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Bentley's first entry into the booming SUV segment is the Bentayga, a model that offers the luxury the British brand is known for in a off-roader package brawny enough to hold its own on the trail.
What is it?
A distant cousin of the Audi Q7, the Bentayga is an ultra-luxurious off-roader that can be configured with five, four, or seven seats. It's also one of the fastest, most powerful SUVs on the market.
Designers attempted to reach a balance between sportiness and SUV presence, while making the Bentayga instantly recognizable as a Bentley. It carries several trademark features including a large grille, B-shaped wing vents, and floating LED headlights.
The Bentley "powerline" and the rear haunch are the biggest single-piece aluminum pressing in the automotive industry. Widespread use of the lightweight material helped engineer save 520 pounds, which boosts fuel economy and driving dynamics.
As you'd rightfully expect from a car with a Bentley emblem on the trunk lid, the Bentayga feels like a palace on four wheels. The cabin is appointed with the softest leathers on the market, beautiful contrast stitching, and acres of wood trim that's mirror-matched for consistency.
The default configuration includes two individual front seats and a rear bench with room for three. Buyers who want to up the luxury quotient can order individual rear seats that are heated, cooled, and boast a recline function. Available picnic tablets integrated into the front seat backs accentuate the first class feeling. Alternatively, the five-seater Bentayga is available with a third-row seat best left to small children.
A large touch screen mounted on the center console groups the Bentayga's connectivity, entertainment, and navigation functions into a single easy-to-use unit. The graphics are above average, and there's not much of a learning curve involved with the system. Apple CarPlay connectivity is available, but note Android Auto doesn't work in the Bentayga.
Bentley's trick 48-volt suspension system ensures the body stays flat even under hard cornering, a trait appreciated by both drivers and passengers.
The Bentayga's heart is a mighty, twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine. It delivers 600 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Bentayga hits 60 mph from a stop in four seconds flat, and it goes on to a top speed of 187 mph. The eight-speed automatic can be left in drive, or the driver can select gears manually using shift paddles mounted on the back side of the steering wheel.
Bentley added a start/stop system, but fuel economy checks in 12 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 15 mpg on a combined cycle. You didn't think this was a Prius, did you?
With that said, buyers seeking fuel economy can order the Bentayga with a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 engine tuned to produce 542 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 568 pound-feet of torque between 1,950 and 4,500 rpm. The eight-cylinder shifts through the same eight-speed automatic transmission as the W12.
Bentley will add a gasoline-electric hybrid engine to the line-up in the coming months.
Standard and optional features
The long list of standard features includes an air suspension, a choice of 17 exterior paint colors, 21-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, LED lighting, chrome trim all around, embroidered Bentley emblems on the seats, burr walnut veneer, a leather headliner, alloy pedals, an eight-inch touch screen with a 60GB hard drive, navigation, voice command technology, and a 10-speaker sound system.
The list of options includes 22-inch alloys, an electronically-retracting tow bar, veneered picnic tables, a heated steering wheel, a signature audio system, a rear-seat entertainment system, ambient lighting, a hands-free tailgate, and a Breitling clock with a mother of pearl face. Buyers can also work with Bentley's Mulliner division to create a one-of-a-kind Bentayga.
Every Bentayga comes with front, side, and curtain airbags in addition to driving aids like electronic traction control.
Buyers looking to spend over a quarter of a million dollars on an SUV should look at the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Alternatively, they can also look at a fully-loaded Mercedes-Benz G-Class or Land Rover Range Rover.