2017 Bentley Bentayga Test Drive and Review

The first super luxury SUV

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Mesirow, Tod. "2017 Bentley Bentayga Test Drive and Review." ThoughtCo, Apr. 6, 2016, thoughtco.com/2017-bentley-bentayga-review-4022726. Mesirow, Tod. (2016, April 6). 2017 Bentley Bentayga Test Drive and Review. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/2017-bentley-bentayga-review-4022726 Mesirow, Tod. "2017 Bentley Bentayga Test Drive and Review." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/2017-bentley-bentayga-review-4022726 (accessed September 26, 2017).
2017 Bentley Bentayga
2017 Bentley Bentayga. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

Recently, I was handed the key (not a traditional key, as all modern premium vehicles have largely done away with actual keys) to the new 2017 Bentley Bentayga. I stepped up and slid behind the wheel of the luxury car company’s first SUV. It is packed with twin turbos, a 12-cylinder engine, and a price tag north of the average price of a single family home last year.

Does it matter what it costs? Yes, it does matter.

And even if only a few can afford it, it’s worth knowing the MSRP is $231,825 to be precise.  Like all cars at a certain level – the ones above my pay grade – extras can quickly push the price up a five-figure or even a six-figure amount.  The engine has 12 cylinders, in a W configuration, and not a V. It’s a Bentley engine, designed and built in Crewe, England.  Gas mileage for such an engine and a not-small car isn’t bad, really.  They report 14.9 mpg Urban, and 29.4 mpg Extra urban – is how the Bentley phrasing goes.  The words may mean the same thing as City and Highway – but they’re Bentley’s words. In the same way, perhaps their thinking goes, it is an SUV, but it’s a Bentley SUV.  Combined mileage is 21.6 mpg. Each Bentley comes with a three-year warranty, without any mileage limit.

Seating is for either four or five people – depending on the configuration of the second row of seats you order.

The rear cargo area is sizable, with plenty of room for a few show dogs, polo equipment, or yachting gear. Or boxes from Costco. Because really – if you own this car, wouldn’t you want to drive it everywhere? There’s no mileage limit on the warranty, after all.

The name comes from a rugged three-peaked mountaintop in the Canary Islands – the Roque Bentayga.

The experience is the exact opposite of roughing it. From the moment the solid door closes, and one of the vehicle’s systems automatically sucks it tight, to the push button start, the Bentayga oozes luxury, comfort, and power. There’s no question this is something new in the world of SUVs. Every detail is telling your every sense that you are now separate and apart from the rest of the world.

The sound of money is silence.

There is no rattle, there is no engine whine, there is no traffic noise outside of my rolling exoskeleton.  There is the soothing calm, the hushed tones I equate with the announcers of a golf match, the perfect attention paid just before the moment the conductor lowers his baton and the symphony begins, or the serenity of a wood-paneled, oriental rug laden, fireplace crackling, scotch in a crystal glass, deep leather chaired room.  I’m settling in nicely.

And then we’re on the road, a nice windy country road outside of – where else – Santa Barbara, a beautiful part of the world. There are hash marks down the middle of the two lane road, signifying the option to pass the slow small something in front of me. Which I do – with the aplomb of complete confidence in the 600-horsepower engine, which kicks in with a firm but smooth burst of power.

And just like that we’re out, back, and around the car that had been in front of us.  Aaahh.

There is some fancy action going on with the suspension. The Bentayga has a computer controlled air suspension that can be manually adjusted up or down. To tame the normal pitch and roll sometimes experienced in an SUV with a high center of gravity, Bentley’s invented their own “electric active roll control technology” that feeds inputs from sensors in the wheels into a dedicated computer, which controls electric rotary actuators built in to the anti-roll bars – which means the system adjusts for the normal lean that’s felt as the vehicle whips through turns, keeping things inside the car more level. For some reason I’m reminded of an old Saturday Night Live spoof of a car commercial where a mohel performs a circumcision in the back seat of a fancy new car.

 Taking the Bentayga a bit hard into some corners on those curvy mountain roads does seem to happen with more grace and balance than might be the case of similar-sized SUVs.  Either way, it sounds like serious new technology, and may help a buyer justify the serious price.

Competitors? Maybe there are a few. Maserati has revealed its new Levante. Spies have spotted the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, rumored to be sailing in 2017. Land Rover’s Range Rover SVAutobiography piles every option onto an already luxurious platform. It would be a mistake to overlook the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, and the Mercedes-Benz’s AMG G65 SUV is a tough-looking take on the luxury SUV.

There’s a certain feeling you get when you step in to any car, step through the door of any car. We’re wrapped in steel with contained explosions taking place in front of us. We’re extending our ability to traverse the planet. And the feeling in the Bentayga is pretty nice. Really nice. Okay it feels like another dimension. I’m becoming quite accustomed to it. Amazing how easily that can happen.

And then my wife texts me and asks “are you returning to the 99%?” Of course, I did.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. For more information, see our .