First of Its Name

There’s a new king of luxury SUVs—meet the Bentley Bentayga.


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beNTLey beNTayGa SuV MoDel: Suv WItH Four, FIve or Seven SeatS. PerforManCe: 0-60: 4 SecondS; top Speed: 187 MpH. Powertrain: In 4 SecondS; top Speed: 187 MpH. PriCe: $229,100, aS teSted: $311,000.

Way back when bentley and rolls royce were manufactured together, the difference between these quiet luxury sedans was essentially the design of the grill—Rolls with thick vertical bars surrounded by a squared off outer shell, and Bentley with thinner vertical bars with a rounded shell. Performance, while there, was not outstanding and certainly not was emphasized. Silent cruising with your chauffeur was the sought-after image. After the split between the two, Bentley has maintained the luxury theme, but with a power spin.

Now the heresy from the former image goes up another notch with the first Bentley SUV. And this is not your everyday cruiser to take the keiki to the store. Why you ask? Take a look under the hood because there is a 6-liter, 12-cylinder powerplant pumping out 600 horsepower going to all the wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The end result is a zero-to-60 miles-per-hour time of four seconds. And for those commutes, the top speed is 187 miles per hour. Pricing begins at about $230,000 with plenty of options available.

The now famous and new Bentley grill dominates the front with traditional-looking, large, round highlights on either side. Large 21-inch wheels on the flanks supports the performance edge, and a clear SUV roofline completes the styling statement—a good-looking package.

But it is the inside that further separates this Bentley from others: a mix of super-modern and time-honored fixtures. The latter includes a round analog clock in the center of the dash and oval air vents at various locations. But the computer/video age is also well represented. A large touch-video screen has navigation, Bluetooth, smart phone apps, and the stereo functions. A smaller screen in the dash pod provides data with a push of a button on the steering wheel.

But the real attraction is the color and patterns of the leather-lined seats and the general interior. Wood inserts are liberally spread around. A huge sunroof spans the entire roofline.

Rear seat configurations for the interior present some interesting choices. For maximum carrying capacity, seven seats are available. The more normal configuration is the standard five seats. And for the full lavishness spin, four seats are an option.

In the latter mode, a large console separates the two fully adjustable rear seats. On the back of the front seats are wood covered tabletops that can be lowered, and above those video screens can be mounted. A small screen in back of the center console controls the climate system for each passenger. Assisting in that regard are shades at each window that can be easily moved with a push of button.

The rear area, which is accessed with a power lift gate, has an interesting option. Essentially, a very small seat can be moved to the edge of the rear to sit on, facing backwards so that you can observe the polo match in comfort under the tilled up lift gate.

Like its predecessors, this Bentley can maintain the quiet and sedate driving mode, at least, to the extent the driver wishes that result. The engine is essentially silent, and the ride absorbs any uneven or bumpy surface. The eight-speed automatic shifts seamlessly. However, if more performance and control is sought, it is there for the taking. Shifts can be made manually with paddles behind the steering wheel. Acceleration is breathtaking at any speed. The ride, based upon its the air suspension, can be adjusted with buttons on the console with settings for comfort and sport.

With this addition to the lineup, Bentley has recognized that the SUV world is expanding to every automotive level. And in doing so, the Bentayga edition represents one of the pinnacles of luxurious practicality.

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