When Bentley announced it was launching its first-ever SUV people wondered whether the brand, known for producing some of the most luxurious coupes and sedans in the world, could find the appropriate balance of luxury and performance for SUV buyers?After driving the all-new 2017 Bentley Bentayga through Los Angeles we’re confident the answer is “yes!”
As you might expect, piloting the new Bentayga in West L.A. generated quite a bit of attention from pedestrians and drivers, a bit surprising given how many ultra-luxury vehicles litter the roadways in this area. Maybe it was the attractive Azure Purple paint, the Bentley badge, or perhaps the unique, unmistakably “that’s a Bentley” body lines. Probably all three, but one thing was clear: People immediately knew it was exclusive and very special.
The Bentayga has four Drive Dyanmics settings to choose from. The default setting is Bentley mode, which provides a refined and comfortable driving experience. The comfort mode lets the SUV glide even more effortlessly over potholes and uneven pavement. Sport mode, which was the one we used most of the time during our drive, provides a throatier exhaust note and sharper handling through winding roads without any serious hit to ride quality. Finally, the custom mode allows the driver to personalize suspension and engine settings to his or her preference.
Regardless of driver mode performance is never a problem, as there is more than sufficient power coming from the Bentayga’s all-new 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine. With 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque available the 5,300-plus pound Bentayga gets to 60 mph (100 kmh) in 4 seconds flat, making it one of the quickest SUVs on the planet. The Bentayga also features a 187 mph (300 kph) top speed, rivaling many ultra-luxury sports cars from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Maserati.
The interior of the Bentayga mirrors what Bentley says must define its vehicles: Ultimate craftsmanship, balance and purity of form featuring best-in-class materials. You get a powerful sense of quality and overall finish once inside the vehicle. Its plush, beautifully stitched leather seating was equally comfortable in the front and rear seats. The Bentayga we tested came equipped with all the bells and whistles, including heated, cooled and reclining seats that also massage rear passengers.
The Bentayga also comes fully-equipped with the latest in technology, something you should probably expect from an SUV starting at $229,000 (Euro 201.600). Its advanced safety systems include a lane departure prevention system that, at times, felt a little invasive but is probably prudent in a world of increasingly distracted drivers. The front infotainment unit is compatible with Apple AAPL +2.14%’s Car Play but not Android Auto; curious given the two removable 10.2″ tablets in the rear, which can be used for browsing the internet, watching movies or doing work, are Android-based.
According to Experian Information Solutions, Bentley sold just under 2,700 vehicles in the U.S. last year. That’s up slightly from the prior year. It may sound small compared with mainstream luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz or even Tesla. But when you own a Bentley, it’s all about exclusivity. That’s why Bentley spends 130 hours hand crafting each Bentayga in Crewe, UK, something mainstream luxury brands can’t afford to do in their race to win the sales crown. And with every premium manufacturer focusing ever-more resources on SUVs the all-new 2017 Bentley Bentayga offers perhaps the most elusive feature around: individuality.