3 thoughts after 24 hours in the $177,000 Bentley Bentayga

Surprising in more than one way

Long story short, I borrowed a new Bentley Bentayga for 24 hours. What follows is a brief overview of the $177,000 sport utility vehicle. As I had the vehicle for a short time, I was unable to dive deep into the SUV, and it feels disingenuous to write a full review after driving just a few miles in the Bentayga.

Here’s the short version: The Bentayga surprises. Constantly. I was surprised continuously, both good and bad, at the Bentayga’s ride, performance and quirks.

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A different ride from Bentley’s coupe and sedan

The new Bentayga is the third Bentley I’ve driven recently, and it’s different from the rest. The ride is supple, and nearly to a fault. It flows over the road in a bumbling and bouncy manner, floating over any fault or bump. This is different from what I experienced in the new Flying Spur or Continental GT, as those cars felt more planted to the ground with less side-to-side bouncing.

The Bentayga’s springy ride is so elastic I found it nauseating the first tour around town. After several dozen miles, I settled into the ride.

Now, having spent several hours in the car, the ride quality continues to surprise me. Turn hard, and the heavy SUV stays surprisingly flat. It’s agile in the corners in a way that defies expectations. Mash on the twin-scroll V8 and the suspension instantaneously firms up, preventing the SUV from rearing on its hind legs.

I want more time in the Bentayga to explore the ride quality. I’m not sure I love it or hate it. On the one hand, it’s exceptionally soft on long stretches of roads. But when the road gets twisty, the ride becomes surprisingly competent.

Questionable infotainment system

The new Bentayga is equipped with Bentley’s next-generation infotainment system. It’s similar in design to the outgoing version, but I found the operation laggy. Click a button, wait for a second and, finally, it responds. I expect more from budget cars, and the Bentayga costs $177,000 as tested.

Bentley is part of the Volkswagen corporation and shares a lot of components and systems with Audi vehicles. The system in the new Bentayga is similar in design language to Audi’s latest infotainment system, but I haven’t experienced this sort of lag in Audi’s implementation.

Putting the lag aside, the infotainment system is well-designed and laid out pleasingly.

The Bentayga’s infotainment system is missing a crowd-pleasing feature found on the Flying Spur and Continental GT. In those Bentley vehicles, the screen can be flipped inside the dashboard, hiding the screen and revealing three analog gauges. It’s clever and not available in the Bentayga, which is a shame, as it’s a unique feature found nowhere else at this price point.

The backseat is cozy

Don’t be fooled by the Bentley nameplate and sport utility stance. The Bentayga is a mid-size SUV. The backseat area is pleasant but modest in size and appointments. This is not a sizeable luxury land yacht.

The Bentayga is a sporty grocery-getter rather than a palatial personal transport. Like most Bentley’s, the Bentayga is designed around the driver. This is a driver’s SUV — if there’s such a thing. Riders are treated with pleasing fabrics and soft seats, but there’s little extra over a top-tier Audi or BMW SUV.

In the end, there’s plenty of room in the Bentayga to haul four adults and their clubs to the local course, and that’s probably all that matters.