2016 Bentley Bentayga review: Super-luxury, super-expensive

In the super luxury market, Bentley was the first brand to break from tradition and offer its customers a full-sized SUV to give buyers an option above the ubiquitous Range Rover. Some scorn Bentley’s decision, but for all the Crewe firm’s basis in tradition it needs the Bentayga as much as a sizeable customer base demands it. Mixing Bentley’s usual design cues with the proportions of a big SUV might have posed its own challenges (make your own mind up on how successful it’s been), but there’s no questioning the way it drives. Huge power, incredible capability, and masses of sumptuous and hand finished luxury are all Bentley hallmarks, and very much in evidence in the Bentayga.

Did you know? It’s possible to option the Bentayga with a Breitling Tourbillion clock, which costs as much as the car itself.

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A controversial car, of that there’s no question, but as Porsche demonstrated before it with the Cayenne, uncomfortable styling and uproar from brand purists is nothing against the might of a customer base wanting an SUV. The Bentayga’s design initially jarred, but with familiarity its impact is softening, and it’s doing what Bentley wanted it to do – fill the order books. The production lines at Crewe are heaving with Bentaygas, the big SUV exactly what many buyers wanted from Bentley, so it would have been mad to ignore them. All Bentley’s usual characteristics are present too: the quality is sensational, the interior a demonstration of hand-finished, tactile luxury, and the drive defines effortlessness and over-abundant performance. That’s true of other Bentley models, only with the Bentayga you get to look over the traffic, or have the ability to head into the wilds.
It’s a difficult car to rationalise looking from the outside in, and there’s no doubting that an Audi Q7 – which shares its underpinnings and engines with the Bentayga – is a much more rationale choice at less than half the price. But it’s not a Bentley. And if you want a Bentley SUV, the Bentayga will be exactly what you desire.
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Absolute, indulgent luxury
Huge performance
Remarkable ride comfort and body control
We Don’t Like
Its looks are rather divisive
The high list prices are just a starting point
Touchscreen a bit slow and tricky

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You only need to look at the design of the most expensive houses in the country to realise that taste is very much subjective, and what appeals to some doesn’t to others. That’s undeniably true with the Bentayga, which takes the familiar style of the Bentley Continental GT and mixes it up with some SUV genes. We’ve been here before, as Porsche mashed-up 911 and SUV to create the Cayenne with similarly jarring, controversial effect – and it didn’t hurt sales one jot. That’s almost certain to be the case with the Bentayga, and whatever you think of how it looks there’s no denying it’s got presence. It’s also impossible to ignore the quality of the surfacing, as the bodywork is impeccably finished; the attention to detail around elements like the bright work and the incredibly tight shut lines underline Bentley’s status as a super-luxury carmaker. Existing and potential owners didn’t get to where they are in life caring what other people think of them, and they’ll not give a damn whether people like their big Bentley SUV or not. Our advice though: it works best in darker hues, and avoid the optional carbon fibre sports styling kit, which is like adding bright-coloured running shoes to a dinner suit. Being controversial is one thing, but that’s just daft.

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You buy a Bentley for the interior, and the Bentayga is no different – only elevated to a new height. It’s absolutely glorious inside, every surface finished in the finest materials, by genuine craftsmen and women – you can see and feel the many hundreds of hours that it’s taken to produce the sumptuous cabin. How it’s finished, from wood veneers, brushed metal, carbon fibre, indeed, whatever you want, to the different mixes of fine leather hides, their colour, stitching type and pattern all personalised to your exacting requirements. Likewise, the winged dashboard, door trims, headlining and carpets can all be individually specified, so if there’s something you don’t like then, ultimately, it’s your own fault for picking it. The strong Bentley tradition is obvious, from the familiar bullseye chrome air vents and their organ stop pull operation to the big, armchair like seats that both support and cosset, to the absolute hushed silence on the move. You’ve paid a lot for all this, and it’s evident why.
Space inside is generous, helped by the Bentayga’s height. It will seat seven if you option the two rear seats in the boot; though in standard form it seats five, in luxury. Choose the seven-seat option and you lose all the boot space, and those pews are really only useful for children or flexible, smaller adults. There’s also the option to split the regular rear bench into two individual seats divided by a large console that can be filled with a champagne chiller or suchlike, depending on your needs and wants. The boot is large, though choose something like that rear-seat chiller, the ‘Event Specification’ that adds a fold our rear bench, or the most expensive audio kit and some space is lost – likewise opt for the picnic boxes and you’ll chew up virtually all the space.

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As the newest model in the range and, whisper it, based on Volkswagen Group architecture, the Bentayga is a Bentley that’s finally able to offer the sort of connectivity and technology you’ll find elsewhere in the premium car marketplace. There’s adaptive cruise control for example, while the Bentayga is the first Bentley that’ll help keep you in the correct lane. The infotainment system is a leap into the present too, an eight-inch touchscreen containing the navigation and audio controls and connecting easily with your choice of smartphone. Bentley sensibly keeps the ventilation and heating controls separate, with conventional controls below that large screen. While the new touchscreen is welcome, its operation lacks the slickness of some rival systems, though many of the features are accessible via the steering wheel mounted controls.
The mix of tradition and modernity is no more evident than the instruments, where two large conventional dials are joined by a bright screen. It can display the satnav information in map form or any of the entertainment and connection options. In addition the Bentayga can be had with a head-up display, which is a first for a Crewe car. There are standard parking sensors all-round and a reversing camera, which is useful given its scale. On top of all that, the options list is vast, including individual rear-seat entertainment, WIFI connectivity, digital TV (in addition to the standard DAB radio) and Bentley’s incredible Naim stereo, which brings stadium-filling, studio quality replication to the road – admittedly at significant cost.

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Performance & Handling
It was launched with the familiar 6.0-litre W12 turbocharged petrol engine that allows Bentley to bill the Bentayga as the ‘fastest, most luxurious SUV’. Producing 608hp that’s no surprise, even with the Bentayga’s not insubstantial bulk to haul around. It does so convincingly, too, the Bentayga able to reach 62mph in 4.0 seconds from rest and onto a top speed of 187mph. For those in less of a hurry – slightly – and wanting to stop less for fuel, Bentley also offers a 4.0-litre V8 turbodiesel. Bentley’s first diesel finds its natural home here and it’s a sensible place to debut it, not least as it’ll up the range significantly from the 85-litre fuel tank. It’s no slouch either, with a 4.8-second 0-62mph time and 168mph top speed.
Both engines generate the same massive 663lb ft of torque, which, combined with the slick eight-speed automatic transmission, gives the Bentayga the sort of effortless, low-rev urge that’s very much a characteristic of Bentley’s cars. The big SUV will deliver quite shocking pace even from relatively low revs, while its breadth of ability and ease of driving are deeply impressive. There are all manner of off-road settings if you choose the All-Terrain Specification, controlled via a rotary dial similar to the one you’ll find in the latest Land Rovers; turn it to the icon that best describes what you can see outside and the Bentayga’s four-wheel-drive system, engine mapping, gearbox strategy, and suspension adjust accordingly, whether it’s the sand of a desert, snow of a mountain, or mud on your farm. Few will ever venture off-road, but it’s amazingly adept if you do decide you want to take that optional picnic box somewhere off the beaten path.
Not that you’ll need to take it off-road to be impressed, as the Bentayga drives very well on the tarmac. Option the 48V suspension technology via Bentley Drive Dynamics and the Bentayga’s suspension constantly adapts to its surroundings, allowing near roll-free cornering allied to serene ride comfort. That makes it enjoyable in the bends, too, the Bentayga’s agility remarkable given its scale and mass.
Recommended engine: W12
0-62 MPH
4.0 seconds
Fuel economy
21.6 mpg

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Unsurprisingly, the Bentley Bentayga has not been independently crash tested, though as it’s based on the same platform as the Audi Q7 it’s not unreasonable to expect it to perform as well as its five-star relation. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution are standard, as is electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, traction control, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, and a full house of airbags and brake assist. You can add Lane Keep Assist and other autonomous driving aids via the options list, too.

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Spec & Trim Levels
There are standard colours, Bentley offering suggestions via its configurator, but seven different categories are offered, from Blacks, Blues, Greens and the like, to Golds, Oranges, and Browns. The standard palette is extensive then, to which you can add any colour you like, as Bentley can match your Bentayga’s paint to anything you wish, and we mean anything: we’re told that Bentley’s people have sampled colours to match a toaster – seriously.
Trim Levels
There are subtle differences between the Diesel Bentayga and the W12 model relating to the colour of the grilles and shape of the exhaust pipes, but as with any Bentley, it’s inconsequential as you can change virtually every element to your personal taste. Standard equipment is decent rather than generous, so you get the basics like satellite navigation and climate control, but the expectation is you’ll spend time (and a not insignificant amount of money) adding your preferred options to it. That’s the norm at this level of purchase, and something buyers reportedly enjoy.
Size and Dimensions
It’s big, though the standard parking sensors take the fear out of parking…
Max towing weight without brake
2,390 with braked trailer Diesel (W12 – 2,422 braked)

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Fuel Economy
It’s laughable to assume that any buyer dropping in excess of lb135,000 will give any consideration to the running costs, but they will inevitably differ significantly between the two different Bentayga models. The outrageous speed of the W12 is tempered somewhat by its excessive consumption; the quoted 21.6mpg is far from parsimonious and the reality in everyday driving will be more mid-teens. Start chucking it about on the way to your Alpine chalet and you’ll be doing well to achieve double figure economy. The 296g/km it emits might just shorten your ski season, too. The diesel then makes a bit more sense. It squeezes 35.8 miles out of every gallon of fuel officially, though again the reality will be less. Think about mid-20s, which, given the weight and performance, is acceptable. We’d pick the diesel then, if only to widen the gaps between filling it. It’ll cost a whack to insure too, but then, you knew that, didn’t you?
Reliability and servicing
The Bentayga is too new to really know how reliable it’ll be, while servicing will be a cinch, as Bentley’s dealers know all about customer service. It’s rude to talk money, your servicing bill is not likely to be cheap, though.
Petrol models
10,000 miles or annually
Diesel models
10,000 miles or annually

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In this rarefied world people are looking at ways of spending more money, not saving it, so the starting prices for the Bentayga are entirely justifiable. This is a car you can nearly double in price by just optioning a clock for the dashboard, after all, though even with a modest dip into the extensive options list then you’ll comfortably add tens of thousands to the price. It might seem excessive, but given the vast potential for personalisation and the huge luxury and capability the Bentayga represents, Bentley could easily charge more and wealthy buyers would still be banging on dealers’ doors to get into one. Compared to their boat, plane, artwork or apartment in Monaco it’s really, really small change. That’s their reality, making comparisons rather pointless, even if from the outside it all seems a bit preposterous.

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Large Families
Lots of kids? Bung some seats in the boot with the seven-seat option.
Car Enthusiast
The W12 with the 48-Volt roll stabilising suspension is wickedly quick and surprisingly agile.
Luxury Seeker
That’ll be the W12 with the optional Brietling Tourbillion clock, the ultimate in decadence.
Audi Q7
The Bentayga’s German cousin is vast and capable, but so common in this company.
Porsche Cayenne
Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo is sharper to drive, but lacks the Bentayga’s opulence.
Range Rover Autobiography
The once standard bearer for luxury SUVs is out done in the luxury stakes by the Crewe car.
Mercedes-Benz GLS
Seven seats and huge capability in this Merc, but it’s mass-produced in comparison to the hand-finished Bentley.
Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Ancient, bank-vault build quality and hugely popular among the super-rich, the G is dripping in charm and stupidly fast in G 65 AMG form.


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