We recently spent 36 hours living with a Bentley Bentayga. Our loaner car was a pearly white and instantly earned the nickname “Beluga”. Going in, it was a car I wanted to hate. It represents just about everything I try to avoid when choosing a preferred mode of transportation. It is huge, heavy, and about as subtle as a Kardashian. At the end of 36 hours, Mrs. SSO and I were giving the acquisition of the giant Bentley serious consideration.
Climbing into the driver’s seat of the Bentley Motor’s tactical attempt to siphon off a piece of the highly profitable SUV segment is akin to falling into a Louis Vuitton handbag. Autos simply do not come any better screwed together than the “Beluga”. The quilted leather is superb and the wood trim perfect. The view across the dashboard and out over the hood instilled an instant “Titan of Industry” feeling and an immediate stiffening of the backbone. The infotainment system was fairly intuitive to set up and the handling settings easy to navigate. The seats are immensely comfortable and legroom all around is more than generous. Luggage space is better than that in a Porsche Cayenne but far from the vastness offered in the average large American SUV.
One prod of the highly polished starter button and the massive W12 purrs obediently to life. The ride and handling are actually better than expected. The big Bentley doesn’t have that “detached from the road, floatness” that the Mulsanne exhibits and the steering wheel feels like it is directly linked to the front wheels. While not exactly a sports car, the Bentayga does go where you point it and for something the size of yacht, is fairly easy to place on the road. Where it really impresses though is in what happens when you flex your right ankle. Mash the accelerator and it goes like an elephant shot out of a cannon. I tried this at a traffic light with an unsuspecting Corvette pulled up alongside and literary left him inhaling Beluga exhaust with quite the stunned look on his face. If the Porsche Cayenne Turbo is the silly fast standard for a SUV, the Bentley is not far off the pace.
What Bentley has accomplished with the Bentayga is hugely impressive. It is enjoyable to drive, pleasant just to spend time in, and with a build quality that is unsurpassed. The fact that it can go like stink and handles well for a car half its size is icing on the cake.