Bentley Bentayga review – the ultimate luxury SUV?

Bentley's first SUV is sure to be a sales hit, but its sheer weight limits the appeal as a drivers SUV

The Bentley Bentayga takes the terms ‘performance’ and ‘luxury’, ramps them up to the extreme, and then attaches them to an SUV. It’s Bentley’s first car in this class, and as such it’s an extremely polarising model. Is it a triumph of modern engineering and proper Bentley to boot, or is it a cynical attempt to cash in on the growing global SUV market at the expense of the British brand’s rich heritage?

Whatever the Bentayga is, it’s certainly not a half-baked effort. In fact, it might be Bentley’s most advanced car to date. This near-2.5-tonne beast may have a cabin stuffed with as much fine leather and wood as a gentleman’s club, but it also has performance to rival serious sports cars. There’s even a modicum of off-road ability – not exactly a Bentley hallmark – and a reassuringly hefty price tag to match.

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The Bentayga may not be a classic Bentley in spirit – in fact, we’d be very surprised if owners are ever let out of a side turning – but in engineering terms, it’s up there with the best, and sits pretty much in a class of one at the top of the luxury SUV pile.

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Bentley Bentayga in detail:

Performance and 0-60 time > Staggering pace from such a huge car; 0-60 time rivals even sports cars

Engine and gearbox > Choice of W12 petrol or V8 diesel, both mated to smooth auto gearbox

Ride and handling > Impressive, but there’s no disguising the size and weight of this monstrous car

MPG and running costs > ‘Frugal’ is a word that doesn’t feature in the Bentayga’s dictionary, but diesel will do 600 miles between fill-ups

Interior and tech > Shades of Audi Q7, but stuffed with enough leather, wood and technology to make up for it

Design > It’s difficult to call the Bentayga pretty, but ‘imposing’ certainly covers it

Prices, specs and rivals

The Bentley Bentayga is, perhaps understandably, priced out of reach of all but society’s top earners. A starting price of £135,800 gets the ball rolling, but for most owners that’ll just be a jumping off point for even greater expense. For instance, you’ll need to cough up an extra £30,000 if you want the stonking W12 petrol engine, while it gets even more extreme if you begin to peruse the expansive options list. That said, most Bentayga buyers will let their accounts worry about the price lists, and are unlikely to baulk at a £22k Naim stereo upgrade. The dash-mounted Breitling clock may raise a few eyebrows though – it’s machined in solid gold and costs over £150k (on top of the price of the car!).

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Rivals? Not many. The elite may consider the Bentayga alongside more traditional luxury cars like a Rolls-Royce Ghost or even Bentley’s own Mulsanne. But we think it’s more likely to appeal as a luxury option for those who need genuine practicality for outdoorsy pursuits. After all, the children’s riding gear can be awfully muddy, and the family Labrador can’t ride in an enclosed boot either.

That pitches it as a rival to the Range Rover, Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q7 – albeit at a significantly higher price point.

The Range Rover offers the most compelling alternative – a long-wheelbase SVAutobiography fitted with a 550bhp V8 engine starts from £167,280, offering comparable performance and luxury to the Bentayga. In fact, some might argue that it provides a better luxury experience. The Range Rover does after all ride on its own platform, while the Bentayga – no matter how powerful and expensive – shares a great deal of its components and oily bits with the considerably humbler Audi Q7. The Range Rover also offers a far more imperious driving position, while it’ll show a dirty pair of heels to the Bentayga off-road.

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