[Editor’s Note: This is a bit of a different review style for AutoGuide.com. We think it’s important to tell human stories, and this one’s as real and raw as it gets. We hope you enjoy.]
I needed quiet. A way to shut the world out. To stop the Earth from spinning and the sun from shining. I couldn’t handle people laughing, having fun, smiling, or otherwise enjoying their lives.
It wasn’t their fault, but the drone of life was caustic, acidic to my skin and soul. I didn’t want to see the world and didn’t want the world to see me. The pain was too unbearable.
I’ve never been more thankful for a car so absent of sound.
Two days before I left for Austria to drive this new Bentley, my wife and I had been handed a 6-pound, bright blue-eyed baby boy. We had survived eight months of intensive training, stacks upon stacks of paperwork, and detailed first-hand descriptions of best- and worst-case scenarios from other parents to become foster/adoptive parents in California’s Foster-to-Adopt program.
We had tried to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, but it wasn’t meant to be. We had always talked about adoption, and when an introductory class came up, we went in to listen. Eight months later, here we were, a crib built, diapers ready, bottles washed, and our hearts open. Then, two days before I was set to leave for Austria, Parker was delivered to us.
He was the light at the end of the tunnel. He was beautiful. A happy little baby just 12 days old. His eyes were bright blue, his fingers grasped at mine, and until the moment I left for Austria, he was in my arms or on my chest. I left him with a kiss on his cheek, not knowing it’d be the last time I saw him.
Just as fast as he came into our lives, he left, placed back with his biological family.
When the call came, I was 6,000 miles away. Away from my wife. Away from being able to say goodbye. Away from my support system. Away from anything that could’ve softened the blow — although I highly doubt anything could have. I broke. Every piece of me broke. I froze as I heard my wife tell me through her own tears that he had been taken away. I collapsed and sobbed. He may have been with us only for a short time, but I had given him my heart; my love. He was ours.
But now, he wasn’t.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t even know if I could walk, let alone drive the new Bentley Bentayga V8 through the Austrian Alps and into Germany. I only had 20 minutes before I was supposed to do just that. But did it even matter now? Why even bother? I knew everyone would understand my needing time. But that meant I’d have to tell them. I’d have to relive that hell and relive it throughout the day as friends on the program would likely try to give their consolation.
I had to get up. Although, at the time, I couldn’t have known that the quiet the Bentayga provided would become a sanctuary.
On the road, the glacial traffic through Austria gave me pause to breathe. Like all Bentleys, the Bentayga V8 was built to provide customers with a silent sacristy. An interior devoid of the hum of exterior life and its normalcy. After what felt like hundreds of miles, I needed to stop. Although the quiet first soothed me, my mind swirled as thoughts and emotions were left unchecked and untethered.
I pulled off the road and onto a snowy hiking trail, surrounded by a dark pine forest on the outskirts of some quaint Austrian town. In my agony, I yelled and screamed at the world. I roared at the futility of caring or loving. I sobbed helplessly. My emotions couldn’t be contained. Yet, they were contained by the Bentayga. No one heard my pain as I sunk into the SUV’s warm quilted leather seats. I wished for the world to halt. To cease my dealings with the world itself. To stay in the forest and become a statue.
I thought about trying to do my job. To take my mind off Parker, and the pain Alli must’ve been enduring without me. I needed to evaluate the Bentley and its new engine. So I drove, but only half-aware of the world around me. It all just seemed to pass by in a dull gray hue. I couldn’t tell you what roads I took, which towns I passed, what coffee I drank at the lunch break, what the supposedly picturesque Alps looked like, or much about anything else.
Of the new twin-turbocharged V8 engine, I remember it producing an AMG-like noise, although softer and less savage. Its punch, however, was a guttural surge of power whenever I stabbed the throttle. The “hot-V” setup eliminates turbo lag and feels as monumental as its 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque suggest. But that’s all I remember. On that day, the world could’ve burned around me, alight from cannon fire, or plunged into the sun and I would’ve likely missed it.
The next several hours of tracing my way through the sinuous alpine Austrian roads, and awash in anguish, I set a single song on repeat in the 1,950-watt Naim audio system: Stealth’s “Judgement Day.”
After what felt like months on the road with only my thoughts and the rock ballad, the isolation delivered by the Bentayga finally calmed my aching soul. I still felt broken, and I missed Alli beyond words, but the rage and unadulterated angst had subsided. My tears had stopped. And I had at least some presence of mind to contemplate the Bentley before I gave back the keys.
Although I doubt Bentley would ever market the new Bentayga V8 as a means of therapy in any of its materials, the brand has always built cars meant to cosset and calm its customers, and on that day, Bentley’s ethos of serenity was therapeutic. In the Bentayga V8, I was left to grieve, to rage, to cry, and to try to put myself back together in utter seclusion.
The Bentayga gave me the opportunity to rail against the universe so I could go home and be strong for my wife. Strong for my family. Strong for the next child-in-need who requires us to give them every single ounce of love and attention we gave to Parker.
I can shed my tears. Remember what Parker felt like in my arms the first time I held him. Remember the first time I kissed his head. What his face looked like when I left for Austria. The Bentayga gave me time to solidify my memories. To engrave him upon my mind. And although Parker may have left us, he’ll never leave our hearts.