26 January 2020 |
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Bentley Bentayga Hybrid: The Analogue Future

I think Elegance looks the same as it did since centuries. Luxury materials will be luxury materials and luxury brands have the power to remain luxury brands. But what does the Future bring?

It is a sunny day in London. The taxi stops in front of a big white house in the expensive residential area of Belgravia. I come out of the car and the crisp cold air cuts deep behind my ears as I look around for a second time to be sure I am at the right address. It is here alright. I check the doorbell and there is only one name. So again a confirmation that my appointment is at a high level. For obvious reasons I would name my acquaintance Sir Gordon. He is about to meet me as I was recommended to discuss a little about style. He is now in his seventies but still very much a trendy gentleman.

Sir Gordon enters the room just seconds after his maid asked me if I want a tea or a coffee. He is dressed with grey wool pants, a green cashmere V-neck sweater and underneath I can see a thick cotton white shirt with blue stripes. I think he is the gentleman you would expect him to be but still he is curious to know what he can add. He jumps right to the subject warning me that his next appointment starts in 15 minutes. But for me it is somehow difficult to follow as I am helplessly trying to guess which kind of watch he is wearing. The double cuff of his shirt is giving me a hard time and the only clue I am being offered is that it is a gold case watch. Obvious. Gold remains the choice for a watch intended for Sir Gordon. But what else? We are now into the accessories topic so I take the liberty and I jump to save myself from my curiosity: “Excuse me, Sir Gordon, the watch you are wearing is a….” The white hair, red skin, green eyes combination of his face freezes. He stares at me for a second and then he starts to laugh as loud as he can. “This? It is an Apple Watch and since I got it I can’t live without. I have many watches but one that would not tell me emails and messages is now useless.” For sure a normal Apple Watch would be too “normal”. And even if Apple gave up the idea of making a gold cased watch, Sir Gordon is still with his as he is maybe inside a hard-to-believe scenario where this kind of combination actually fits.

A hybrid Bentley is one of the realities we are witnessing today and Sir Gordon appears to me as one of the potential clients. Bentayga obviously brings all the practical advantages of a SUV into the rarefied world of true luxury cars. But it is still a Bentley. What you don’t see, it  may be called Future and comes in the form of an “electrical identity” that allows you to drive around 35 to 40 km without having to wake up the gasoline engine. Behind the wheel I can feel myself a little like Sir Gordon. I enjoy the silence of a powerful car which otherwise would accompany any acceleration with the usual deep voice of a V8 or a V12. I can see the time on the Breitling watch in the dashboard and for sure the quality of the materials are these days harder to find even in cars presented as “luxury”.

Bentayga plug-in hybrid is actually introducing the smallest gasoline engine into the world of Bentley. It is powered by a V6 joined by an electric motor. It can use both in the same time or each one of them, separately, depending on the driving mode. But really I don’t think Sir Gordon pays any attention to this. This particular version gets a little bit heavier because of the extra batteries. And if I look into the specs, going from 0 to 100 km/h means 1 second slower compared with the V8 version. Otherwise, sitting high and rich means you can afford being calmer while the traffic participants treat you with respect. Sir Gordon wouldn’t also care this is the most economical Bentley ever. But having an electric motor under the “B” logo is as intriguing as wearing a gold cased Apple watch. So, while others are seeing a luxury symbol, you might be checking the electric power meter so perfectly fitted inside the analogue rev counter. Because you just love classic watches. But preferably those able to give you a little more. A glimpse of the future.