The Bentley Bentayga has shown up at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, lightly disguised and using the grille from the Continental GT as it enters what company chairman Wolfgang Durheimer has said is its final test phase.
Another SUV closely related to the Bentley is also being put through its final paces – the Audi SQ7, the go-faster version of the upcoming Q7. Both Bentley and Audi are owned by the Volkswagen Group; both vehicles share the same MLB platform and many parts. The third SUV in the share-and-share-alike venture is the Porsche Cayenne.
First the Audi Q7, which will arrive in New Zealand before the Bentley. The SQ7 pictured here is a pre-production model free of camouflage. Spy agency Automedia says the tell-tale signs that it is in fact the SQ7 are the heavy duty ceramic brakes, quad-tip exhaust outlets and what appears to be intercoolers peeking out from behind the air intakes up front.
Automedia says the intercoolers alone hint that the SQ7 will use a pumped-up version of the 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine introduced last year in the RS5 TDI concept. The RS5 engine used an electric supercharger to help deliver 283kW at 4200rpm and 750Nm between 1250rpm and 2000rpm.
As a second choice, Audi will probably opt for its 4.0-litre TFSI twin-turbo V8 already powering a handful of Audi S and RS versions. Expect it to offer anywhere between 373kw and 450kW in the SQ7.
As well as the chassis, the Bentley Bentayga shares its engines with the Audi Q7 and SQ7, although they will be reworked to generate ‘Bentley only’ power numbers in an SUV that Durheimer says will be the “fastest, most luxurious, most exclusive in the world.”
Buyers will have the choice of two VW Group petrol engines – the 6.0-litre W12 from the Continental GT and the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8. A hybrid drivetrain, which Durheimer has said would be able to be driven for 50km on battery power alone, is expected to show up around a year after the conventional models.
A diesel engine – a first for Bentley – is also expected at some stage. The most likely candidate is a revised version of the 4.2-litre V8 that will be one of the engine choices in the new Audi Q7 line-up.
Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber has said: “We are definitely investigating a diesel engine. It will fit into the platform we are using so it could make sense to do it. Sales in Europe for a car like that could be very high, and for relatively little investment on our part.”
The Bentayga – the name comes from a craggy peak in the Canary Islands – pictured here could well be the hybrid because the photographer from Automedia says there appeared to an ‘extra flap’ ahead of the right front door. Although it is on the other side in these pictures.
Bentley has already revealed part of the luxurious interior in a video. It shows a bespoke driving mode selector, a touch-sensitive design which incorporates the engine’s starter button. The driver’s display is also seen, showing a speedometer that tops out at 320km/h, backing Durheimer’s “fastest SUV” claim. Part of the video focuses on a multi-function instrument cluster too.
Bentley has said it has 4000 serious “expressions of interest” in the Bentayga, which is likely to be priced in England from $NZ275,000. The new SUV will be made at Bentley’s factory in Crewe, rather than alongside the Audi Q7 in Slovakia.
Bentley has invested around $NZ1.7 billion to handle SUV production at the Crewe plant. It will spend more as it gears up to increase production capacity to around 20,000 vehicles a year by 2020.
The Bentayga might not be the only Bentley SUV. Chairman Durheimer has hinted at a smaller model down the track. He said he had great enthusiasm for the SUV market, which was “expanding three times faster than the market as a whole.”