If governments were at all concerned that the motoring industry was ignoring its machinations to push it in the direction of electric and electrified cars, they can now rest easy.
Bentley have come to the party with the fabulous Bentayga – in hybrid plug-in form. Yep, that’s right a fully-fledged Bentayga but with both a petrol engine and an electric motor.
The internal combustion engine, mind you, is the smallest in the Bentley range, a mere 3.0-litre V6 job, but before purists get too hot under the collar it is paired with an electric motor offering 128PS which added together give a rather hefty 449PS.
And while we are still concentrating on the electrification, this Bentayga has three e-modes, EV, hybrid and hold.
Hold allows you to save the charge for city driving, in hybrid it automatically moves between the petrol and electric motor for optimum performance and EV will give you pure electric driving.
It is not a huge range in pure electric mode – 24 miles according to the official figures – although the man from Bentley who spent several months in Arizona test driving this new car told me he could get nearer 30 miles in the climate there.
Ah well – it’s a bit wetter and colder here in Blighty.
The battery is a doughty 17.3kWh which means it will take about seven hours to charge it on a domestic socket but much less on one of those rapid chargers – about two and a half hours – but basically, you get a Bentley car alongside a score of green brownie points.
The hybrid looks just like its traditionally powered sibling too with the big bold grille front, powerful alloys and strong kerbside stance.
Inside the luxury that is Bentley continues especially in this trim level Mulliner Edition with quilted Linen and Brunel leather – grey and cream – with a Liquid Amber veneer and contrasting stitching.
It is a thing of beauty with wonderfully comfortable seats with a massage function and the slightly retro touches like the circular air vents which give it that heritage and expensive feeling.
Even the foot mats are deep pile and the steering wheel is hand-stitched. The tech is as 20th century though, with a top view camera, park assist, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, night vision and traffic assist.
There is even a sunshine package which has electrically operated blinds for the rear side windows.
The whole lot is roomy, plush and everything you would expect on a Bentley – even a hybrid.
And there’s the thing. It takes off in EV mode by default which offers the deeply enjoyable sensation of rolling along but completely silently. This is what luxury driving should feel like.
But Bentley is not just the ultimate big smoothie. I took it on the hill loops at Millbrook Proving Ground and nothing fazed it – hairpins, stiff gradients blind corners.
This is also a car for driving and for enjoying the drive helped by the driving modes – Sport, Comfort, Custom and the default, Bentley.
That Bentley now has a plug-in hybrid that speaks volumes about where the industry is going. And hush – there will be a fully-fledged electric version soon.
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.
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