The Bentley Bentayga helped create a segment of the market where none had existed before.
Objectively, the Bentayga is a great vehicle. It’s fast, powerful, luxuriously appointed, and can handle a corner about as well as one could reasonably expect for a large SUV.
But it’s far from perfect. First, the looks. Simply put, it’s not pretty. Every one of the members of Bentley’s design team I’ve met has been highly credentialed with impressive resumés.
Unfortunately, the Bentayga isn’t one of their best works. Here, Bentley fell victim to the need to design an SUV that looks like a “Bentley.” Porsche has been guilty of this a couple of times while trying to make its early Cayenne SUVs and Panamera sedans look like the 911.
The Bentayga certainly looks like a Bentley. Just not a particularly attractive one. The front end is ungainly while the overall profile looks more like an overweight wagon than muscular off-roader.
And then there’s the spirit and feel of the car. The stylish interior and monster engine couldn’t inject the kind of soul and spirit we have come to expect in a Bentley.
To drive a Bentley is more than just a matter of getting to from point A to point B, it should be an experience.
The minute you climb behind the wheel, there should be no doubt in your mind that you are experiencing automotive royalty. It should make you feel special. It should make you feel like a freaking boss.
Sadly, the Bentayga falls short. It just seems to lack that Bentley mojo. The same mojo that oozes from the Continental, the Flying Spur, and the flagship Mulsanne.
Instead, it feels cold and way too VW Group corporate.
Matt DeBord agreed with my assessment and found the Bentayga disappointing. He felt the premise of the vehicle was highly cynical and simply a way for Bentley to maximize profits in a hot SUV market.
If feels like Bentley wanted to be first and they found a cost-effective way to do it by rolling out a re-skinned Audi Q7.
I’m aware it’s not as simple as that, and there’s nothing wrong with drawing heavily from the Q7, which itself is one of the finest SUVs in the world.
However, the technocratic brilliance of the Q7 makes for a best buy at $95,000, but not at $195,000.
Which brings us back to the Bentayga. Our verdict? There’s too much VW Group and not enough Bentley. And that just doesn’t do it for us.