Bentley Bentayga: the luxury newcomer SUV market

PUBLISHED: 15:19 19 October 2016

Bentley Bentayga, supplied by Bentley

Bentley Bentayga, supplied by Bentley

ILIFFE

Billed as ‘the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world’, the Bentley Bentayga almost seems to defy logic.

Gaining in popularity, SUVs are the fastest growing sector in the automotive market, and if you’ve not got one in your range then you’re missing out on a lot of sales. That’s true of even the most luxurious brands, which is why Aston Martin, Lamborghini and even Rolls-Royce will soon be joining the party.

Already in 2016, we’ve seen launches of the Maserati Levante and Jaguar F-Pace, while Land Rover has unleashed the £150,000 Range Rover SVAutobiography.

However, while it may have its critics, for now Bentley has the ultra luxury SUV sector virtually all to itself, which explains why the Bentayga is sold out for its first year of production.

Standing as tall as an average man, measuring more than five metres long and weighing in at around 2.5 tonnes, the Bentayga is enormous. Looks are subjective and few new cars have generated so much discussion but, for me, the front end definitely works, with its huge matrix grille and distinctive floating all-LED headlamps, while the profile is a classy affair. However, it’s the Bentley’s rear that’s perhaps a little more divisive.

Happily, inside it’s oozing with Bentley DNA. Beautifully finished and sumptuous, there are metres of signature diamond quilted, hand-stitched leather, plenty of precision-cut burr walnut and air vents controlled by polished chrome organ pulls. The front seats feature 22-way adjustment, a six-programme massage system, heating and ventilation, while the space available in the rear puts many a limousine to shame.

Naturally the Bentayga is packed with tech. There’s an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while driver aids include Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Sadly, all that luxury and tech comes at a price. The Bentayga will set you back £160,200, and by the time you’ve added a few optional extras it’s likely to end up closer to £200,000. My test car is a case in point; with extras, I’d need to find £193,135 to buy it. Ignoring the value of the car, I took the Bentayga to the road and found it to be extremely impressive. Yes it’s enormous, but the opulence, build quality and sheer power of the engine are intoxicating – its powerful 6.0-litre W12 engine can propel it to 60mph in 4.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 187mph.

For a car of this size the performance is mind-blowing – and, of course, it’s a whisper quiet cruiser. Thanks to Bentley’s innovative electronic Dynamic Ride system, the Bentayga also delivers a superb blend of handling and ride quality, with body roll virtually eliminated on the road without sacrificing anything in the way of comfort. And as if all that isn’t enough, the Bentayga also has all-terrain ability.

There are four on-road modes (Sport, Comfort, ‘Bentley’ and Custom), plus four all-terrain options (Snow and Grass, Dirt and Gravel, Mud and Trail, Sand Dunes), but let’s face it, most Bentaygas won’t go near anywhere remotely dirty.

Clearly this car is not about economy, but for the record, it’s capable of 21.6mpg and emits 296g/km of CO2.

The Bentley Bentayga has unbeatable badge appeal and road presence. Powerful, practical, comfortable and luxurious, the world’s fastest SUV is also a surprisingly serious driver’s car.

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