At the heart of the 2017 Bentley Bentayga is its engine. Other SUV's might make due with 6- or 8-cylinder engines, but nothing so pedestrian powers the Bentayga. Underneath the hood sits a 6.0L W12 engine fed by two turbochargers, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels. Speaking of which, Bentley claims the sophisticated but huge engine makes 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes less than 4 seconds; reminding everyone on board that Bentley have won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race on more than one occasion.
Picking out the right Bentayga is an exercise that can easily take up one's entire afternoon. So many options and colors are available for the big SUV that it's easy to get lost amongst the features list. And of course the standard features are just on this side of ridiculous. Virtually every car sold in the last forty years comes with a sound system with at least four speakers and at least a 100-watt amp. The Bentayga also has a sound system-- it has 20 speakers and a 1950-watt amp. Not surprisingly, Bentley claims it's the most powerful stereo ever sold in an SUV. Other cars might have a rear seat entertainment system, but the Bentayga has two 10.2-inch screens set into the headrests that are removable and can be used as tablets. There's also a touchscreen remote located between the rear seats to control that infotainment system.
The Bentayga is available in three distinct specifications, Touring, City and All-Terrain. All-Terrain Bentaygas come with a couple of unique driving modes, including a Mud and Trail mode and a Sand mode. Another nice little feature on the All-Terrain is a sump camera that could prove invaluable in helping the driver to avoid bottoming out on while off-roading. A compass, an altimeter and various other off road spec gauges come standard on the All-Terrain.
City specification includes Park Assist functions and a top view camera to make parking the admittedly large SUV significantly easier. The City specification also has the ability to detect traffic signs, displaying speed limits and other signs in the dashboard where the driver can see them. The City specification also has additional features to help avoid fender benders in urban areas. The Bentayga has an audible pedestrian warning system that will beep if someone steps into the vehicle's path, applying emergency braking if necessary.
The Touring specification adds adaptive cruise control and lane assist functions to the Bentayga. The adaptive cruise control can even be used in heavy traffic, allowing the Bentayga to come to a complete stop and then accelerate again as traffic allows. A night vision system can also warn drivers of potential hazards lurking beyond the view of the headlights.
Ironic as it might seem, luxury automakers are very often the best at pulling off the whole "less is more" thing. So often, it's the less-powerful, less-expensive versions of superlative automobiles that I enjoy most. The Bentley Bentayga SUV is a perfect example.
Two years after its introduction, the Bentayga is no longer an exclusively 12-cylinder affair. A plug-in hybrid is on the horizon, and buyers outside the US are treated to a torque-tastic diesel option.
But it's the gasoline V8 option tested here that I find particularly enticing. With strong power, and a sound and character all its own, this engine transforms the big Bentayga into a more rewarding driver's car. Bentley's SUV isn't perfect, mind you, but it's certainly no fault of its V8.
The Good An athletic V8 gives the Bentayga more on-road verve, and inside, you've got the sort of luxury you'd expect from a proper Bentley.
The Bad It's ugly, the infotainment tech is outdated and I'm not really sure it's worth the $165,000 asking price.
The Bottom Line A robust V8 gives Bentley's SUV some newfound athleticism without any sacrifices in luxury and refinement. It's absolutely the Bentayga to have.
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