2018 Bentley Bentayga

PHOENIX — The notion of purchasing a new vehicle costing upwards of a quarter million dollars is clearly out of reach for middle-class bourgeois like myself. However, if you’re among the global one-tenth of one-percent who can easily write that check, you need pay attention to this: The long black luxury sedan is so yesterday as the choice of livery servitude, pushed aside by chrome ablaze, boxy, giant ultra-luxury SUVs in all their glorious swaddled seduction and refinement.

Bentayga, Bentley’s first-ever SUV, gets its name from the first four letters of Bentley and an altered spelling of Taiga – the world’s largest snow forest. It heralds a brand new automotive segment: the ultra-luxury SUV.

Later this year, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Aston Martin will join the segment with their new SUV offerings that easily top the proper English Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Edition as the must-have vehicle for the privileged. Ferrari and other exotics will follow later with SUVs of their own.

With 600 horsepower and a top speed of 187 mph, Bentayga is the fastest, most luxurious and most expensive SUV in the world. At least until Rolls-Royce debuts their new SUV model.

It takes just four seconds to get from zero to 60 mph. With amazing off-road capability, the all-wheel drive Bentayga can easily negotiate sand dunes and boulder-strewn trails and holds its own on the racetrack. It’s also offered in a less expensive 542-horsepower V-8 and a V-6/electric motor powered plug-in hybrid offering. It’s certainly as capable as it is big.

Bentayga’s ostentatious exterior mimics Bentley’s signature passenger car up front, with a large matrix grille and LED headlights. With broad shoulders and oversized taillamps, the muscular rear design suggests power and performance. There’s an endless palette of exterior color choices, custom matched to the quilted leather saddlery inside.

The opulent interior, said to be the world’s finest with exclusive materials and design, is nothing short of a work of art. Buyers can choose from a dozen or so perfectly matched, unblemished, dyed bull hides sourced from the Outer Hebrides. There are 17 separate panels adorned with highly polished book-matched veneers of burr walnut, dark fiddleback eucalyptus, or stained madrone burl timbers that complement the organ-stop metallic pull handles for the ventilation system.

Everything here is world class. And, if you don’t mind please take your shoes off when entering so as to not soil the deep pile woolen floor mats.

Sophisticated operational instrumentation, telematics and voice assistance is offered in 30 different languages. And did I mention the awesome and recondite Naim Audio system?

The Bentley Bentayga, with all of its quilted luxuries, excessive performance and vast complexity of nouveau riche self consciousness, delivers far more of everything it’s supposed to, and does it with style and verve, resulting in the automotive equivalent of nirvana.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $231,825
Price as Tested: $241,725
Powertrain: 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12/600 horsepower with 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
Layout: 4-door, front-engine, all-wheel-drive SUV
Fuel Economy: 12-mpg City – 19-mpg Highway
Seating: 5-passenger

Competes With:
Aston Martin Varekai (mid-2019 est.)
Lamborghini Urus (late 2018)
Mercedes-Benz AMG G65
Rolls-Royce Cullinan  (late 2018)

Fab Features:
Overall magnificent automotive engineering
As extravagantly luxurious as an EleMMent Palazzo RV
It’s fast

— Jim Prueter