Bentley Joins SUV and PHEV Party with the 2016 Bentayga

Written By: EightySix

This week at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Bentley released some information about its first ever SUV. Not too much, however.

Let’s start with the somewhat exotic name - it's called the Bentayga. The name comes from Roque Bentayga, a peak in the Canary Islands known for a challenging climb and panoramic views. Certainly a better name than the EXP 9 F prototype introduced at the 2012 Geneva show.

The Bentayga will be released in 2016 powered by a 6.0 liter W12. Diesel V8 and plug-in hybrid versions will follow in 2017. Predicted electric range for the PHEV is 31 miles. No word yet whether a V6 or V8 will be used as the complementing gas engine. Bentley is being sneaky about most of the details.

It Sure Can Climb a Dune

Bentley tossed a tidbit to the public in the form of a test video. A matte-black camouflaged Bentayga roars up a sand dune, kicking some dust but seemingly quite in control. The data on the screen indicates the temperature is 95 degrees and the grade being climbed is as steep as 63%.

Spy photos reveal a stocky body with classic Bentley lines. The hood sweeps to round head lamps and a split grille. Nowhere near as bulbous as the EXP 9 F from three years ago. The interior appears to be more digital than its failed predecessor with more wood and metallic accents.

Bentley Bentayga hot climate test teaser video. 

The EXP 9 F failed to impress anyone when it was first seen. It was the most awkward Bentley ever, with too much creasing in the bodywork and odd proportions. Inside and out it seemed an obvious blend of Mulsanne and Continental with little original thought.

Bentley hurried back to the drawing board. A few years later, we should see an improvement.

It's a Logical Move

It seems almost strange that this luxury brand does not yet have a full-sized SUV. Whenever the wealthy crowd wants to drive around several friends, they're doing it in a Land Rover, Escalade or GL550. Bentley needs something in the yacht-class.

But you know it will drive like a speed-boat. CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer promises the "world's fastest, most luxurious SUV". When he was with Porsche, he brought us the Cayenne. Surely the twin-turbo W12 from the Continental Speed could get a big SUV to sixty in about five. But what would a PHEV model feel like?

Rest assured, it would be Bentley muscle first and foremost. Likely, the new 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 would be in it with all-wheel drive and 8-speed quick-shift automatic. It gets the Flying Spur to sixty in 4.2 with a top speed of 183.

No problem fitting a hefty battery and a stout electric motor in it. Instant electric torque jumping in just before the turbos spool up could be a wicked drive indeed. Oh yeah, the 31 electric miles are nice, but focus on Bentley getting the best from both power sources.

The Most Expensive Green Cred Ever?

The price is expected to be in the mid $250K range. Is the owner worried about saving gas money? No, but it is possible to care about the environment for reasons other than financial. The Bentayga could lead the way for full-sized plug-in SUVs with electric range.