My Favourite Colour is Ireland
Exploring the wild of the Emerald Isle with Bentley’s Bentayga Diesel
Flying into Cork, from the moment the plane landed the weather was against us, conditions that lasted for the entirety of the trip – but in Ireland that’s not unexpected… The silver lining to the grey Irish clouds was that I would be able to see how Bentley’s luxury SUV would handle difficult weather conditions.
On our first evening we were treated to a spectacular falconry display with a hawk and three owls, a nod to the falconry set designed by Mulliner for the Middle East, before enjoying dinner in the Drawing Room at Sheen Falls Lodge.
An early morning start saw the group leave the 300-acre Sheen Falls Lodge (just outside Kenmare) to head northwest deep into fly-fishing territory. The Bentayga’s triple-charged 4.0-litre V8 engine took the frequent rough and stony surfaces in its stride, offering power when required and handling the tight Irish country road corners with aplomb for such a large vehicle. For the odd occasion where roads can narrow and become uncomfortably cosy there is a “PDC” console button that activates exterior cameras to aid navigation – this function may have been used or twice…
Eventually we parked on a grassy bank and Brendan Grant, the lodge’s head gardener, man-about-town, guide, ghillie, drummer and fly-fisherman, cracked open the Bentayga’s boot containing the hand-crafted fly-fishing kit. Soon we were casting the flies into a very full and fast-flowing stream at the heart of the great Irish outdoors, with no people, no sun, but, as it turned out, no fish.
Lunch was smoked salmon at the Purple Heather, one of the first restaurants in Kenmare, and then back on faster main roads in blinding rain, through the seaside town of Bantry, along the south and then the north side of Sheep’s Head peninsula. At a stop off, looking across the water at Arundel’s by the Pier, tea in one hand and giant scone with cream and jam in the other, it was almost possible to forget the wind and the unremitting rain. Equipped with an in-seat massage function the Bentley has just what you need to calm yourself when you’re driving a £198,155 SUV and meet a car coming the other way on very narrow mountainous roads…
Saving the most challenging road of the trip for the final part of the day, the Bentayga tore into the twisting heights of Priest’s Leap. Using it’s class-leading 435 PS (429 bhp) and 900 Nm (664 lb.ft.) torque the Bentayga effortlessly sailed up the vertiginous roads. There was just one heart-stopping moment towards the top when the narrow single track turns sharply right and then just as sharply left and down leaving you to see nothing but sky. The temptation was of course to slow to a crawl; fine for a Bentayga with the power to pull you up and over, just don’t do it in a lesser car, or you might be left hanging on the edge.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for a lesson in clay pigeon shooting and a glass of Irish coffee in time to witness the rain died down. Glancing at the trip clock, I noticed the day’s mileage was almost equivalent to a return drive to London which, aided by the car’s impressive range of 621 miles, had been achieved on a single tank of petrol.
Along the south-west coast, in County Kerry, I thoroughly enjoyed putting to the test the go-anywhere grand touring capability of the world’s fastest SUV. Unfortunately, we never reached its top speed of 168mph (impossible even without the rain on roads too narrow for high speed) but I have no doubt it would perform just as well at full speed on the German autobahn as it did on the Emerald Isle.
Photography courtesy of Roger Bool Photography