It seems that every manufacturer is already jumping into or planning to enter the SUV arena, even those who build high-end super cars. Given that, why not build a high-end, high performance super SUV that delivers ultra luxurious appointments at the same time?
Indeed. The 2017 Bentley Bentayga is just such a vehicle. The Bentayga arrived on the scene in 2015 as a 2016 model. The Bentley folks claim the Bentayga to be the world’s fastest production SUV, capable of dusting off the 0-60 mph time to a sliver under the 4-second mark. That of course may change with other super car builders in the big Bentley’s class joining the SUV fray. Its top speed is electronically limited to 187 mph.
The Bentayga features unibody construction, is built at Bentley’s primary factory in Crew, England, and is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform – the same platform used in Audi’s Q7 SUV, the forthcoming third-generation Porsche Cayenne, VW’s Touareg and the Lamborghini Urus, with which the Bentayga shares 20 percent of its parts. Eighty percent of it parts are however unique.
The all-new chassis system enables the Bentayga to pilot luxury to new places with dedicated, height adjustable off-road modes for snow, sand, grass and trails, along with a pioneering 48V active anti-roll control system that virtually does away with on road body roll, allowing for a spirited jaunt over twisty mountain back roads.
The name was inspired by a couple of sources: Tiaga, the world’s largest transcontinental snow forest, with the spelling changed to “Tayga” and led by the first four letters of Bentley; inspiration was also derived from the rugged volcanic peak, Rogue Bentayga on Gran Canaria, a subtropical Canary Island; and in Swahili, Bentayga translates as “carried interest.”
The Bentayga is Bentley’s first production SUV and may be configured to accommodate four, five or seven occupants. It is a full-time all-wheel drive, five-door ultra-luxury, “go anywhere” transport, with its styling cues evolved from the 2012 Bentley EXP 9F concept car, which bowed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September of 2015. Production started two months following, on November 27, 2015.
Power comes from Bentley’s all-new 6.0-liter, 48-valve, twin turbocharged W12 TSI engine with two parallel twin-scroll turbochargers, direct intercooling and combined port injection and direct injection and cylinder deactivation. The longitudinally-mounted engine produces 600 horsepower in a range from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm, while developing a whopping 664 lb-ft of torque from 1,350-4,500 rpm. The engine’s energy reaches the permanent all-wheel drive system with Torsen center differential and open rear differential with Electronic DIFF Lock via a ZF AL952 Eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, but there is no low-range.
The Bentayga’s design is pure Bentley, leading off with the large-matrix honeycomb chrome-mesh grille, which is flanked by the four round LED crystal-like headlights and unique ringed directional signal lights surrounding a body colored insert. The grille features a centerline accent that continues through the hood or bonnet.
The grille surround is in body color and displays the iconic winged Bentley logo. A lower, horizontal mesh air intake emphasizes the Bentayga’s width, positioned above a carbon fiber splitter and flanked by carbon fiber accented fog lamp openings.
The cabin structure begins with a sharply raked windscreen, with the roof gracefully curving downward at the rear topped by a spoiler lip. A chrome surround frames the glass area with blacked out “B” and “C” pillars. The greenhouse ends, tapering rearward. The rear view is not as dramatic as the rest of the vehicle’s elegant and exquisite styling, but still finishes off nicely with a carbon fiber diffuser and twin oval chrome exhaust tips.
In profile, the Bentayga showcases prominent wheel wells housed in pronounced sculpted front and rear fender lines, along with side and shoulder character lines, with a lower chrome strip reaching from wheel to wheel. A carbon fiber lower ground-effect panel also reached from wheel to wheel. The polished 22-inch directional five-spoke alloy wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion rubber hints not so subtly at the car’s performance capability. Seventeen standard exterior colors are available, with a palette of 90 bespoke extended hues.
The interior presents the utmost in luxurious surroundings, boasting one of the world’s finest automotive cabins featuring heightened levels of precision and exquisite detailing, expressed in metal, wood and leather appointments. The driver focused switchgear and controls are intuitive and ergonomically positioned for user friendliness. There are 15 standard hide (leather) interior colors, seven standard veneer choices.
My 2017 Bentley Bentayga presented itself with the main exterior paint in solid Glacier White metallic, with the interior executed in a Camel tone for the main hide and Beluga for the secondary hide. The interior trim accents were done in polished Dark stained Burr Walnut. And the rolling stock consisted of Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires mounted on polished 22-inch five-spoke directional alloy wheels. The base price was set at $229,100, while optional features and equipment increased the final tally by $60,566.68 to $289,666.68 before taxes and license. The extras included body colored lower bodywork – standard paint range, $1,335; contrast stitching, $1,980; hand stitching to steering wheel in contrasting color, $210; four seat comfort specification with rear center console, $11,015; Sunshine specification (full panoramic roof with shade), $2,070; Touring specification, $7,870; Veneer specification for four seat, $2,040; deep pile overmats, front and rear, $495; heated duo-tone, 3-spoke, hide trimmed steering wheel, $455; 22-inch 5-spoke polished alloy wheels, $8,095; Bentayga styling specification (dealer fit accessory), $25,001.68.
The 2017 Bentley Bentayga is obviously not inexpensive, but the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” never held more truth. When you figure it at $54.24 per pound, it certainly seems more palatable. It is one super special SUV. The quilted, hide seats can heat or cool your backside and there are several massage functions as well. There are dual visors – the main extending and illuminated, while the full panoramic sunroof provides a sense of the great outdoors when the shade is retracted.
Acceleration is wickedly potent in any transmission setting, but the Sport mode is the most spirited across the board, pleasingly modifying the shift pattern, steering sensitivity and ride quality, which is stellar. The Bentayga stays planted and flat with a good on-center feel thanks to the electronic power assisted steering with Servoconic Variable Ratio and the self-leveling air suspension with continuous damping control and the choice of drive modes and ride heights. I didn’t take any off-road excursions – why would I with those expensive 22-inch alloy wheels? The Bentayga is certainly capable though and has proven itself, keeping pace with the likes of Jeep Wranglers in challenging off-road scenarios.
There is suite of advanced technologies including: a Head Up Display, Night Vision, Park Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and more. Infotainment and connectivity are state-of-the-art with a touch screen remote for rear cabin control.
All in all, if your pockets are deep enough and you desire what is currently the epitome of luxury, high performance SUVs, the 2017 Bentley Bentayga delivers in spades and the EPA mileage estimates are reasonable with the cylinder deactivation feature – 12 mpg City / 19 mpg Highway, especially considering the Bentayga’s two and a half ton plus mass.
2017 Bentley Bentayga Specifications
|Price As Tested:||$289,666.68|
|Engine:||6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12|
|Horsepower:||600 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm|
|Torque:||664 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm|
|Drivetrain:||Front engine/all-wheel drive|
|EPA fuel mileage:||12 mpg city/19 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity:||22.5 gallons|
|Curb Weight:||5,340 lbs|