A Bentley Road Trip
The Bentayga and The Continental GT. We’ve driven both models on a few occasions already and it’s safe to say that we’ll never pass of an opportunity to get behind any of Crewe’s best, especially on an Island we’ve come to call our second home over the years – Langkawi. As is with all great memories, it was quite the spontaneous plan, one that we couldn’t pass off even with all the frenzy of closing-week (it’s when we go mad and beserk finishing up our print issue). It was scheduled to be a one-nighter in Langkawi Island, driving up first with Bentley’s new SUV, The Bentayga and upon reaching The Westin Langkawi, we’d swap wheels for a Continental GT V8 S. Yes, assignments like these make the job quite awesome.
We got an early start that Wednesday morning late in September as Bentley KL’s Marketing and Communications head, Andrew Wong, was arriving with The Bentayga and as our chaperon on the road trip. Getting on the North-South Highway by 6.30am, we wanted to make quick tracks before the roads got clogged up with peak-hour road users. We needed to hit the Kuala Kedah docks before 12.30 to ferry over the Big B to Langkawi Island. Missing it, would cause an hour delay, seeing as the transport ferries work in one-hour intervals. So yes, we needed to be fast and efficient with our trail up north to Langkawi Island.
Sitting there and just gazing at this luxury SUV before we left, I felt proud already for adding some dirt to its massive 21″ double-spoke wheels. It’s actually quite the road trip vehicle; it has glorious amount of trunk space, handles light-gravel easily and doubles up as a great prop for some great road trip pictures as you can see. Out on long stretches of freeway roads, it’s a magical driving experience with ample legroom that has no place for driver fatigue whatsoever. It’s almost difficult to remember that beneath a Bentley’s luxurious finishes and amazing craftsmanship, is almost always, a behemoth of a powertrain to complement the entire package. The Bentayga’s immaculate road-going comfort is down to its spring and strut settings that make it absolutely comfortable to chase down 500-odd kilometres with a big W12 engine.
It’s the typical product of housing an air suspension system into a vehicle, however, the Bentayga comes with ‘Continuous Damping Control’, an active damper feature complete with 4 height settings. There’s also a dedicated setting for spirited conditions, known as the ‘Bentley Dynamic Ride’ system. This suspension arrangement and application brings the life out of its numerous driving modes, with my favourites being ‘Bentayga’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Comfort’. When I first drove it late last year in Langkawi as well, I was quite shocked at how this near 2.5-tonne SUV could perform with such agility and power on B-roads. Some good work has been conducted by Bentley’s engineers to tune the Bentayga’s new W12 engine to express itself this way.
As such, it’s easy pickings for this monstrous Bentley on a long-haul highway run. Its variable cylinders activate and deactivate accordingly to make full and efficient use of its massive 600 hp and whooping 900Nm of torque. Mind you, because of that torque amount, there is almost never a moment when the Bentayga can’t perform a sprint. It can be as subdued as a regal Mulsanne and switch into a bullet train in just a few short breaths. 4.1 seconds is how fast it dispatches the 0-100 km/h sprint and there are sports cars on our planet that can’t do any better than this SUV.
Handing the Bentayga over to its guardians at the Kuala Kedah jetty at 12pm on the dot, we then made our way across to Langkawi Island via a cosy little ferry. The ride across was also greeted by a heavy downpour of rain and it got us a bit worried about the ensuing weather conditions on the island paradise as we were going to be running around with another familiar Bentley- the Continental GT V8 S. Checking into The Westin Langkawi, we refreshed ourselves and headed out to begin our first bout with the Conti that wet and bleak evening.
It took me no time to familiarise my senses to the GT as it was akin to seeing an old lover again. Her steering wheel is as inviting as they come, covered in hide leather of the highest quality. The leather makes your hands stick even more to her helm and when your fingers reach for her big paddle-shifters on her column, the affair re-kindles in no time and pure style. Her knobs and panels looked as pristine as you’d expect from a 2million-Ringgit sportscar and there was no way of looking for any complaints in her exterior. The only thing left to do was to stretch her hoofs out on Langkawi island, a beautiful location to drive when the weather allows it of course.
Once out on the perfect B-roads of the island, we cautiously pushed the Conti’s powertrain. I’ve always believed Bentley’s Continental GT range appeals to a much younger crowd of connoisseurs and I was reminded why again on this date, especially in this V8 GT S trim. Her heart is made up of 500 British horses, with a meaty amount of torque, 660Nm available as early as 1,700 rpm, before going flat at 5,000 rpm. This big, 4.0-litre V8 mill provides all the necessary thrills to enjoy a truly polished and dynamic driving experience. I’m not one to love turbocharging of engines in general, but I felt nothing of it when behind this Conti, a reminder of why driving a Bentley is actually a special affair almost always. Unlike her bigger and new sibling, the Bentayga, the Conti is a much more agile sibling, and therein, so much more enjoyable in spirited bouts of driving: she handles quite ruggedly for all her stylish embellishing, coughing out those tasteful crackles and pops from her exhaust with each dip and raise of her shifters. Confident in and out of corners, the V8 loves to dance on the road in her own unique fashion whilst also having a knack for sprinting. The ride comfort in the Continental felt so much closer than in the Bentayga we drove up with. By closer, I simply mean that it felt stiffer but soft when you let the dampers do its job.
This particular GT V8 S was actually with its ‘Extreme Silver’ exterior coat. It is designed to give off a two-tone colour effect from varying angles. And again, as you can see, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Another testament to its exterior looks is in how the Conti gets you all the eyeballs you’d want when driving it. Knowledgeable eyes were taking notice at The Westin’s lobby driveway and the Langkawi fishing village boys on their small-horsepowered motorcycles rode by us on the roads with mouths agape. I’d imagine that if you were in the market for one, the host of options, especially from the Mulliner division, could grant you with a perfect car that not only looks posh and grand, but also has a little grit to her looks. I’d have had mine in this Extreme Silver paint along with some flashes of metallic black lines and sportier rims, not to mention an interior colour theme that is serious yet quirky. Black and purple hides maybe?
When we stopped for our rain-filled photoshoot the next day, the glistening character of the Continental, especially in this Extreme Silver tone, shone so bright. As Syazwan got deeply engrossed in capturing these beautiful photos you see of the Bentley Continental here, I on the other hand just stood there under the drizzle and appreciated this special moment with yet another special Bentley in its unique silver cloak. In all honesty, I was reminded of how there’s nothing quite like getting behind a Bentley, be it their SUV or grand tourers. Yes, you might assume that the occasion feels grander in a Rolls Royce, but I place the two marques in very different leagues only because a Bentley is suited for both the daily hustle, as well as with the grand entrance. You can’t/wouldn’t take a Roller off road now, would you? So, I think it’s down to personal tastes in the end, quite like how some people would love sitting by a balcony in Santorini, soaking in the Mediterranean Sea while others might prefer the autumn of a Napa Valley vineyard on a horseback trail. It’s how one defines luxury and freedom on a personal level, which is why there will always be a Bentley out there for each of us to express ourselves in our own version of extraordinary.