This is Bentega.
And not only is it the fastest SUV ever made, it's probably also the most luxurious and exclusive.
It's Bentley's first forray into a world that it has never previously set foot.
And we're here today in sunny Southern California to take this car To terrains I would have never of dreamt taking a Bently before.
For over a decade Bently has changed it's image.
Taking it from it's 20th century self, one of beautifully crafted cars to be driven in to making stunning cars you want, no need to drive yourself.
The continental G.T. set Bently on this path of creating high performance ultra high luxury cars that feel more aggressive and sporty and with cars like the E.X.P.
10-6 on the horizon, that trend looks to continue.
In 2012 though, Bently threw us a bit of a curveball at the Geneva motor show.
An unveiled the EXP9F, a concept SUV.
To say it's reception was mixed would be being kind, but Bently saw enough potential in the idea to forge ahead and what we've ended up with is this.
Our first challenge in the Bentega is winding through these mountain roads over looking Palm Springs.
And you know, a Bentley is a Bentley, they put that W-12 in here that's got so much torque that the two and half thousand kilos that this thing weighs just gets thrown around like it's nothing.
It would have been very easy for Bentley to create the car that's incredibly capable off road but has left us with something that doesn't really Scratch all your itches in terms of road driving.
In order to make a car soft enough to be able to traverse difficult off-road terrains you could be left with something that corners horribly at speed.
But Bentley has put a 48 volt anti-roll system in this car which engages the anti-roll system at higher speeds to make sure that you can still corner Like you can in a continental GT, stiff and flat.
It handles more like a Bentley that I know and love, than an SUV.
All of the classic Bentley design cues are here, and make it instantly recognizable And somehow all of those stylings stretched over an SUV body work.
Don't get me wrong, no one's going to be hanging posters of this on their walls anytime soon, but I think it's a handsome looking ride.
It doesn't have the soft rounded feel of the current Range Rover or Portia Cayenne, it's actually sharper, a little more chiseled and aggressive.
It has a touch more of the muscular to it, just like it's stable mates.
The interior is exactly what you'd expect from Bently, the absolute highest quality wood, metal and leather that looks, feels and smells amazing.
A Bentley SUV though, a Bentley SUV.
Well the question why is redundant.
SUV's are the fastest growing sector in the industry, and the economy is in full recovery.
Money is beginning to flow again and people really want big, practical cars that are still status symbols of their wealth and success.
SUVs like all other parts of the industry have layers available to you.
You've got your Audi Q7s and your X5s and then above that you've got your Range Rover Sports and your Porsche Cayennes.
And that was it.
Beyond speccing up your car or customizing it to within an inch of its life, there really wasn't any other way of spending money on an SUV.
Until now Bently had helicoptered in the Bentayga's, this top tier of the SUV cake, providing a high point in luxury and performance that you can now spend all of your readies on.
The question isn't why, the question is at what cost?
This is where a lot of people, me included, get concerned.
Does branching out into SUVs somehow cheapen the brand?
Does it spoil their reputation by pursuing a car we all know will land them in serious bank, but might not embody everything they stand for.
To test that, I'm going to do something I do with every Bentley, but in a way I've never done it before.
I'm going to thrash it off-road.
Well, that was my first experience of driving a Bentley off-road and despite the slightly raised driving position, from the driver's point of view, you are clearly driving a Bentley.
So taking it anywhere that isn't perfect tarmac feels a little bit weird.
And certainly when you get that horrible sound driving too close to dry branches or [INAUDIBLE] shreeking creaking and crack your way down to paint job.
You think someone in crew must be slowly sobbing themselves to sleep and then no [UNKNOWN] You're ruining the perfectly hand-finished, mirror-finished paint job.
But once you get over that you realize it is an incredibly capable off-road car.
That was in no way the most challenging terrain this car could handle, nor does it even have the most ferocious of off-road settings.
This is just on normal road tires and it just took everything in its stride.
And there is so much torque in this car that as long as one wheel is touching the ground you're always going to get traction.
But there are so many driving aids that at times your feet are completely off the pedals, you barely have to put in any steering input and you've been taken around.
By a car that's doing almost all of the work for you.
Autonomous cars might be far off but cars like the Bentega can certainly do most of the hard work for you.
Powering the Bentega is the familiar combination of the W 12 engine with a Z F18 speed gear box.
Now Bentley say that it's an all new W 12 and not a single nut bolt or washer has been taken from the old one.
With 600 brake horsepower, and 663 foot pounds of torque, it certainly gives you what you need to power through some serious desert roads.
0 to 60 is in an incredible 4 seconds flat.
That's just as quick as the Bentley Continental GT speed.
And it tops out at 187 miles an hour.
Making this not just the fastest SUV in the world, but a damn fast car of any kind.
The Vantega is built on the VW MLB platform, which it shares with the Audi Q7 and the Portia Macan, but it would be a mistake to say that the Vantega is either of those cars underneath.
Rather than sharing a shassy, the similarity really only Extends to the engine layout.
For all intents and purposes, this car's been built from the ground up.
And this is where it all starts to make sense.
I was so worried about what the [UNKNOWN] might take away from Bentley.
But I never stopped to think about what it might be adding.
What it adds is some totally badass off-road capability to an already awesome lineup of cars.
This car is like a street roll in a swede suit.
Mark and me will never really be down with Bentley creating an SUV no matter how good this car is.
And I'm sure a lot of you at home will feel exactly the same way.
We would prefer them to stick to making the cars that we are really passionate about and we really want to drive ourselves.
That's our hang up.
That's something we need to get over.
This car not only represents the largest investment Bentley has ever made in a single project.
It's also the safest bet they'll ever make and it's success will under pin the development of some really interesting cars in the future.
For that we should be incredibly grateful.
But the Bent take is more than that.
It is truly a magnificent car in it's own right.
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