The big British bruiser has landed with a tightened front end and vastly improved rear, new tech inside and service plans. Still a twin-turbo V8, still big, still fast.
The Bentley Bentayga, if I’m being honest with you (as I am always) is not my favourite fast SUV. Partly because I had never driven one until the low-key launch event but also because it didn’t seem to fit with the brand. As the car has settled into the automotive landscape, I find it less unappealing.
For 2021, Bentley has set to work on an updated Bentayga, raiding the Volkswagen Audi Group’s parts bin while also addressing what I personally thought were some of the car’s visual problems. Bentley wasn’t worried about what I thought, just quietly, but it’s nice to know we’re on the same page.
Interestingly, Australian buyers have not taken to the Bentayga the way I thought they might. Big fast SUVs are the playthings of the wealthy, with BMW, Mercedes and Audi all banking serious cash from its bigger – and biggest – machines. It seems Australian Bentley buyers remain in a global minority, preferring the Continental GT to the SUV.
Undeterred, the 2021 Bentayga has arrived.
How much is the 2021 Bentley Bentayga and what do I get?
Bentayga V8: $364,88
Bentayga V8 First Edition: $448,219
That’s some proper Bentley money right there. One thing you could never complain about now, or in the past, is the Bentley’s specification.
You get full matrix LED headlights with signature DRLs, LED taillights, powered everything, heated and cooled leather seats, wood trim, wireless charging for mobiles, digital dashboard, 21-inch alloys (with optional 22s and 23s), cooled glovebox, sat nav, multi-zone climate control, powered tailgate, auto wipers, air suspension and endless options and combinations for interior and exterior, plus wildly expensive Mulliner coach-building.
There is a new media system centred on the 10.9” central touchscreen with gesture control. The basic stereo is a mere 12 speakers or you can up your game to 20 speakers with the Naim for Bently option. The system also has DAB, wireless CarPlay, USB Android Auto and sounds excellent.
Warranty and Servicing Plans
Three years/unlimited kilometre warranty
Three year service plan: $3950
12 months/16,000km service intervals
If I’m being honest, a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty on a $400,000 car is a bit weak, especially when highly-strung Ferraris ship with a seven-year warranty. Having said that, only Mercedes/AMG – arguably in a different category of car – beats it with a five year warranty and the mechanically similar Audi RSQ8 and Lamborghini Urus are also the same.
For 2021 Bentley has added service plans into the mix, with a starting price of $3950 for three years. Which is fine, I guess, given the kind of service you get from a Bentley dealer and it’s hardly a high proportion of the car’s original cost. You’re expected back at the dealer every 12 months/16,000km.
The Bentayga has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, reverse cross-traffic alert, around view cameras, reversing camera, rollover stability, forward AEB with pedestrian detection, side exit warning, two ISOFIX points and three top tether points.
Predictably, there’s not an ANCAP safety rating.
Look and Feel
After almost six years on sale, the Bentayga was in a need of a bit of a freshening. As Bentley itself says, the brand has “welcomed” a number of competitors in its space in recent years, while claiming it invented the premium SUV. Not sure what compatriot Range Rover would say about that, but that’s a popcorn moment for another day.
Bentley customers are less keen on chrome these days, so newer Bentleys will be a bit more understated in that area. Not to worry, the jewel-like new headlights should bring the bling and the new grille they frame is even bigger. But less imposing in black rather than traditional chrome.
The new bumpers are a bit more aggressive, the new wheels very attractive things are bit less *big* than before.
The rear is the most obvious change, with the big blocky taillights gone and a new tailgate with integrated elliptical lights to better sit in the Bentley range. I think it’s a vast improvement although the extra space afforded by the more petite headlights has been filled with big Bentley lettering. Not my bag, but I’m sure owners will love it.
Inside, well, it’s bloody lovely even if a bit dated. The new seats look great with the winged B sewn into the leather and the new screen lifts the technical feel. While it has a digital dashboard, it doesn’t do anything startling, but that’s not what Bentleys are for.
There’s a lot of VW Group switchgear, which isn’t a sledge – it all works – but some of the buttons are looking a bit old. Having said that, you’re not going for Peugeot avant-garde in here. It’s exceptionally comfortable, of course, and I’ll admit to loving the feel of the high end leather.
For wealthy kid-havers, there’s even a seven-seat version.
For the moment, the Bentayga is still only available with the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Developing a colossal 404kW at 6000rpm and 770Nm between 1960rpm and 4500rpm, it’ll blow to 100km/h in under five seconds and on to a top speed of 290km/h. Which, if you’re wondering, is really fast.
The engine features cylinder cutout in certain circumstances to cut fuel use and has a 48-volt system to run various high-power applications such as the active anti-roll.
It won’t be a surprise to know that given the tech list, engine and transmission, the Bentayga is related to various other high-performance SUVs from Germany and Italy, namely the Porsche Cayenne, Audi RSQ8 and Lamborghini Urus, so it’s all fairly promising.
The car is held off the ground by double wishbones at the front and a multi-link trapezoidal arrangement at the rear, with a 48-volt electric anti-roll bar to keep it flat in the fun stuff. The plush ride (in Comfort and B mode, at least) comes from self-levelling air suspension.
The giant brakes are 400mm front discs with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs at the back. If you fancy the carbon ceramics, the discs are slightly smaller but the front calipers squeeze with 10-pots. So they’ll probably be quite effective.
Despite some aluminium panels and plenty of aluminium throughout, it’s still a chonker at 2.4 tonnes. It’ll tow a massive 3500kg, though.
Look, it’s nice. We only got a short trip in the Bentayga as a sort of taster to a full review (coming up, I hope) but it was certainly terribly pleasant pootling in traffic, accelerating to 80km/h off the lights like a damn hooligan and in Comfort mode shrugged of the concrete nastiness of Sydney’s Foreshore Road.
TL;DR: need more seat time, which I’ve been promised.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.