When Bentley starts making an SUV, you know that segment of the market must be extremely lucrative. Just ask Porsche, which now sells a lot more SUVs than sports cars. So Bentley has introduced the Bentayga.
With the Bentayga, Bentley offers an SUV with a combination of utility, speed, luxury and refinement heretofore unavailable. Beautiful styling abounds, especially in the front with large, round headlights that mimic the Mulsanne.
This car offers the whole package: performance, utility and luxury. Power emanates from a W-12 twin turbo engine that cranks out 600 horsepower to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Even hauling 5,340 pounds, this thing is really quick. Handling is good; it stays pretty flat in curves, and the power steering is only slightly overboosted. Brakes are also good, but you can tell they’re trying to harness a lot of weight. The engine shuts off when stopped, with just a slight hesitation on the restart. Four drive modes let you choose the trade-off between a silky smooth ride and sharp handling, and an All-Terrain package offers four traction settings. Hill descent and traction control allow for serious off roading if you’re willing to scratch and chip the paint of your quarter-of-a-million dollar vehicle.
Technological innovations include heads-up display (shows speed, posted speed limit and navigation directions), parking assist, night vision, blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition. A back-up camera and park distance control greatly assist parking this large vehicle.
Of course, being a true Bentley, the Bentayga offers the gamut of modern luxuries and amenities, from four-zone automatic climate control to soft-close doors. A large, easy-to-use touch screen with surrounding buttons gets you to the desired screen quickly so you can program the navigation, adjust the radio, or control myriad systemic functions. A fancy analogue clock dominates the center of the dash, surrounded by beautiful wood trim. Gorgeous soft leather swaths the doors, seats and entire posh interior. The front seats even offer a luxurious multifunction massage feature.
A panoramic sunroof over the front and rear seats lets in a lot of light, and backseat passengers get plenty of room, including wood picnic tables on which to place their Grey Poupon. They also get removable tablets (and accompanying headphones) to watch videos, play games, do work, or connect to the Internet. Next year, a third-row seat option will be available. A button in the cargo area can raise or lower the vehicle height to ease loading (part of the adjustable ride height system).
Brian Tull, Bentley Manager at Bentley St. Louis, really likes the car’s drive. “The Bentayga drives like a smaller vehicle even though it’s not. It’s ridiculously fast, 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, plus it has all the luxurious amenities you’d expect in a Bentley. It will even park itself.”
▶ Base: $232,000
▶ As driven with options: if you have to ask …
▶ 14 city, 20 highway
▶ Front engine; all-wheel drive
▶ 6.0 litre twin turbo, W-12 petrol engine
▶ 600 horsepower
▶ 8-speed automatic transmission
Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.