In 2017, we drove Bentley’s foray into the increasingly crowded SUV market. The Bentayga is a luxurious option for those that think a Range Rover is a bit down market. Bentley first brought out its Bentayga fitted with a W12 engine. Now the British automaker has returned with a new power option; a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Power is rated at 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. That’s down from the 600 hp and 664 lb-ft produced by the more expensive 12-cylinder version of the luxo truck.
With this downsized engine, Bentley can deliver its Bentayga with a downsized starting price. In fact, the $165,000 starting price tag should cause top-spec Range Rover owners to pause and reconsider what they’ve done. The average Range Rover owner, at least here in the States, seems to prefer strip-mall stunting to off-road adventure. Modern Range Rovers can still go anywhere. They can be used to ford small streams, climb mountains, or cross deserts. The luxury SUVs are likely never used in such a manner.
It’s still no off-road hero
The Bentayga doesn’t have the same level of off-road prowess, but it has more than enough to make it from the jet center, up a long driveway, and into the garage at an owner’s winter home. Where a Range Rover may have once been parked, the Bentley can exist to provide a greater level of self satisfaction and presence. After all, lots of people own Ranger Rovers. Far less so own a Bentley.
And with its force-fed V8, the Bentayga is still a hoot to drive. Mash the throttle and the engine produces great noises. The forward acceleration is still plenty capable of shoving you deeper into the fine leather thrones. And the Naim audio system coddles your ears to an even finer degree.
Were I suddenly tasked with delivering a few friends to a far off destination, and assuming I have a healthy car allowance, the Bentayga sits near the top of the list for this mission. It’s incredibly comfortable. Devours the road ahead of it. Swallows luggage with a press of a button to close the rear hatch. And it looks… mostly good when you arrive. Yes the face can be a bit much for some, but every other angle works well for me.
[Disclaimer: Bentley tossed us the keys to the Bentayga and included a tank of fuel.]