Simply Abu Dhabi XX

2 3 2 S I M P LY A B U DH A B I Bentley Bentayga ByDamienReid T here’s a giant sand hill in the UAE, not far from the Omani border, that’s developed a reputation as a car breaker among weekend desert duellers and automotive hot weather testers alike. Big Red stands about 200 metres tall and is comprised of sand so soft you’re guaranteed to sink almost up to your knees should you have to climb out of the car near the top. Which is precisely what we did on one of the hottest days of the year where the in-car thermometer hovered around 55C all day and peaked at 59C. This was no press junket; Bentley Motors had invited Simply Abu Dhabi to be part of the engineering team to carry out vital hot weather testing on arguably its most important model since the Continental GT, the new Bentayga SUV. As such, I was the first journalist in the Middle East and one of just a very few worldwide to be given the opportunity to drive the car a full nine months before the official media launch, so naturally non-disclosure forms and waivers were flying around via email between the UK and the UAE in the weeks beforehand to ensure nothing was leaked in advance. Joining us on the day was Cameron Patterson, Director of Whole Vehicle Engineering, who claimed that 162 development mules have been made comprising 40 simulators hidden under Audi Q7s, 14 hand-built prototypes manufactured in his workshop, 48 VFF pre-series cars assembled on the production line and a further 60 pre-launch cars ready for the final sign off. Our cars included one of the 14 hand-built vehicles and the first VFF down the assembly line.