Bentley Bentayga VS Volvo XC90
- Magnificent twin-turbo petrol V8
- Superbly comfortable
- Surprisingly dynamic for its size
- A little awkward looking
- Low on standard advanced safety equipment
- Boot is smaller compared to rivals
- Outstanding fuel efficiency
- Spacious and practical
- Effortless to drive
- Hybrid battery could be bigger
- Media screen is overly busy
- Charging cable storage bag seem an afterthought
When Bentley revealed its Bentayga in 2015 the British brand called it “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious, and most exclusive SUV in the world."
See, that first Bentayga packed a W12 engine, but the SUV we have here was introduced in 2018 with a twin-turbo petrol V8 and a reduced price tag.
So how does this more affordable and less powerful Bentayga stack up to Bentley's lofty ambitions?
Well you’ve come to the right place, because along with speed, power, luxury and exclusivity I can also talk about the Bentayga V8’s other attributes, such as what it’s like to park, drop children off at school in, do the shopping in and even go through a 'drive thru' in.
Yes, the Bentley Bentayga V8 came to live with my family for a week and as with any house guest you quickly find out what’s great about them… and then there are those times you walk in on them not looking their best.
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The last time I reviewed a plug-in hybrid Volvo I pretty much got death threats. OK, not quite, but my review and video of the XC60 R Design T8 made some readers and viewers very angry and they even called me names, all because I never charged the battery. Well, there’ll be no need for me to flee to a safe house this time, because not only did I charge the XC90 R-Design T8 Recharge I’m reviewing here, but I plugged it in nearly all the time I wasn’t driving it. Happy now?
I say nearly all the time, because during the three-week test of this plug-in hybrid XC 90 we took it away on a family holiday and didn’t have access to power and you’ll most likely face that situation too as an owner.
So how was the fuel economy of this big seven-seat SUV PHEV over hundreds of kilometres and being used as a family workhorse? The result blew me away and I can see why people were so furious with me in the first place.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Bentayga is Bentley’s first attempt at an SUV and the Bentayga V8 is a more recent addition to the line-up that provides an alternative to the W12, hybrid and diesel models.
There’s no doubt the Bentayga V8 delivers an exceptionally good driving experience from its power and athleticism to the serene cabin and comfortable ride.
Where the Bentley Bentayga V8 appears to be lacking is in cabin technology which compared to other luxury SUVs is becoming outdated, and in standard advanced safety equipment. We’d expect this to be addressed in future revisions of the SUV.
Does the Bentayga fit the ultra-luxury SUV bill? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
The XC90 Recharge makes a lot of sense for a family with a couple of kids, who live and spend most of their time in the city and surrounding suburbs.
You’ll need access to a power point for charging and you’ll have to do it regularly to get the best out of this SUV, but in return you’ll get effortless and efficient driving, along with the practicality and prestige which comes with any XC90.
The Bentayga is unmistakably a Bentley, but I have my doubts whether this first attempt by the British brand to build an SUV has been a design success.
To me, the rear three-quarter view is its best angle with those trademark rear haunches, but front-on reveals an overbite I can’t ‘unsee’.
But then again perhaps I’m the one with bad taste, I mean I think Lamborghini's Urus SUV, which uses the same MLB Evo platform, is a work of art in its design, staying faithful to the sports cars in the family, while acquiring a brave look of its own.
I also found the interior of the Bentayga V8 disappointing. Not in terms of overall craftsmanship but rather its outdated technology and plain styling.
The 8.0-inch screen is almost identical to the one used in the Volkswagen Golf in 2016. But the Golf received its Mk 7.5 update in 2017 and with it a stunning touchscreen which hasn't made it into the Bentayga yet.
The steering wheel, too, has identical switchgear to the $42K Audi A3 I reviewed two weeks ago and you can add the indicator and wiper stalks into that mix as well.
While the fit and finish of the upholstery was outstanding, there was a lack of interior refinement in some places. For example, the cupholders, had rough and sharp plastic edges, the gear shifter was also plastic and felt flimsy, while the fold-down armrest in the back seats also lacked refinement in the way it was constructed and lowered without damping.
At just over 5.1m long, 2.2m wide (including the wing mirrors) and a little over 1.7m tall the Bentayga is big but it’s the same length and width as the Urus, and a bit taller. The Bentayga’s wheelbase is only 7.0mm shorter than the Urus’s at 2995mm.
The Bentayga isn’t the longest of the Bentleys, that’s for sure. The Mulsanne is 5.6m end-to- end and the Flying Spur is 5.3m in length. So, the Bentayga V8 is almost ‘fun-size’ in Bentley terms, even though it’s large.
The Bentayga is made in the United Kingdom at Bentley’s home (since 1946) in Crewe.
Cars are like dogs in that a year for them ages them more than one for us. So, this current-generation XC90 which came out in 2015 is getting on in age. Still, the XC90 is a design lesson in how to defy the aging process because the styling even now it appears modern and beautiful. It’s also big, tough, and prestigious looking which is how the flagship SUV in a premium brand should be.
The Thunder Grey paint my test car wore (see the images) is an optional hue, and it suited the battleship size and personality of the XC90. The enormous 22-inch five -spoke Black Diamond Cut alloy wheels were standard and filled up those giant arches nicely.
Maybe it’s the minimalist styling which has kept the XC90 looking cutting edge, because even the interior looks like the inside of a very expensive psychiatrist’s office with those leather seats and the brushed aluminium trim.
The vertical display is still impressive even in 2021, and while fully digital instrument clusters are in everything these days the XC90’s has a prestigious look and matches the rest of the cabin in its colours and fonts.
As for the XC90’s dimensions, it’s 4953mm long, 2008mm wide with the mirrors folded and 1776mm tall to the top of its shark fin antenna.
The Bentayga V8 may be an SUV, but that doesn’t immediately make it a god of practicality. While roomy up front for the driver and co-pilot, the rear seating is not exactly limo-like, although at 191cm tall I can sit with about 100mm of space. Headroom is slightly limited by the edges of the panoramic sunroof for rear riders, too.
Storage in the cabin is adequate with two cupholders and small door pockets in the back, and another two cupholders and larger door pockets in the front. There’s also a shallow centre console storage bin and two wells for loose items in front of it.
The Bentayga V8’s boot with the rear seats in place has a cargo capacity of 484 litres – that’s measured to the cargo cover, but to the roof its 589 litres.
That boot space is still smaller than the Lamborghini Urus’s 616 litres and there’s much less boot space than the Audi Q7 and Cayenne which both have 770 litres measured to the roof, too.
Making life easier is the load-height lowering system which is operated with a button located in the boot.
The tailgate is powered, but the kick-open function (standard on say an Audi Q5) is an option you’ll have to pay for on the Bentayga.
As for power outlets and charging, the Bentayga’s falling out-of-date here, too. There is no wireless charger for phones, but there are two USB ports up front and three 12-volt outlets (one in the front and two in the rear row) on-board.
Clever interior packaging means the XC90 Recharge is more practical than many large SUVs. There are flashes of utilitarian brilliance everywhere from the children’s booster seat which pops out of the centre of the second row (see the images) to the way the XC90 can crouch down like an elephant to make it easier to load stuff into the boot.
The XC90 Recharge is a seven-seater, and like all SUVs with third rows those seats in the very back only offer enough room for kids. The second row is spacious even for me at 191cm tall with plenty of leg- and headroom. Up front as you’d expect has good head-, elbow- and shoulder room.
Cabin storage is good with two cup holders in each row (the third also has containers under the armrests) and there are large door pockets, a decent sized centre console box and a net pocket in the front passenger footwell.
The cargo capacity with all seats being used is 291 litres and with the third row folded flat you’ll have 651 litres of boot space.
Storage for the charging cable could be better. The cable comes in a stylish canvas bag that sits in the boot, but other plug-in hybrids I’ve driven do a better job of providing a storage box for the cable that’s out of the way of your regular cargo.
The gesture control tailgate works with a foot swish under the rear of the car and the proximity key means you can lock and unlock the vehicle by touching the door handle.
The cargo area is filled with hooks for bags and a lift-up divider to hold items in place.
Four-zone climate control, four USB ports (two in the front and two in the second row) dark tinted rear windows and sun blinds top off what is a very practical, family SUV.
My family is small – there’s just three of us – and so the XC90 was more than what we needed. That said, we found a way to fill it with holiday gear, shopping, even a mini trampoline.
Price and features
That’s the question those who can’t afford a Bentley Bentayga V8 want to know the answer to, and the one that those who can don’t ask.
I’m in the first group, so I can tell you the Bentley Bentayga V8 has a list price of $334,700. Our car had $87,412 in options which we’ll take a look at, but all up including the on-road costs, our test car had a price of $454,918.
Standard features inside include leather upholstery in a choice of five colours, 'Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus' veneer trim, a three-spoke leather clad steering wheel, ‘B’ foot pedals, Bentley embossed treadplates, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, a 10-speaker stereo, CD player, digital radio, four-zone climate control and shifting paddles.
Exterior standard features include 21-inch wheels, black painted brake calipers, air suspension with four height settings, a choice of seven paint colours, gloss black radiator grille, black lower bumper grille, LED headlights and LED tail-lights, twin quad-exhaust and a panoramic sun roof.
Our car was fitted with options galore which is common in vehicles loaned to the media. Car companies often use these cars to showcase available options rather than represent a typical customer specification.
There’s the 'Artica White' paint from the bespoke Mulliner range costing $14,536; 'our' car's 22-inch wheels weigh in at $9999, as do the fixed side steps; the tow bar and brake controller (with Audi Q7 badging, see the images) is $6989; body coloured lower bodywork is $2781 and LED puddle lights are $2116.
Then there’s the acoustic glazing for $2667, front seats with the 'Comfort Specification' for $7422 and then $8080 for the 'Hot Spur' main hide and 'Beluga' secondary hide leather upholstery, the $3825 piano black veneer trim and if you want the Bentley logo embroidered into the headrests (as per our car) it costs $1387.
Does it represent good value for the price? Not by regular standards, but Bentleys are anything but regular cars, and those that buy them tend not to look at prices.
But, as I do with every car I review (whether it costs $30,000 or $300,000), I ask the manufacturer for a list of options fitted to the test car and the as-tested pricing, and I always include those options and their costs in my review.
The XC90 Recharge lists for $114,990 making it the most expensive grade in the XC90 range.
Still, the value is excellent considering the number of features which come standard.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster standard, so is the nine-inch vertical centre display for media and climate control, there’s also sat nav, a Bowers and Wilkins 19-speaker stereo, wireless phone-charging, four-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, proximity key with auto tailgate and LED headlights.
My test car was fitted with options such as the Nappa Leather perforated and ventilated seats in Charcoal ($2950), the Climate pack which adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel ($600), power folding headrests in the rear ($275) and Thunder Grey metallic paint ($1900).
Even at a grand total (before on-road costs) of $120,715 I think this is still good value.
Engine & trans
The scores I’ve awarded to the Bentayga V8 so far haven’t been impressive, but now we come to the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8.
Derived from the same unit found in the Audi RS6 this turbo-petrol V8 makes 404kW/770Nm. That’s enough grunt to get this 2.4 tonne beast from parked in your garage to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds, provided your driveway is at least 163.04m long, which for some owners would be entirely possible.
That’s not as quick as the Urus which can do it in 3.6 seconds, but while the Lamborghini shares the same engine it’s tuned to make 478kW/850Nm and that SUV is about 200 kilos lighter.
Shifting gears wonderfully in the Bentayga V8 is an eight-speed automatic which suits the Bentley better with its seamless but not-in-a-huge-hurry gear swaps than the same unit in the Urus.
While there are those who think a W12, as found in the first Bentayga, is more in line with Bentley’s ethos, I think this V8 is superb in its power delivery and sounds subtle but magnificent.
The braked towing capacity of the Bentley Bentayga is 3500kg.
The XC90 Recharge (Volvo calls it this, so for simplicity let's do it, too) is an all-wheel drive SUV with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder supercharged and turbo-charged engine, producing 246kW and 440Nm, plus an electric motor which adds 65kW and 240Nm.
Shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic and acceleration is rapid at 5.5 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint.
All XC90s have a 2400kg braked towing capacity.
The 11.6kWh lithium ion battery is located under the floor in a tunnel which runs down the centre of the car covered by the centre console and hump in the footwell of the second row.
If you didn’t realise, this is the type of hybrid you need to plug into a power source to charge the batteries. A power point is fine but a wall unit is faster. If you don’t plug in, the battery will only get tiny whiff of charge from the regenerative braking and that won’t be enough to put a tiny dent in your fuel consumption.
A 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 pushing a 2.4-tonne SUV loaded up with people and possibly towing a horse float is going to want to be fed fuel – lots of fuel.
And that’s even if engine has cylinder deactivation like the one in the Bentayga V8 which can cut out four of the eight when not under load.
Officially, combined fuel consumption for the Bentayga V8 is 11.4L/100km, but after 112km of fuel testing on a combination of motorways, suburban and city roads I measured 21.1L/100km at the petrol pump.
I’m not surprised. For most of that I was in Sport mode or in the traffic, or in both at the same time.
Volvo says that after a combination of urban and open roads the XC 90 Recharge should use 2.1L/100km. That’s incredible - we’re talking about a five-metre long, 2.2-tonne, seven-seat SUV here.
In my testing the fuel economy varied greatly depending on how and where I drove the XC90.
There was a week where I only drove up to 15km a day doing the day care drop-offs, the shopping, popping into work in the CBD, but all within 10km of my home. With 35km of electric range I found that I only had to charge the XC90 every second day to keep it topped up to full and, according to the trip computer, after 55km of travel I was using 1.9L/100km.
I recharged using the outdoor power point in my driveway and using this method would take just less than five hours to fully charge the battery from empty. A wall unit or fast charger will top the battery up much quicker.
The charging cable is long at more than 3m, and the flap on the XC90 is located on the front left wheel guard.
If you don’t have a way of charging the XC90 regularly then fuel consumption will go up, obviously.
This happened when our family took a break down the coast and the holiday house we stayed at didn’t have a power point within reach. So, while we had been charging the car regularly in the week beforehand with a few long trips thrown in on motorways, for the four days we were away I didn’t plug it in at all.
After 598.4km I filled it back to full at the petrol pump with 46.13 litres of premium unleaded. That comes to 7.7L/100km, which is still great fuel economy given that the last 200km would have been without charging.
The lesson is the XC90 Recharge is most fuel efficient on short suburban and city trips with daily or every second-day charging.
A larger capacity battery would add more range and make this plug-in hybrid SUV better suited to people who live further out of the city and do more motorway miles.
Comfortable and (believe it or not) athletic, sums it up. And the only thing stopping me from throwing in another word such as effortless is the forward visibility, which is what I noticed the moment I steered it out of the dealership and into the traffic.
But first let me give you the comfortable and athletic good news. The Bentayga felt nothing like it looked to drive – my eyes told me it should be more sumo wrestler than ninja to steer but they were wrong.
Despite the hulking dimensions and not insignificant weight, the Bentayga V8 felt surprisingly lithe with great handling for an SUV this size.
That the Urus, which I test drove a few weeks beforehand, also felt athletic seemed less a surprise in that the styling suggested it was agile and quick.
Thing is it shouldn’t be a surprise given the Urus and Bentley share the same MLB EVO platform.
Four standard drive modes let me change the character of the Bentayga V8 from 'Comfort' to 'Sport'. There’s also a ‘B’ mode which is a mix of throttle response, suspension and steering setting which Bentley nominates as the best for all-round driving conditions. Or you can ‘build-you-own’ drive mode in the 'Custom' setting.
Keeping the comfort mode on makes the ride composed and supple. Self-levelling air suspension with continuous damping is standard but flick the dial to Sport and the suspension firms, but not to the point where the ride is compromised.
I spent most of my almost 200 kilometres testing it in Sport mode which did nothing to help fuel economy but made my ears happy with the V8 burble.
Now, about that forward visibility. The design of the Bentayga’s nose is the cause of my issue here; specifically the way the wheel guards are stepped down out of view from the bonnet.
All I knew was that I was about 100mm wider that it looked from the driver’s seat – I don’t like that kind of guess work when piloting half a million dollars down a narrow street or car park. As you’ll see in the video I came up with a solution to the issue.
I’m not going to let that nose get in the way of a poor score, however. Besides owners will get used to it after a while.
Aside from that, the Bentayga was quite easy to parallel park with light steering and good rearward visibility and large wing mirrors, while multi storey shopping centre car parks were also surprisingly fuss free to steering through – this is after all not an overly long large SUV.
There was one ‘drive thru’ excursion and again I’m happy to report I emerged with hamburgers and without scratches at the other end.
So, I’m happy to throw effortless in there after all and you can add serene – that cabin felt bank vault-like insulated from the outside world. Don’t ask me how I know that.
We put more than 700km on the clock of the XC90 Recharge during the three weeks it stayed with my family, covering a lot of motorway miles, country roads and a stack of urban usage, too.
Now without sounding like one of the haters who hated on me the last time I test-drove a Volvo hybrid, you will need to charge the XC90 Recharge all the time if you want to get not only the best fuel economy, but also the best performance from the SUV, too.
There’s the extra oomph from the motor, when you have enough charge in the ‘tank’ but also the serene and smooth pleasure of driving in electric mode on city and urban trips.
That tranquil electric driving experience feels kind of at odds with a large SUV at first, but having now tested a few big family plug-in hybrids and EVs I can tell you it’s a more enjoyable one.
Movement is not only smooth, but the electric grunt provides a feeling of control with an instant response which I found reassuring in traffic and at intersections.
The transition from electric motor to petrol engine is almost seamless. Volvo and Toyota are only a couple of the few brands which seemed to have achieved this.
The XC90 is large and that presented a challenge when trying to pilot it into my narrow driveaway and in car parks, but light, accurate steering and excellent visibility with large windows and cameras galore helped there.
The auto parking feature works well even on the higgledy-piggledy streets in my neighbourhood.
Topping off an effortless driving experience is air suspension which provides a cushioned and composed ride, with great body control all while wearing those 22-inch wheels and low-profile rubber.
The Bentayga V8 has not been assessed by ANCAP testing but being based on the same platform as the five-star rated Audi Q7 I have no reason to suspect the Bentley would perform any differently and not be safe from a structural perspective.
We’re tough on budget cars that don’t come standard with AEB and likewise on high-end vehicles, and the Bentley Bentayga V8 doesn’t escape here.
AEB is not standard on the Bentayga V8 and if you want other forms of advanced safety equipment such as lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic alert you’ll have to option them across two packages – the 'City Specification' for $12,042 and the 'Touring Specification' which was fitted to our car for $16,402.
The Touring specification adds adaptive cruise, lane keeping assistance, AEB, Night Vision and a head-up display.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX points and two top tether anchor points across the second row.
Volvo has for decades been a pioneer of safety systems to such an extreme that people used to make fun of the brand for being overly cautious. Well, take it from this helicopter parent: there’s no such thing as being overly cautious! Besides, these days all car brands are striving to offer advanced safety systems which the XC90 has had for years. Yep, safety is cool now. Which makes Volvo the Kanye of car brands.
Coming standard on the XC90 Recharge is AEB which works at city speeds to brake for pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles and even large animals.
There’s also lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning, cross traffic alert with braking (front and rear).
Steering support provides assistance during at evasive manoeuvre at speeds between 50 and 100km/h.
Curtain airbags cover all three rows and for child seats there are two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points in the second row. Note, there are no mounts or points for child seats in the third row.
A space-saver spare is under the boot floor.
The XC90 was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it tested in 2015.