Double Take: 2017 Bentley Bentayga

Take One: Harry Pegg

Bentley Bentayga. Like a rock!

It’s true! Bentayga is named after Roque Bentayga, a big pointy spire in the Grand Canary Islands. No kidding!

Roque Bentayga
Roque Bentayga

You can take this Bentley into the boonies, but if you spent $400,000 would you go off-road?

Not me.

Two of those 22-inch alloys might get onto the rough shoulder, but there’s no way any part of that $8,000 paint job would brush underbrush.

That’s not to say Bentley’s foray into the SUV market couldn’t do it. The company assures me it will and the specs back it up.

Perhaps it’s my personal economic status that colours my thinking and maybe someone who can afford it would take on the back country in truly opulent style.

I got to spend some time in the Bentayga thanks to Bentley recently and it has taken the “wow” some time to wear off.

This is a vehicle that takes the word “utility” to previously unheard of heights while maintaining the “sport” part of the Bentley heritage.

The exterior may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the proportions of the marque’s first SUV are about as pleasing as you can get in a utility shape.

My wife, not normally over-impressed with sport utility vehicle says “I really LIKE this thing.”

What does she like?

Well it’s not the $410,000 as-tested price and it’s not the power or the handling specifically. To some extent it’s the exterior look that makes Bendayga look smaller than it really is, but she doesn’t notice the carbon fibre trim package which costs a cool $45,187.44.

Dare I say “just like a woman?” It’s the ambiance that turns her crank, an interior that’s a symphony in wood and leather and colour. And it’s the ride.

I love the fact that under the bonnet (Bentley speak for hood) is a 6.0L W12 twin turbo engine that blasts out 600 horsepower and a massive 664 lb-ft of torque which goes into action at just 1,350 rpm. The power gets to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Look out Cayenne! This thing will run from zero to 100 kmh in just 4.1 seconds. With four people on board.

Bentayga is fairly light for a Bentley, weighing in at 2,422 kg (5,340 lbs.), so it drives a lot lighter than it looks. The steering is neutral but it handles corners like a sports car, with only minor lean thanks to Bentley Dynamic Ride, a new active anti-roll bar that uses two electric actuators – one at each end of the vehicle — to mitigate body roll.

The system produces a firm, but never jarring, ride on paved roads, but according to the specs, allows maximum wheel articulation if you should be audacious enough to go off-road. Additional settings are labelled dirt and grass, mud and trail, snow and grass, and sand dunes. Two suspension settings will add ground clearance and hill descent control will hold downhill speeds.

The systems are monitored on the infotainment screen as well as incline/decline, articulation and side-slope angle. Off-road nannies go to sleep when speed reaches 75 km/h.

That’s when the regular crew of nannies goes to work if you let them: adaptive cruise control, automatic lane-keeping, even night vision.

Those are some of the things that turn MY crank, but I love that interior, too: the leather, the veneer, the heated and cooled seats, the two-tone colours, power everything and the fact that all the controls are laid out in proper order and that the electronic stuff is actually intuitive and fast.

It all goes together to make driving the Bentley Bentayga a quiet, relaxing, so-this-is-how-the-one-percenters-live experience.

They’re going to sell like hotcakes.

The vehicle I drove had a starting price of $266,090, but extras like touring package, 4-seat veneer specification, sunroof, 22-inch alloy wheels, special paint, contrast stitching, deep pile carpet, rear entertainment, freight and PDI along with $45,167 for a carbon fibre exterior trim package pushed the tab up to $410,016.74.

Oh, wait. I did go off-road. Slightly. To take the photos.

Rock on!

Take Two: Miranda Lightstone

When you’re known for something, generally you stick to that thing, and you excel at it. Always had a way with words? Might I recommend becoming a writer of some sort? Love numbers? Finances! Always been the class clown? Well, there’s a stage somewhere begging for your presence to bring a much-needed grin and giggle to everyone in the audience.

So, when companies like Maserati, Jaguar, and now Bentley turn from high-performance, luxury cars to crossovers, I can’t help but furrow my brow.


Why stray so far from what you know? And truthfully SUVs and crossovers are indeed a different beast from coupes and high-performance sedans. While crossovers can be seen as high-riding cars, they are different breeds of vehicles that appeal to buyers with very different needs.

When I first caught wind of the Bentley Bentayga, I laughed. Full-on belly laugh. Bentley? Making an SUV? Were they crazy? Were they stupid? Did they want to waste all that time and money for nothing? And when I saw photos I laughed harder; because, really it just looked like an overweight Continental in serious need of a personal trainer…

Then I was invited to drive one.

Here’s the thing: It’s a Bentley. Bentley makes good cars. Very good cars. They use the very best materials. They are scrupulous with the details, and they make extremely powerful engines.

All of that has gone into the making and engineering of the Bentley Bentayga. And it shows.

Full disclaimer: I was only given a few hours with the Bentayga, so this is just going to be a quick first impressions piece as I think a full week is needed with this car to properly experience life with it. Because, owning a Bentley is, after all, a lifestyle.

The first thing you notice about the Bentayga is its size. This is a large vehicle. Now, if you break down the numbers it is technically “smaller” than an Audi Q7 … however, this thing weighs well over 3,000kg. Um, that’s a rather ridiculous weight to pull around. Knowing this, I immediately thought it was going to feel sluggish, slow even, despite the equally large powerhouse beneath the Bentley-crested hood.

About that power: the 2017 Bentley Bentayga is equipped with an oh-so yummy and fabulous 6.0L twin-turbocharged W12 mill that has on tap 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque.

This thing absolutely flies, despite its rather rotund rear.

Pop it into “sport” (because, there is a sport option you’ll most definitely want to engage) and the Bentayga springs to life – well, as much as a vehicle its size can “spring.”

Gear shifts are quick, seamless and the W12 positively purrs.

I will say, I wish it had a better exhaust sound. With such a large and powerful engine, I want to hear it working, I want a hint of a turbo spool, a bit of a burble and pop from the exhaust when I have it in sport shift mode and let the revs ride higher than usually then pop it into the next gear.

But then, I’m not the target market for such a vehicle.

No, I’m more in the realm of the Continental GT Speed, but even that is a bit too civilized for my taste… But I digress.

Back to the Bentley at hand; the beautiful Bentayga.

2017 Bentley Bentayga
2017 Bentley Bentayga

Beautiful might be a strong word here. This SUV is handsome. Stately. It holds a certain stature on the road, one of dignity and strong family lineage.

However, it’s perhaps not the most attractive.

Draped in a deep purple (by the way there are 17 paint colours to choose from and another 90 extended variants, as well as bespoke creations), with matching purple and cream leather inside, I have to say I was quite taken with my Bentayga, but not in the traditional sense.

Inside, it’s every bit a Bentley and just how you’d expect it to be: opulent, silent upon door closer, spacious, and loaded to the gills with gadgets, screens, seat settings, and everything electronic.

Speaking of electronic: Here is my biggest complaint about the Bentayga (and it can be deactivated so really, how much can I complain?); the lane-keep assist is way too intrusive. It almost feels as if there is someone underneath the steering wheel constantly making corrections. It’s extremely obvious that the car is “driving itself,” and I often found myself fighting against the lane-keep to be on the line I desired while driving. It was just a bit too intense for my liking.

Throw all that together and stick a price on it in the $200k range, and what do you get? A Bentley SUV that will very likely do very well, despite the window sticker. Why? Because it’s different. It’s exclusive. It’s rare. And it’s actually pretty practical. Not only can you configure your Bentayga as either a 5-seater or 7-seater, but it also offers a kind of Land-Rover-esque terrain response system as well as suspensions height adjustment to ensure your off-roading (or just winter driving) needs are met and perhaps even surpassed.

The Bentayga’s taught me an extremely important life lesson: Just because you excel at one thing, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least branch out in the opposite direction and explore that, too. You might not do as well as you would, since it’s not what you know and what you’re good at, but hey you gave it a go.

Now, who’s up for walking me through a little calculus…?

2017 Bentley Bentayga:
Trim level: Bentayga W12
Price as tested (before taxes): $410016.74
Freight and PDI: $8,518
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 6.0L twin turbo W12/ eight-speed automatic
Power/torque: 600 hp/ 664 lb-ft
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 19.0, hwy: 9.6 L/100 Km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic), 5-years/100,000 (power train)
Competitors: Porsche Cayenne, Maserati Levante

Related links:
Bentley Motors

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