By Mike Torpey on 2018-08-18 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Bentley Bentayga W12
THE burden of expectation can be immense - especially when you describe a car as the most luxurious, hand-built, all-terrain vehicle on Earth.
Few car manufacturers can make such lofty claims, even more so when the words ‘fastest' and ‘most powerful' are added to the mix.
But then Bentley is no ordinary car company and its long-awaited SUV, the Bentayga, no ordinary vehicle.
Three variants are currently up for grabs - the sporty Bentayga V8, a more frugal 4.0-litre diesel and our tested model the Bentayga W12 - with a Hybrid version to follow later this year.
Neither Bentley nor its customers does cheap, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the W12 - the model most traditional Bentley purists are likely to want - will set you back a princely Â£162,700 for starters.
This is some serious motor car though, and one which delivers on every level.
If anything its looks are understated, to the point that anyone walking past a parked Bentayga in the dark may not even give the car a second glance.
Step inside though, as either driver or a passenger, and prepare to be blown away.
Sumptuous doesn't really do the Bentley's cabin justice. We're talking soft leather upholstery complete with that distinctive Bentley aroma and perforated, massage seats in hand stitched diamond quilt pattern with the company's winged emblem etched high in the back rests.
The eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is simple to use and the aluminium air vents with their organ stop adjusters and chrome bezels on the switches are classic Bentley.
Interior space is cosy and relaxing with room to stretch the longest of legs, a double panoramic sliding roof lets the light flood in and if the cavernous boot should ever prove insufficient then the rear seats fold 60-40, though not completely flat.
Beneath the bonnet lies a monster from the deep in the shape of a 6.0-litre W12 twin-scroll turbo engine developing 608bhp of punch and 633lb/ft of pulling power.
Performance is volcanic - 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds straight - and on to a potential 187mph, which is pretty sensational for a car that weighs almost 2.5 tonnes.
Even so, and despite the presence of cylinder deactivation technology, the Bentayga still belches out 296g/km of CO2 and will officially return only 21.6 miles per gallon.
Our own return over 275 miles of suburban and motorway driving was closer to 15mpg.
Needless to say, the Bentayga's road manners are out of the top drawer - smooth, supple and beautifully composed, while muddy fields and rutted tracks are tackled with ease.
Our tested model came with something called the Black Specification including carbon fibre elements; sills, splitters and spoilers; 22-inch wheels and gloss black tailpipes.
And like the rest of Bentley's options it doesn't come cheap - £19,950 to be exact. But that's just the start as this model arrived complete with a whopping £64,380 of add-ons, from a Breitling clock at £2,995 and LED welcome lamps at £800 to a 'Naim for Bentley' sound system costing £6,615 and rear seat entertainment with maps for £5,635.
Bentley Bentayga W12 Black
Mechanical: 608bhp, 5,950cc, 12cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via eight-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 187mph
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 21.6
Insurance Group: 50
C02 emissions: 296g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 3 yrs/unlimited miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.