The Bentley Bentayga allowed diversification for the prestigious British brand, as its first ever SUV. When it arrived, it was a trailblazer for high-end luxury SUVs and was virtually unchallenged at its price point.
How does the Bentayga stand out among vehicles where price is no object? For the 2021 model year, Bentley has refreshed the exterior and upgraded the entertainment system. The changes are subtle but, to be honest, the Bentayga hardly needed more power or luxury touches to stay relevant among such it’s affluent rivals.
The exterior had some alterations to bring it in line with the Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Flying Spur, with a larger, more upright grille, elliptical front and rear lights, a larger rear wing and a more aggressive stance.
Visually, in particular, the overall shape is the same as before, minor details have been fiddled with in some areas and overhauled in others, the new lights being the most noticeable. Where the Bentayga launched with a passing resemblance to a Continental GT, its mid-life update saw it don the head and taillights of its coupe cousin with much less subtlety.
Once you’ve moved past the lights, there are neater touches. A 20mm increase in the rear track improves the Bentayga’s stance while improving its handling, there are new alloy wheel designs and those spangly new headlights use cut-crystal to make them sparkle even when they’re not lit. When they are, their intensity changes with the speed you’re driving to avoid dazzling other road users while still illuminating quiet country lanes.
Bentley understands luxury. It knows that luxury is not overloading it’s cars with technology, a mistake many of its adversaries keep making. Technology plays a role in luxury, but interior quality, design, and space play a much more significant role. There isn’t a single piece of imperfect trim to be found here.
You’ve a choice of four, five or seven seats. No matter which configuration you choose, front-seat passengers always receive plenty of space in their leather-wrapped thrones. You’ll likely have the ultra-plush four-seater if you’re being chauffeured around, in which case you’ll be enjoying an extra 10cm of legroom compared to the old Bentayga. You can’t have seven seats in the Hybrid because the batteries get in the way.
If you’re using the five seat version though, the facilities differ a little. The front seats are sublime, offering a wide variety of adjustments and massage modes. Rear passengers are less well off, While these seats offer reclining and heating, they miss out on the massaging and ventilation functions found in the four-seat configuration.This option deletes the middle seat and the ability to fold the seats flat in favor of a center console but adds power adjustment and comfort. But Bentley’s new rear-seat entertainment system is much easier to use and should keep the little ones entertained. Bentaygas have never felt quite as special as a Continental or Flying Spur inside, with more VW Group-familiar displays and switchgear.
But car enthusiasts can simply sit back and enjoy the interior that takes days rather than minutes to assemble.
All Bentaygas use an eight-speed ZF gearbox, transferring power to a permanent all-wheel-drive system. A 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged V6 powers the new Bentayga Hybrid. Bentley now relies on hybridization for better fuel economy and emissions results. Combined with the 94kW electric motor, the total system output is 443 hp and 701 Nm of torque. Bentley claims it will get to 96kmph in 5.2 seconds, but that’s hardly important in the economic model.
Let’s deal with the question of weight first. Yes, at 2,626kg this is the heaviest Bentayga of them all, weighing even more than the flagship Bentayga W12 Speed. So with that in consideration, the fact that with a mere 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol V6 under the bonnet, it can accelerate itself to 100Kmph in 5.5secs is pretty impressive.
Bentley’s all-new hybrid model uses a 17.3 kWh lithium battery, supplying power to a 94 kW Electric Motor, which produces 350 Nm of torque by itself. This motor is housed within the transmission, nestled neatly between the gearbox and the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 up front. You can drive in electric-only mode for around 48 kilometers, at speeds of up to 135kmph. Fortunately, it’s not all about efficiency. The electric motor also plays a torque-filling role, it gives instant power between the gaps in internal combustion engines.
The Hybrid has its advantages – namely, the ability to drive on electric power for up to 48 kilometers – and is worth looking at if you want to run your Bentayga as a company car or a daily driver.
The Bentayga remains absurdly neat to drive given its 5m-by-2m size and 2.4-tonne kerb weight. The extra width in its rear track has sharpened up the steering a bit and reduced another ounce of effort from its already relaxed driver. Choose to travel at a sedate pace and it’s so easy-going, the handful of semi-autonomous driver aids feel utterly superfluous.
The Bentley’s V6 engine delivers effortless performance, though it takes a heavy throttle to access. The accelerator pedal requires a substantial amount of pressure before the drivetrain responds; Bentley’s engineers likely programmed it this way to ensure maximum smoothness, so it is considered a feature rather than a complaint. Once prompted, the Bentayga makes the scenery pass by rapidly without disturbing the ambiance in the cabin.
Adding to the drivetrain’s smoothness is a mild-hybrid system, which improves the stop-start function and provides with the extra oomph. The Bentayga engages the mild-hybrid system to power the Bentley Dynamic Ride suspension, which counteracts the body to roll through the corners. This SUV truly defies physics with its handling, remaining flat and level even when swivelled through a bend at obnoxious speeds.
When you have deep pockets, the Bentley Bentayga is one of the most luxurious SUVs money can buy you. Overall, considering its premium interior and phenomenal riding experience and its ability to make a Range Rover look a bit mid range, it might be one of the best eco friendly SUV options.