The Bentley Bentayga is the best SUV I’ve ever driven. Then again, it had better be. It costs as much as three new Range Rovers, packs more power than a Ferrari F50 and comes with more luxury features than one of those palaces designed by a dictator, who decrees everything must be solid gold, including the windows.
Before I explain why the Bentayga is the best SUV I’ve ever driven, let’s examine how I got to drive one. This opportunity came courtesy of Morrie’s Luxury Auto, the Bentley dealership in Minneapolis, who replaced the brake pads on my Aston Martin during my cross-country road trip. The delightful people at Morrie’s told me if I ever wanted to review something in their inventory, they could certainly set it up. This was a very nice offer, and it was polite of them to make it. I’m sure they thought I’d stop by in a year or two, the next time I passed through town. Instead, I returned five days later, asking to drive their $250,000 SUV. See the 2017 Bentley Bentayga models for sale near you
Here’s the deal with the Bentley Bentayga, for those of you who haven’t paid much attention so far. This is the new ultimate SUV. It starts at $231,800 with shipping, has 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque and literally giggles when it sees Range Rovers. It laughs openly when it sees G-Wagens. When the Bentayga sees a Nissan Rogue, it collapses in a heaving fit of hilarity.
Why? The Bentayga offers 21 blues. It offers nine blacks. Seventeen golds and browns. Nine greens. Fifteen reds and purples. Sixteen grays and silvers. Twelve whites and beiges. There is a color — this is completely true — called Brodgar. Too dark for you? I completely understand. Fortunately, there’s also a color called Pale Brodgar. And yet, this isn’t the most ridiculous thing about the car.
The most ridiculous thing about this car is a special Breitling clock, available on only four Bentayga units a year, that costs $160,000. That’s $160,000 extra. If you get this clock, you’ll never park your Bentayga without covering up your dashboard with a towel. Other ridiculous options include the $32,000 picnic hamper, with champagne flutes and fine flatware, the $7,500 rear tablets and, my personal favorite, the event seat, which is a quilted leather bench that retracts from the tailgate at the push of a button, allowing you to sit in the back of your Bentayga and enjoy a nice event, such as laughing at Nissan Rogues.
So, you read all this, as I did, and you assume the Bentayga is going to be ridiculous before you ever climb inside. Then, you do climb inside, and you quickly understand why Bernie Madoff decided he’d rather scam all those people than be poor.
Here’s what separates the Bentayga from a plebeian SUV, such as a $120,000 Range Rover: There’s absolutely no cost-cutting. Anywhere. Ever.
Every little switch is made of the finest materials. Every little item, anywhere in view, is finished in beautiful leather with perfect stitching. The inside of the glove box is completely carpeted. Nothing feels cheap, out of place or insufficient, even if you only use it on rare occasions. The sole exception is the hood release, which opens with the same low-class thunk as every other Volkswagen product. Bentley knows its customers.
Then, you turn on the Bentayga, and you quickly discover something else. It has absolutely amazing performance. The Bentayga does 0-to-60 in 4 seconds. It will reach almost 190 miles per hour. These are better numbers than my Aston Martin, and yet, it weighs 5,400 pounds. To put this weight into perspective, take my Aston Martin and add a giraffe. That’s what the Bentayga weighs.
In other words, the Bentayga gives you ridiculous amenities, Range Rover luxury and BMW X5M performance. And it doesn’t quite stop there.
Perhaps the Bentayga’s most unbelievable characteristic — okay, fine, that clock is the most unbelievable characteristic, but this is second — is just how comfortable and serene it is to drive. There must be an incredible amount of sound-deadening material in this vehicle. An amazing amount of engineering must’ve taken place to achieve this feeling of tranquility. Just 30 seconds behind the wheel, and you’ll easily start tuning out undesirables, such as potholes, speed bumps, rough pavement, restaurants with drive-thrus, Android users, mixed-breed dogs, children who attend public school and haircut places that accept walk-ins.
Simply put, the Bentayga is not just a luxury SUV, or a performance SUV or an SUV with an options list longer than the Affordable Care Act. It’s also a cocoon.
A cocoon that can off-road. Although I didn’t actually attempt to actually do any off-roading, since I primarily drove the car around Golden Valley, Minnesota, where the primary off-roading location would’ve been a municipal golf course, I’ve seen pictures of the Bentayga with one wheel in the air, crossing some steep, inhospitable terrain. Surely, these pictures were taken during a press drive, since no actual customer will ever attempt this.
So, how does the Bentayga justify its $250,000 price tag? Essentially by offering everything. Ultra-upscale amenities, beyond what you can get in any other SUV. The interior quality of a Range Rover. The performance of a BMW X5M. Legitimate off-roading capabilities. The serenity of a Rolls-Royce. And, of course, one other important component, the ability to brag about buying an SUV that costs $250,000.
And the ability to order it in Brodgar. Find a 2017 Bentley Bentayga for sale
MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
I Drove My Aston Martin 6,522 Miles Across the Country and Back With No Problems
Land Rover Discovery: Paris Auto Show
Flareside Was a Really Weird Pickup Truck Thing for a Long Time