The World’s Very First Ultra-Luxury SUV
An exclusive interview with Michael Winkler, President and CEO of Bentley Motors Inc.
By Robin Jay
The evening of October 1, 2015 was rich with exclusive moments at 2020 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami. Not only was it the unveiling of the new Bentley Miami showroom, it was also the unveiling of the world’s very first ultra-luxury SUV: The Bentley Bentayga. And, for me, it was an exclusive opportunity to interview the new President and CEO of Bentley Motors Inc., Mr. Michael Winkler.
“The Bentayga is a logical extension for Bentley. The sports utility vehicle market is still growing very strongly – but we noticed a hole in the market: There wasn’t a single ultra-luxury SUV on the market,” said Winkler, a native of Frankfurt, Germany, who say’s he’s been an automobile nut since he was a little boy, and now is living his dream at Bentley. “Our average Bentley customer – especially here in Miami, one of our largest markets in the United States – has five to eight automobiles in the family garage, two of which are usually premium SUVs. But they’re getting bored with premium SUVs. And so here we unveil the bespoke Bentley Bentayga – the fastest SUV ever. And, like true Bentley tradition it’s still completely made by hand.”
What inspired the name Bentayga? Winkler says according to Chairman Wolfgang Durheimer, the name is a combined reflection of the Bentley name, along with the natural world – the dramatic beauty of the Taiga, the world’s largest transcontinental snowforest, as well as the rugged peak of the Roque Bentayga in the subtropical Canary Islands. It’s symbolic of how the Bentley Bentayga experience is superior in luxury and high performance, both on-and-off-road, compared to any other sports utility vehicle on the market today.
I asked Winkler what Bentayga amenities would surprise even a current Bentley owner. He answered modestly, “The Bentayga has some cool little features, like the option of an exclusive Breitling self-winding clock embedded with mother of pearl, diamonds and gold. It also has an exclusive tailgate option – a refined hand-stitched leather seat that extends out from the back that’s perfect for enjoying pre-game activities with your picnic basket and portable refrigerator.
“I still remember vividly the very first time I drove a Bentley 20 years ago,” Winkler reminisced. “There’s a very special feel when you sit behind the wheel. Even before you turn the key to drive, the smell of the leather, the feel of the materials, the craftsmanship of the wood throughout the car – all painstakingly handmade – leave a beautiful impression you simply don’t find with other brands.”
No doubt bespoke car enthusiasts will feel the very same way Winkler did the first time they experience Bentley Bentayga.
At the time of this interview (perhaps ever), there is no MSRP for Bentley Bentayga.
To see it in person, visit Bentley Miami at 2020 Biscayne Blvd. Miami. Or call 877-356-0290 or visit www.bramanbentley.net.