Bentley Reveals 2017 Bentayga SUV in Full
187-mph SUV Claims Many Superlatives, According to Company
Bentley announced full details for the 2017 Bentayga SUV, marking the first time the company has entered the crossover segment. Bentley claims the Bentayga will be the most luxurious, exclusive SUV in the world, and we already know it’s the fastest.
Underpinning the highest Bentley is a platform not unlike that of the new Audi Q7 and upcoming Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg. However, setting the Bentayga apart from the utterly pathetic commoners is the company’s all-new W-12 engine, displacing 6.0 liters. With 600 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque, the Bentayga outguns all of the world’s most powerful SUVs, including the 550hp Range Rover Sport SVR, 567hp BMW X5 M,and 570hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. However, unlike those blitzkriegers (sorry, Range Rover), the Bentley is more of a grand-touring machine in the vein of the Mulsanne and Flying Spur sedans it closely resembles.
The similarities begin with the styling. As on most Bentleys from the past 200 years, the Bentayga gets four headlamps, but modern Bentleys are incorporating some slipstream into their designs, so the two smaller, outboard lights are mounted well back on the windswept front fenders. As on the Mulsanne and Flying Spur, the Bentayga’s bodysides swell with muscle, and the SUV’s rear fenders have a more prominent bulge than any modern Bentley aside from the company’s Le Mans racing cars. That rear haunch is part of the automotive world’s largest single-piece aluminum stamping.
Mercifully, the Mulsanne’s rocker-panel–mounted engine vent has been abandoned, in favor of a subtle fender vent. Deep side sculpting keeps the high-waisted SUV from looking too bulbous, and large, square taillamps and a well-integrated ducktail spoiler underneath the rear window dominate the rear view. Overall, the slope-backed SUV is stylish enough, but the front end leaves us wanting a bit for some more traditional headlights. At least the brand-signature mesh grille keeps things looking appropriately English.
Inside, expect plenty of cowhide, sheepskin, and tree bark, along with genuine metal accents. Bentley’s split-wing interior design motif is in full force here as well, although somehow, the massive SUV’s dashboard looks lower than that of the Continental GT’s. Bentley’s expansive library of leather colors, wood finishes, and carpet choices ensure hundreds of different interior combinations, and no matter the design choices, all Bentaygas come standard with a panoramic sunroof, hands-free tailgate, ski hatch, and 18-way adjustable rear seats. Up front, passengers get an additional four directions of seat adjustment. Unreal.
Bentley claims a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds for its SUV, which is eclipsed by those aforementioned performance crossovers from other European competitors. None of them can touch its 187-mph top speed, however, and the Bentayga uses both port and direct fuel injection to maximize efficiency and lower emissions. Start-stop and multi-displacement technologies also decrease fuel consumption, likely motivated by prospective owners’ environmental concerns rather than economical ones. Bentley estimates the Bentayga will reach 20 mpg on the highway, surpassing economy of nearly every hyper-luxury SUV. The future of the Bentayga likely includes a gas-electric hybrid, a plug-in, and maybe even a diesel.
An eight-speed automatic transmission routes power to all four wheels, although a low-range transfer case isn’t available. We’re sure no one cares, but for those who genuinely miss a low range in their $200,000 SUV, Bentley offers a few systems to soften the blow. Hill-descent control, multimode traction control, and electronic stability control help keep the wheels turning, and an adjustable air suspension maximizes ground clearance. Bentley is keen to point out that the Bentayga will be genuinely capable off-road, and we’re sure it’ll meet most customers’ needs just fine.
The Bentayga’s deliveries will begin early next year, and although pricing has yet to be announced, it’s almost definitely going to be more than the $215,800 Bentley charges for the Flying Spur W12 sedan. That will make the Bentayga the most expensive SUV in the world, surpassing the Range Rover SVAutobiography, which starts at around $15k less.
For now, the Bentayga and SVAutobiography will the the only superlux SUVs on the market, but that will change within the next few years with the arrival of the Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce “Project Cullinan.” Until then, we bet Bentley will be capitalizing on the relative lack of competition as much as it can, hyping the Bentayga for all it’s worth.