and the way the car storms from 120kmh to an indicated 220kmh without losing its breath suggests that the top speed is realistic.

Powering the 2.44-tonne Bentley behemoth is an equally monstrous engine: a 6-litre twin-turbo W12 with 600bhp and 900Nm.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox transfers the forceful energy to all four wheels. The car sits on air suspension and stability is enhanced by electrically controlled anti-roll bars.

There are four driving modes to choose from. Four more modes are available with the optional All Terrain Specification, which makes the Bentayga the most versatile Bentley today.

Moving slowly through the historic centre of Marbella, the car rides as gently and as quietly as a limousine. In fact, it feels somewhat like Bentley's Mulsanne flagship.

Moving even more slowly in the off-road course, the car is surefooted enough, but a modern Range Rover would probably be more confident in the same conditions.

Moving rapidly on Spanish motorways, the car is extremely smooth and well insulated, with the 150kmh cruise feeling more like 100kmh, unless one looks at the speedometer.

On the curvier sections of Sierra Blanca's mountain road, the Bentayga behaves like a gigantic hot hatch with 12 cylinders - dashing ahead on straight stretches of tarmac, diving into corners and tackling them eagerly with surprisingly little body roll.

Not so "hot hatch", though, are the engine tone (Bentley's V8 sounds nicer than this W12), automatic transmission (which could react more promptly to the driver's pedal/paddle inputs) and brakes (which have to work hard to slow/ stop the huge SUV).

The spacious and luxurious cabin is like an English castle on 21-inch polished alloy wheels (22-inch and 20-inch ones are also available). Plush leather, posh wood, classy carpet and cool chrome touches are elements that Bentley does so well.

Every seat is incredibly comfy, with the driver's throne so cushy that even after driving 100km, I still felt as relaxed as I did in the first 100m.

State-of-the-art infotainment, advanced driver assistance, and bells and whistles complete the new Bentley.

But the best feature of the sporty luxury SUV is none of those. It is also not its powerful performance, versatile practicality or multi-terrain 4x4 capability.

Put simply, it is the car's ability to make a David Ting feel like a David Beckham.

•The writer is the editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline 'Power in a big Bentley'. Print Edition | Subscribe