The Bentley Bentayga is an uber-luxurious and exclusive SUV that redefines luxury in this area of the market, but you might spot some Audi switches around the interior
The Bentley Bentayga is the first SUV that the company has ever made – and it’s an even plusher alternative to models such as the Range Rover, Audi Q7 (with which the Bentley shares its underpinnings) and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
As a result, the Bentley is one of the most expensive SUVs on sale, putting it in a very rarefied class. But, if you buy one, your investment will be rewarded with a car that’s faster than pretty much all of its competitors and one that provides a new world of luxury.
This second point is immediately apparent when you climb aboard and are greeted by a cabin that’s armed to the teeth with high-grade leather, expensive wood and high-quality metal trims. The interior doesn’t just look luxurious, it smells it too.
So far, so Bentley, but the company has also got its hands on some of the latest technology. For instance, nestled between the two analogue dials that dominate the instrument binnacle is a multifunction digital screen. However, the main feature is the eight-inch touchscreen – the best of its type in any Bentley. Yes, some of the other switchgear is shared with cheaper Audis, but not many people will notice that.
Instead, any driver is more likely to be busy with the 22 separate motors that adjust their seat. As a result, it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position and the car’s height means you have a better view of the road than in any other Bentley.
In the back, buyers get the choice of two individual seats (exactly the same as those in the front) or a three-seat bench. Whichever you choose, the Bentley doesn’t have as much space as a Range Rover, but it more than makes up for it in terms of sheer luxury.
Likewise, the Bentayga’s 430-litre boot isn’t as big as the Range Rover’s, but the car’s practical hatchback boot lid and flat floor make it easy to load bulky, heavy items. Dog owners can rejoice, too, as this is the first Bentley to be compatible with their four-legged friends.
The other good news is that the Bentayga is far better to drive than many people expected. And, much of the reason for that is the car’s sophisticated suspension system, with active anti-roll bars that are designed to give Bentayga owners the best of both worlds. They allow the standard air suspension (with three preset modes) to be smooth as silk on bumpy roads before stiffening up to stop this huge SUV rolling around like a blancmange in corners.
So-called experts were falling over themselves to tell Bentley they shouldn’t be building an SUV, but I’m glad Bentley ignored them. The Bentayga is an amazing vehicle
It’s an impressive range of abilities and what’s most impressive is that the Bentley combines all this with a strong off-road ability; something it arguably needs to do if it hopes to prise the country set from their treasured Range Rovers.
However, Bentley says there’s no need for a low-range gearbox, because the car’s flagship engine produces so much torque. That engine is the huge, twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 that can get this car from 0-62mph in just four seconds and on to a frankly ridiculous top speed of 187mph.
In everyday use, that translates into effortless performance, so the car feels quick, even with the throttle only pushed halfway. If that’s all a bit too much, you could always go for one of the (petrol or diesel) V8 models, which are pretty much every bit as quick and quiet in everyday use. They’ll also cost a little bit less to buy and run than the frankly scary W12.
Then again, although the car costs a lot of money, at least there’s enough equipment to make you feel you’ve got what you paid for. For a start, buyers have 17 colours, 15 types of leather and four wood veneer finishes to choose from, so you can have a car that is almost unique without having to venture onto the options list.
Then, there’s wi-fi connectivity, a soft-close powered boot lid, automatic dipping LED headlights, air suspension, a panoramic tilt and slide sunroof and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. And, among the options are a rear-seat entertainment system, 22-inch alloy wheels, massaging front seats, picnic tables that fold from the backs of the front seats and a pair of super-comfortable individual rear seats complete with their own centre console.
While its huge price and running costs mean the Bentayga will remain a car only for the lucky few, it offers something almost unique in the market. Until it arrived, no SUV had ever combined luxury and performance in this way.