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Bentley keeps powering on with Bentayga variants

The Black Specification version designed with a Mideast buyer in mind has hit showrooms

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
Bentley’s regional head Stephen Reynolds said the bet to build an SUV was paying off on the back of Mideast demand.
Gulf News

Dubai

When you are on a roll, don’t go around making any radical alterations to Plan A. The British motoring marque, Bentley, is doing just that with its razor-sharp focus on extracting added value out of the Bentayga.

The Black Specification of the SUV — the world’s fastest such, as Bentley points out at each opportunity — is just making its way into regional showrooms. The manufacturer also does not hold back from saying this particular variant has been designed with a Middle East buyer in mind. (The Bentayga bearing the W12 engine can take care of the 0-100 km/h mark in about 4.1 seconds.) Carrying a showroom price tag of Dh1.14 million, the version does take living up to its name quite seriously. Luxury abounds within the interiors, and the exterior gets to be kitted out with painted black 22” alloy wheels twinned to glossy black painted exhaust tail pipes and wing vents to compliment the theme.

The Black Specification comes just after the entry of the Bentayga Mulliner at the top of the range, and commanding a quite substantial Dh1.42 million. But in the Bentley realm, the issue of price is but a tiny detail.

“As a brand we were fortunate with our timing — to introduce our first SUV in the middle of May last year and in some of the most challenging times across the region,” said Stephen Reynolds, who heads the regional operations. “It turned out to be perfect for us and it helped us move through. Arguably, the Middle East customers were the first to ask us to build an SUV and, now, it’s paying off.”

Indeed. The Bentayga now makes up a significant share of Bentley’s overall regional sales, which in 2016 totalled 1,230 units. Globally, the tally was just over the 11,000 unit mark.

Reynolds declined to give a specific share for the Bentayga. But with the Mulliner and the Black Specification available, it could well be that in 2018, the SUV could even aspire for half of the carmaker’s Middle East tally.

And it doesn’t quite end with there — late next year, there will be hybrid version for the SUV. But is it a road that Bentley should be taking? For a manufacturer known to amp up on performance, isn’t hybrid and electrification kind of pat? A distraction, even?

“Sure, we have always been known for that exquisite combination of luxury and performance … and perhaps do that better than any brand,” said Reynolds. “Our customers very much enjoy that combination we provide through conventional engines today. But electrification is coming … and we will find ourselves with electrification across the range in the coming years.

“That’s definitely not going to be a distraction and we will find our own unique way of embracing it. The challenge for our engineers is to work out the best way to bring that to life.”

Beyond the Bentayga and its many guises

For those regional buyers intent on a Bentley but looking at options other than a Bentayga, they can wait for the all-new Continental GT, sporting a similar 6.0 litre and twin-turbocharged W12 engine combination.

“We have started to take orders and it will have a base price just over Dh1 million,” said Stephen Reynolds. “The first deliveries will start in the middle of Q2-18.”

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