Bentley Bentayga SUV review
“If you can afford to buy and run it, the Bentley Bentayga is a seriously swift and luxurious SUV, with a driving experience that belies its size”
- Immensely powerful and quick
- Beautiful build quality
- Excellent handling
- Prodigious thirst
- Looks divide opinion
- Very expensive
The Bentley Bentayga is one of the most expensive SUVs around. To put its price into perspective, you could buy two Porsche Cayennes and still have money left over for a luxury holiday. Or, if you don’t need a brace of Cayennes, you could buy a top-spec Range Rover Autobiography as well as a hatchback for your butler to use when he pops out to buy the papers.
For most buyers, sheer expense puts a Bentley SUV well out of reach, but car enthusiasts of all fiscal means should still be seriously impressed by the engineering that’s gone into the Bentayga. It weighs around two-and-a-half tonnes, but don’t think for a second that its sizable dimensions hold it back, as the twin-turbocharged V8 engine propels the Bentayga V8 from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds before hitting a top speed of 180mph.
A 2020 facelift saw a number of styling revisions, including a tweaked nose featuring higher-mounted headlights and a larger front grille. At the rear of the car, a new circular tail light design was added along with a new tailgate. In the metal, the styling tweaks give the Bentayga a cleaner look that’s still imposing and unmistakably Bentley.
In 2022 the Bentayga EWB – which stands for extended wheelbase – arrived, with 180mm of bodywork added to the middle of the car. This has the sole purpose of increasing the rear seating to VIP proportions, with the option of two airline-style luxury seats in place of the standard three-seat bench.
The facelifted Bentayga was only available in V8 form initially before the range-topping W12-powered Speed and six-cylinder plug-in hybrid models arrived.
The V8 represented the sweet spot of the Bentayga range before the facelift and nothing has changed in the engine department. The V8's power delivery is strong, with plenty of shove available from low revs and, despite the car’s size and weight, its clever air suspension makes the Bentayga surprisingly agile in corners.
The Bentayga grants you access to a world of rich leather, carpet and wool, all impeccably hand-finished. The technology is top-notch, too – although purists might baulk at so many components being obviously shared with the Audi Q7 and Q8 SUVs.
A well-heeled family that wants something a bit more special than a Q7 will find lots to like in the Bentayga. It’s extremely spacious and has an ambience like flying first class – especially in the EWB version – making the Audi Q7 seem a bit ‘premium economy’ in comparison. This does come at the expense of boot space, though – at 484 litres, the Bentayga’s boot is over 100 litres smaller than that of the Range Rover and doesn’t have that car’s split tailgate. The plug-in hybrid has even less boot space. An Event Seat is an optional extra – this slides out to provide a space for two adults to sit under the tailgate, but it takes up lots of boot space and doesn’t seem likely to be used regularly.
The Bentayga isn’t offered with a choice of conventional trim levels: with thousands of possible personalisation touches, every example sold is effectively a bespoke vehicle. Naturally, full leather upholstery and a selection of four wood veneers are standard, along with a glass roof, 10.9-inch infotainment screen with navigation, wi-fi hotspot and LED headlights. Bentley does offer some equipment packs, with its Touring Specification adding adaptive cruise control, night vision and a head-up display, while the All Terrain Specification fits underbody skid plates and a bird's-eye camera to help with off-roading.
While the Bentayga doesn't sell in large enough numbers to allow us to truly rate its reliability, its proven engines and common ancestry with the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne should give owners some reassurances. In the same vein, while the Bentayga might never go through Euro NCAP crash tests, the Q7 has already been awarded five stars.
The Bentayga is an enormously impressive car in V8 petrol form but we still rate the Range Rover SV Autobiography as the ultimate luxury SUV. Buyers after a sportier feel might prefer the Lamborghini Urus or Aston Martin DBX. While an Audi SQ7 offers many of the same mechanicals and performance as a Bentayga, many would say you can’t put a price on the allure of the winged ‘B’ badge, a hand-crafted interior and that uncanny Bentley smoothness. Ultimately, it falls to buyers to decide.