Three years ago, Bentley unveiled the EXP 9 F Concept, their take on an SUV. Riddled with bulbous lines and a harsh front-end design, the SUV received plenty of disdain from the media and fans. The EXP 9 F’s proportions made it seem like all Bentley designers did was put a one-foot lift on the suspension and add extra sheet metal underneath to fill the gap. It was a far cry from the low-slung style of the Continental and the rest of Bentley’s lineup.
Thankfully, in the three years since the EXP 9 F, Bentley did what Bentley does best, and refined every nook and cranny of the original concept. It’s still clear where the Bentayga came from, but the reworked front end and further-developed rear gate has produced an SUV more worthy of being called a Bentley than the concept that proceeded it.
The interior experience is pure Bentley — a bath of hand-carved wood and metal trimmings with the finest diamond-quilted leather covering every other surface. Top-notch creature comforts include a full-length panoramic sunroof, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a 60GB hard drive, a removable 10.2-inch Android-based Bentley tablet, wi-fi and Bluetooth, a diamond-inlaid Breitling clock, and your choice of three available audio systems. But if you’re already in the market for a Bentley SUV, priced just north of $225,000, tick the box for the 18-speaker 1,950-watt unit from Naim — arguably the Bentley of sound systems.
To haul all that oak and ore around, Bentley fitted the Bentayga with an all-new 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 engine, good for a swell of 600 horsepower and 663 lb-ft. That power plant allows Bentley to claim the Bentayga is “the fastest, most powerful, and most exclusive SUV in the world.” And with a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph, along with Linley china, crystal glassware and a champagne cooler in the rear, no one is arguing.