2017 Bentley Bentayga W12 Road Test Review

By : Trevor Hofmann
  Reportedly HM Queen Elizabeth II was Bentley’s first Bentayga W12 customer, lofty company indeed. Of course, her outdated Range Rover wouldn’t be quick enough to escort the corgis to Sandringham, so the new 600-hp ultra-SUV will take charge of such duties. It’s certainly fit for a queen, the leathers, woods, metals and top-tier features as opulent as modern-day conveyances get. It won’t allow her to get stuck in country muck either, its 4-wheel drivetrain fully capable off-road. Enjoy our detailed review of the well-appointed Bentayga W12 now.......
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
         
 
If you want to make a splash while pulling up at your kids' private school, this is the SUV you need. Nothing shows you've arrived
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
like a Bentley grille, and the fact that it now graces a full size family hauler says as much about a rejuvenated Bentley brand as it does about the person behind the wheel.

Whether you see it as the best thing that ever happened to the SUV or the worst moment in Bentley's long and storied existence, the Bentayga marks a significant change in the way this ultra-premium British brand goes about business. Up until this year it's solely been in the car game, but we've seen this saga play out so many times now we shouldn't be at all surprised when yet another classic marque seemingly sells its soul for profit. Let's never forget these companies are mostly subsidiaries of much larger multinationals and therefore tradition is only sacrosanct
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
to the point that progress doesn't interfere with brand equity, and these days that latter attribute is as much about selling fragrances, wristwatches, and leather goods as it is about vehicles.

When premium SUVs initially entered the picture at the end of the '90s certain brand fans cried foul, not so much those that admired Lexus' dependability but rather those who revered BMW's performance. Enthusiasts couldn't understand why the Bavarian carmaker needed an X5 when it already owned Land Rover, but within a year that blue and white roundel-badged SUV singlehandedly outsold all the British brand's models combined and the rest, including LR's future sale to Ford and then Tata in a bundle with Jaguar, is history. On that note a similar scenario
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
is playing out yet again this very year with the introduction of Jaguar's F-Pace; the only JLR model still outpacing it on the sales chart being the Range Rover Sport. So if a brand doesn't have an SUV in its arsenal yet, expect that to change shortly.

There's a positive spin on all this that even SUV-haters will appreciate. SUV profits pay for some pretty awesome sports cars that might never have seen light otherwise. In BMW's case we can look to the beautiful Z8 and new i8, while Porsche's Cayenne funded the sensational Carrera GT and new 918 Spyder. No doubt strong Bentayga sales freed Bentley Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Durheimer to heavily hint at a production version of the gorgeous two-seat EXP 10 Speed
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
6 Concept last June, reportedly dubbed Barnato after one of the 1920s "Bentley Boys" Joel Woolf Barnato, a fabulously wealthy British financier and racing driver who took the checkered flag three times consecutively at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928, 1929 and 1930, while concurrently chairing Bentley Motors. No doubt Woolf would approve of the Bentayga.

I suppose I should lend a little insight into the name Bentayga now that I've waxed on about the Barnato. Being that Bentley has zero historical references to pull from for its first-ever SUV (other than a Continental GT Speed that Top Speed's James May and Kris Meeke took through a rally stage in Wales a few years ago), the powers that be in Crewe reportedly created a name by combining the
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
first four letters of Bentley with taiga, a Russian word for the northernmost portions of its boreal "snow" forest where the tree line meets the more barren tundra biome, which would be an ideal setting for testing the Bentayga's 4x4 mettle. The spelling appears to be pulled from Roque Bentayga in Gran Canaria, however, the third tallest peak on the Northwest African subtropical island. This said I've saved the best for last, as Bentayga also means "carried interest" in Swahili, and you'll have to pay bucket loads of that if you plan on financing this $266,090 SUV.

Steep mountains and vast tracks of open wilderness are likely what Bentley had in mind, and the Bentayga appears to be capable of great feats of off-road prowess. It's based on well-proven Volkswagen Tiguan and Porsche Cayenne underpinnings after
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
all, albeit the longer PL73 platform architecture currently used by Audi's Q7, but I'm willing to guess only rich kids dune racing in the Gulf States will attempt any raucous activity. You'll likely only ever see one getting dirty at Bentley's off-road testing facility in Northern Spain, and if you don't get to that part of the world very often there are plenty of vids showing the SUV's tougher side online. If equipped with the standard Drive Dynamics Mode system's Responsive Off-Road Setting it can boast the widest range of on- and off-road modes of any vehicle period, with up to eight dedicated settings made available by twisting a console-mounted dial. Also worth mentioning, its engine is even designed to pump oil at steep 35-degree angles.  

My time spent with the world's most premium SUV was limited to two on-road stints, one purely about the drive that occurred during a particularly nasty downpour,
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
which I thought was ideal for a vehicle that can go most anywhere yet will be more appreciated during the types of inclement weather most of Canada is currently experiencing, and the second time for the purposes of taking all the photos seen here, which not only gave me a second drive in the dry, but also allowed me plenty of time to contemplate its styling in the metal, poke around inside, and take notes.

There's no shortage of chrome up front, while this particular example featured the Bentley Styling Specification and was therefore upgraded with a stunning carbon fibre air splitter below, CFRP half shells on mirror caps, and the same lightweight material used for the rear rooftop spoiler. By this point I expected to see more CFRP
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
surrounding the tailpipes, diffuser style, but no such luck as my tester's rear bumper was more modestly finished in matte metallic grey.

The Bentayga's outward design is bold in the true sense of the overused word, yet there's a certain elegance to this mammoth hulk of an SUV as well, especially the way the classic Bentley grille melds into the sculpted hood's distinctively tapering domed lines, and how the full-LED quad headlamps gently curve overtop the gracefully shaped front fenders, these latter items attractively accented with Bentley's now trademark stylized "B" engine vents just ahead of each front door. Moving rearward a lovely fender line begins down by the rockers before bending upward around each wheel cutout, after which it fades away where the liftgate integrated
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
spoiler and LED taillights converge. Large optional 21-inch twinned five-spoke alloys round out the design; these finished with 285/45 Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-seasons. My first example was Beluga black with caramel brown Newmarket Tan hides, while the one used for photos is finished in classy Glacier White paint with a much livelier Hot Spur red interior.

As one would expect the cabin is beautifully detailed, with almost every surface covered in the highest quality of contrast-stitched leathers. While my first loaner was fitted with Dark Stained Burr Walnut, my second featured Piano Black lacquered hardwood, but keep in mind near limitless trims, interior colour combos and exterior paint finishes are available. The flashier red interior contrasted the black
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
lacquered inlays with brushed metal trim on the centre stack, whereas the door inserts boasted fabulous diamond quilted leather to mirror the seat inserts, which were also perforated for cooling.

Some of my favourite elements were the optional "naim for Bentley" speaker grilles, albeit more for the system's superbly crafted sound than the sharply dressed metal covers. A total of 20 speakers include two super tweeters, nine mid-range/tweeter combos, four advanced bass speakers, a 300-watt self-powered sub and others, not to mention active bass transducers (seat shakers), all powered by 1,920 watts and 21 channels of audiophile bliss, resulting in the widest frequency range ever produced in a vehicle. Of course you can control it via steering wheel switchgear, some of this even made from knurled metal,
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
while the beautifully stitched leather wheel does a suitable job framing Bentley's classic dual-dial primary gauge cluster, its centre now filled with a high quality colour multi-information display that even incorporates graphic mapping for the navigation system.

Speaking of upscale detailing, the Bentayga's climate control interface is exquisitely finished with large rotating dials integrating digital readouts at centre for setting and monitoring temperatures. Just above is Bentley's latest infotainment system sourced from VW AG, which is a very good thing because Volkswagen now offers one of the best of its type available. It comes complete with a high resolution eight-inch colour touchscreen that includes tablet-style tap, pinch and swipe capability, as well as proximity-sensing controls that pop up at the
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
bottom of the screen when your fingers get near, plus the system is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capable, not to mention is filled with most other features and apps.

As you can imagine some of the Bentayga's cabin finery is completely over the top, with as yet unmentioned highlights being its substantive metal paddle shifters, my first tester's optional knurled metal shift knob, the big circular metal vents across the instrument panel, the polished metal organ stops used to control them, and the wonderfully discrete black-faced Breitling electric clock at dash central. Of note, that's an option, as is an exquisitely handcrafted white-faced Breitling Mulliner Tourbillon dash clock available for a cool £110,000 sterling, which converted to $183,270 CAD at the time of writing. Those into horology will probably agree it's worth every penny, other than the famed Watch Snob who says he'd rather "quit this mortal world" than wear a Breitling. That was before modern-day Breitling (now owned by Swatch
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
group) created its own in-house calibre B01 and B04 movements, which have now been topped off with a $175k USD ($230k CAD) Breitling for Bentley Mulliner Tourbillon wristwatch and this similarly complicated mantle clock, for use of a better term. I happen to love the latter regardless of the Watch Snob's sentiments, but he does get my nod of agreement with respect to some of that Swiss watchmaker's more garish designs.

Fanciful as it may be, the Bentayga is downright utilitarian in comparison, which is exactly how an SUV should be. Its front seating area, filled with available 22-way powered perches, is spacious and superbly supportive in all the right ways, while the second row of my five-seat example was commodious for what is essentially a large mid-size sport utility by North American
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
standards. It can be had in four- and seven-seat configurations too, the former "Four Seat Comfort Specification with Rear Centre Console" incorporating individual rear buckets that adjust 18 ways while both ventilating and massaging like my tester's did up front, although the optional rear seat package features raised footrests below.

Such is for the owner who wants to be driven, not most Canadians who prefer to chart their own course. Then again I've driven in populous Asian and South American cities, not to mention New York City and Los Angeles, and therefore can appreciate the need for a good driver in order to arrive at one's destination refreshed and get something done along the way, as well as the benefit of an SUV to overcome ridiculously deep driveway entrances or travel on a road's shoulder while skirting around slower moving traffic that almost always hogs the centre lanes.

Here
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
in Canada we have strictly regimented road rules that are mostly followed by well-trained obedient drivers, and therefore when that previously noted big Bentley grille fills the entirety of someone's rearview mirror they oftentimes move out of the way and let you past. This said those Canadian regulations make the Bentayga's most advantageous benefit a moot point, that being its outrageously potent twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine, a 600 horsepower beast that whips up 664 pound-feet of torque before pushing it through an eight-speed automatic with manual mode and paddles plus the aforementioned advanced all-wheel drivetrain on its way to 100 kilometres per hour in a scant 4.1 seconds and an ultimate top speed of 301 km/h (187 mph).

All of that power is kept in check via much of the Audi Q7's rolling hardware as well
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
as Bentley's industry-first 48-volt powered Dynamic Ride adaptive and reactive suspension system with variable torsional resistance, an undercarriage that instantly counteracts the hefty machine's natural inclination to roll laterally so that such body lean is nearly non-existent while ride quality is never disturbed, the majority of the Bentayga's sizeable tire tread patch kept in contact with pavement and therefore sensational handling ensuing. All this fun is reined in with massive disc brakes at each corner, amply powerful for multiple full-force applications with little detectable fade. That it can do all this despite being a 2,440-kilogram four-door SUV, and simultaneously remain fully comfortable and serenely quiet is the dumbfounding brilliance of the Bentayga. Of course it's been thoroughly tested on the Nürburgring Nordschleife racecourse and
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
elsewhere, so it should hold up well on your local highways and byways, let alone a nearby track if you feel so inclined.

Speaking of tracks, a handy cargo tie-down track system was added to my loaner's beautifully detailed fully carpeted cargo hold, an area that measures 484 litres (17.1 cubic feet) behind the 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks and under the retractable cargo cover, or 590 litres (20.8 cubic feet) with that cover retracted, and a substantive 1,774 litres (62.6 cubic feet) with the rear seats folded flat.

It's here on the cargo floor where you'll find my only niggling complaint, the rather lazy inclusion of the Q7's (and lesser Audis) sturdy albeit utterly common matte
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
black plastic handle for accessing the spare tire (which is also identical). That Land Rover finishes this same type of handle in leather for its top-line Range Rover Autobiography should not have been overlooked by Bentley, as up until this Bentayga arrived that still superbly crafted model was the benchmark for SUV luxury.

As you might expect the Bentayga is nicely equipped in its most basic form, featuring 20-inch alloys, an air suspension with continuous damping and four height settings, LED headlights with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, self-synching soft close doors, a powered liftgate, a full-leather interior with a choice of veneers, heated and cooled front seats plus heatable rear seats, an eight-inch touchscreen with a 60-gig hard drive, voice activation, navigation, a backup camera, text-to-speech, SD card slots, 4G Wi-Fi connectivity, a panoramic tilt
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
and slide glass sunroof with a powered blind, and much more. Of course finding a base Bentayga will be near impossible, with my second tester featuring enough options to push its price all the way up to $451,031.50 (yes, that would be 50 cents) before taxes, which certainly made the not quite fully loaded $156,090 Range Rover Autobiography I recently tested seem commonplace, at least in price.

The fact is, on-road performance aside, which is truly breathtaking, the Bentayga isn't $294,941.50 better than that Range Rover Autobiography, as just noted when comparing the rear cargo floor handle. Even the quality of some of Bentley's plastic switchgear doesn't quite measure up to its exceptionally good competitor and some other premium SUVs. Don't get me wrong as the
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Bentayga is mostly excellent, but for this price it had better be brilliant beyond compare, and it's not.

It is exclusive, mind you, that price making sure of it, and along with that tourbillon dash clock it's the only SUV available with a $33,000 picnic set. The price paid for prestige has always been difficult to comprehend for the working class, but the fact that the Bentayga was already mostly sold out by the time I got to drive one is clear indication that plenty of folks think it delivers good value.

When you factor in how it's built the Bentayga's character begins to sink in. Like all Bentleys, most everything is handcrafted which means a Bentayga takes roughly eight times the labour to produce than the average vehicle, or 130 hours in total.

It's
2017 Bentley Bentayga W12
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
difficult to say how long Bentley will hold on to its best-of-the-best standing amongst luxury SUVs, now that Rolls-Royce has officially announced an SUV of its own, while Aston Martin has long been working on one for its Lagonda division. Of course Lamborghini's Urus is on the way, but that performance-first model will be focused on top-tier Range Rover Sport and Cayenne buyers, which reminds me that Enzo only said Ferrari would never build a sedan. Word has it Range Rover will deliver a fancier version of its top-line model soon, so it appears this groundbreaking Bentley has initiated an exotic SUV trend that will reportedly be followed by a smaller Audi Q5-based Crewe-built SUV sometime in the future.

Until then we can expect a turbocharged V8-powered Bentayga with a more approachable price point next year, plus a plug-in hybrid variant that improves on the current W12 model's 18.8 L/100km city and 12.2 highway rating sometime thereafter.

These are exciting times for Bentley and its many ardent fans, and while the brand will never be seen in quite the same light after introducing an SUV, most will define this as a positive.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)
 
Articles
Canada's Top 10 Selling Cars
Canada's Top Vehicle Incentives
Contact Us
Customer Feedback
FAQ
Français
Get Started
Glossary
Media Gallery
Member Benefits
New Car Buyer Reviews
News & Reviews
Privacy Policy
Sample Report
Savings and Discounts
Sign Up
Site Map
Tips & Advice
Videos

Who is CarCostCanada Who is CarCostCanada

We are Canada's #1 choice for New Car Buyers and the Nation's Most Trusted Online New Car Pricing Service. Since 1999 we have provided Canadian New Car Buyers with access to our proprietary Dealer Invoice Price Reports. 

Complementing the Dealer Invoice Price Reports, we also have an in-house team of automotive professionals with over an accumulated 100 years of experience and a Canada-Wide New Car Dealer Network.

Why you should Never Buy or Lease a New Car without a CarCostCanada Invoice Price Report Why you should Never Buy or Lease a New Car without a CarCostCanada Invoice Price Report

Our proprietary Invoice Price Reports include New Car Invoice (Dealer Cost) Information, Advertised and NON-Advertised Cash Incentives, CASH Rebates, Special Financing and Lease Rates. You will also receive a referral to a New Car Dealer that is committed to providing a seamless and extremely satisfying purchase experience along with great prices!

Learn How to Buy your Next New Car the CarCostCanada way  Learn How to Buy your Next New Car the CarCostCanada way

The CarCostCanada way of buying has taken the "guess work" out of the buying process and eliminated the need to travel from Dealer to Dealer with the hope of getting a discount from a professional salesperson. Simply use the Invoice Price Report to determine the exact cost, making sure you deduct the incentives. Then, add a margin or profit (dealers love the word profit) of typically anywhere from 3% to 5% over cost to arrive at a purchase target price.
Be sure to use our recommended dealer.

Connect with us

facebook youtube googleInstagram

Copyright © 2018 CarCostCanada.com All rights reserved. | Development and hosting by Armada Data Corporation
Design by Orange Keel Brand Strategy & Design