Review: Bentley Bentayga is the benchmark by which all other SUVs are measured

Bringing together outstanding performance and unparalleled levels of luxury on and off-road.

With its W12 petrol engine, Bentayga has redefined what an SUV engine can do (All photos: Bentley Motors)

When the Bentley Bentayga turned the corner and approached the agreed pick-up point where I was to meet this fine British specimen, my heart skipped a beat — all the pictures and press kits in the world could not have prepared me for the sheer presence this car commands. Majestic with sculpted athleticism and confidence, this SUV (sports utility vehicle) is the one to beat all others. The short 12 hours I had with it was far from enough.
First unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015, luxury British carmaker Bentley’s contribution to the SUV market has also been one of its most successful vehicle to date. Sales in the first year easily surpassed the predicted volume of 3,500 units, resulting in an order backlog that stretched into 2017. For its 2018 edition, the SUV’s second production run, the Bentayga has been endowed with several updates — seven-passenger seating, new 21 and 22-inch wheel options, fluted seating, an optional Breitling clock, additional interior colour choices and glossy black exhaust finishers.


The optional Breitling dashboard clock for Bentley Mulliner Tourbillon

The Bentayga boasts an exterior that is reflective of Bentley’s distinctive power line as well as muscular haunches while the interior is utterly luxurious. It takes 130 hours for 53 artisans to handcraft each car, so it is unsurprising that the Bentayga’s cabin is the automotive world’s best — the detailing in wood, leather and metal is the absolute epitome of British luxury. The interior requires a good amount of time to fully appreciate, which I willingly did. Contrast stitching on impossibly soft magnolia-coloured hides, dark fiddleback eucalyptus veneers and luxuriant cream carpeting are not elements that directly contribute to a heightened driving experience, but I am not sure I want to do without any of them anymore.

Something else I do not know if I can live without now is the Bentayga’s event seat, which extends out of its 430-litre boot. The patented sliding and folding seat is trimmed in leather and finished with diamond quilting. In line with the Bentayga’s nature as an family car — meant for exploring — this nifty little addition allows you and your passengers to enjoy a grandstand view, shaded by the tailgate during the day or illuminated by the built-in stage lighting from above at night. On an impromptu trip to Putrajaya, the event seat was the perfect makeshift picnic table.

The Bentayga features a full leather-trimmed interior and pile carpets, both of which come with a choice of 15 colours. Apart from standard and optional exterior paint colours, buyers can also opt for dual-tone colour schemes. In addition, the Mulliner Driving Specification brings Mulliner aesthetics to the Bentayga’s standard interior, which includes diamond-quilted seats, drilled sports pedals and embroidered Bentley emblems. The Mulliner’s bespoke service will also help you create a car that is completely unique, from embroidered family crests on the seats to custom veneers inlaid into the fascia.


The Bentayga features a full leather-trimmed interior and pile carpets, both of which come with a choice of 15 colours

Okay, so how does it drive? Comfortably settled behind the driver’s seat, I am again left with nothing to be desired. The Bentayga is equipped with 6.0 W12 petrol engine with Variable Displacement, and is the most technologically advanced 12cc vehicle in the world with the best combination of power, torque and efficiency found in any SUV. It can go from 0 to 100kph in just 4.1 seconds, a statistic that becomes even more impressive considering that the car’s kerb weighs a whopping 2,440kg. Even if energy efficiency is hardly a factor when you are driving a car with a six-litre engine, Bentley does deliver on this too — it can achieve fuel consumption of 21.6 mpg (13.1 l/100km) and emissions of 296g/km.

Once in gear, the car simply vacuums the miles without the driver even having to furrow her brow —it moves effortlessly, and despite its size, it is very easy to manoeuvre. Even in tight corners and narrow streets, the Bentayga does an extraordinary job of resisting body-roll while staying parallel to the ground, akin to driving a lighter car. That being said, a highway is the best place to really put this old girl to the test, and I apologise profusely to all the drivers on the Port Dickon-Seremban highway that day, who might never completely recover from the sight of the Bentayga headed toward them at top speed in their rear-view mirror.

Although the Bentayga’s engine and gearbox are designed to operate in off-road conditions, including lateral and longitudinal angles of up to 35°, this is not quite the car you would take on escapades into the wilderness. If you do, though, the car’s wheel articulation afforded by active anti-roll bars and its impressive ground clearance provide it the ability to wade through almost 20 inches of water. Okay, maybe not wilderness escapade, but more typical tropical floods in central KL.

The Bentayga’s standard tech offerings include an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment with a navigation system, a 60GB hard drive, SiriusXM satellite radio and a 10-speaker audio system. For passengers, the rear entertainment system features two 10.2-inch displays with two wireless headphones and USB and micro SD ports. During said Putrajaya jaunt, the latter was helpful as my six-year-old — who was buckled in her car seat using the Isofix fixtures — could use her tablet while it was being charged.

Bentley’s customers have been asking for an SUV for a long time, and by taking its time with the Bentayga’s development, the luxury carmaker has done itself a huge service. Through observing other luxury marques’ hits and misses and combining those insights with their own DNA steeped in the rich tradition of British automobile design, the Bentayga more than deserves all the compliments it has received. It is the benchmark by which all other SUVs are measured, Bentley said. Seems about right to us.


The Bentayga’s on-the-road price is RM2,197,756. Contact Bentley Malaysia at (03) 2165 1688 for details.

Follow us on Instagram