WHEN a beautiful Bentley whizzes past it is always an impressive sight – somewhat tinged with envy aimed at the lucky person behind the wheel.
But what I did not appreciate until now was the level of detail, craftsmanship and brilliant design that goes into each and every car.
That’s because I was lucky enough to be given both a Bentley Bentayga Speed to try out for a few days and a guided tour of the company’s amazing Crewe factory (just before the lockdown).
Starting with the Speed, it is the world’s fastest luxury SUV (just) with a top speed a shade over 190mph! It can also sprint to 60 in just 3.8 seconds, despite weighing in at 2.5 tones and being the size of a Transit van.
Launched in 2019 the Speed is not cheap at £182,200 and my test model also boasted a raft of extras and bespoke fittings which added another 25 grand.
In fact no two Bentleys leave the factory the same as there is a bewildering choice of luxury interior and exterior materials (leathers, woods, paintwork etc).
Despite its awesome power – 626bhp (23 more than the old model) from the ‘all new’ twin turbo W12 – the big SUV is surprisingly easy to handle thanks to a range of driving modes from Comfort to Sport… and in the latter the exhaust note, already impressive, turns even more purposeful – an automotive symphony.
For 2019 there was a chassis tune up with firmer suspension and new settings in Sport mode that sharpen up the mapping for the engine and transmission plus an innovative active roll control system. Carbon-ceramic brakes are also available and the ones fitted to our test car were very impressive.
Outside the main changes are a bigger tail spoiler, smoked headlights, body-coloured side skirts, huge 22in alloys, a new grille and Speed badging.
Inside the interior becomes even more sumptuous. Our test car had ‘Burnel and Porpoise’ leather with contrasting stitching and carbon fibre facias and centre console.
As you would expect the latest Bentaga comes with a long, long list of standard features including active cruise control, night vision, head up display, 360 degree camera system, heated and cooled electric memory front seats with massage function and a raft of electronic safety systems.
So the product is impressive but the place where it is made is even more so. Bentley’s Crewe manufacturing plant truly is a centre of excellence. Seeing how much care and craftsmanship that goes into a Bentley to some extent explains their high price tag.
My factory visit showed the incredible amount of effort and care that goes into making these magnificent machines – for example around 200 people work in the trim section alone producing the exquisite embroidered seats and other ‘soft’ interior fittings.
Those lucky enough to be able to order a Bentley can come to the plant and select from dozens of wood veniers and leathers for the interior and pretty much any exterior colour you can think of.
So the next time you are passed by some lucky driver in a Bentley as well as envy also feel pride as these magnificent motors, despite being made by a company now owned by the Germans, truly are the best of British.
More infomation at www.bentley.co.uk
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth
Bentley Bentayga Speed specification:
Price £182,200 Engine 12 cyls, 5950cc, turbo, petrol Power 626bhp at 5000rpm Torque 663lb ft at 1500rpm Gearbox 8-spd auto Kerb weight 2491kg Top speed 191mph 0-62mph 3.9sec Fuel economy up to 29mpg.