Mercedes-Benz GLS 2020 review
The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a full-size, seven-seat, luxury SUV, and the new third-generation version is even bigger. But is it better?
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What’s cheap and what’s expensive is all relative, right? For example, the new Bentley Bentayga V8 now starts at $364,800 before on-road costs, but is still the ultra-luxe brand’s most affordable vehicle.
The brief for the Bentayga is also somewhat contradictory, needing to be comfortable, premium and practical, but also fast, agile and fun-to-drive.
But do all these elements coalesce into the ultimate all-rounder, or will owners of the 2021 Bentley Bentayga be left wanting?
|Bentley Bentayga 2021: V8 (5 Seat)|
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Priced at $364,800 before on-road costs, the entry-level Bentayga V8 isn’t exactly cheap, but it is the most affordable in the Bentley SUV family.
Sitting above the V8 is the Bentayga Speed, which is priced at $501,800, and makes use of a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 petrol engine, as well as other models in the Bentley stable such as the Flying Spur (from $428,800) and Continental GT (from $408,900).
Standard equipment includes 21-inch wheels, air suspension, Matrix LED headlights, head-up display, leather interior and steering wheel, heated and cooled front and rear seats, reclining rear seats, a wireless smartphone charger, and all-digital instrumentation.
Handling multimedia duties is a massive 10.9-inch touchscreen, which sports satellite navigation with real-time traffic data, wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, digital radio and 4G connected services, outputting to a 12-speaker sound system.
If you’ve read this far and thought that nothing in the spec sheet justifies the Bentayga V8’s price tag, it’s the attention to detail that adds to the car’s value.
For example, the climate control system is split into four zones, meaning the optimal temperature can be set for the driver, front passenger and rear outboard seats.
The second-row occupants also have access to a detachable 5.0-inch tablet that can control multimedia and vehicle functions, as well as set the interior ambient lighting colour. Fun fact: changing the ambient lighting hue will also change the colour of the main multimedia display. See, attention to detail.
The windscreen wipers are also souped up with 22 individual jets each that can heat up for better rain- and sleet-clearing capabilities.
However, the options list is a little… overwhelming.
Some choice examples include a 20-speaker Naim sound system ($17,460), 22-inch wheels (from $8386), seating for seven ($7407), a hands-free tailgate ($1852), space-saving spare wheel ($1480) and sports pedals ($1229).
To be fair, Bentley has made things a bit easier with specific option packs that will bundle together some add-on equipment, ranging from the $4419 Sunshine Specification' all the way up to the $83,419 'First Edition Specification', that is better value for money, but some things like a spare wheel and a hands-free tailgate should really be included as standard in a car costing this much.
The Bentley Bentayga was first introduced to the world in 2016, but in 2021, it has been given a slight nip and tuck to keep it fresh against ultra-luxurious SUV rivals.
New this year is a wider front grille, flanked by quad LED headlights and a sculpted bumper.
The rear features an extended roof-mounted rear spoiler, new tail-lights and quad-exhaust outlets, as well as the repositioning of the number plate to the lower bumper.
But like any car in this class, the devil is in the details.
All exterior lighting elements feature a cut crystal design, which catches the light and sort of sparkles even while the Bentayga is stationary, and in person, it’s as baller and bougie as it sounds.
Also new in the updated Bentayga are front fenders strakes and new-look 21-inch wheels with a wider rear track to better fill out the arches for a more aggressive stance.
As a large SUV, the Bentayga is certainly attention-grabbing, though whether it looks good is up to you.
I think the grille looks a little too big and the headlights a little too small, but for some, the Bentley badge will be enough.
Step inside and, whereas mainstream and even premium cars would opt for just leather to adorn main surfaces, the Bentayga kicks it up a notch with supple and soft-touch leather, and plush appointments throughout.
What stands out most, though, isn’t the handcrafted contrasting stitching or Bentley embroidered seats, but the shape and styling of the air vents and centre stack.
Sitting front and centre of the cabin is a fancy-looking analogue clock, flanked by exquisitely crafted vents.
Like all Bentley models, opening and closing of the vents isn’t as basic as wiggling flap in the vent, it’s done by pushing and pulling on unique plungers littered throughout the cabin.
Underneath the multimedia system, the switchgear is laid out in an easy-to-use fashion, but finished with high-quality materials that give a good amount of feedback with every push and turn.
The gearshift and drive-mode selector are oversized, chunky, and finished with a nice chrome sheen.
But the steering wheel is my favourite part of the interior, as it features no stitching on the outer rim to disrupt the touch of soft leather in your hands.
No doubt the inside of a Bentayga is a pleasant place to be, one where you could happily spend hours out on the open road.
Measuring 5125mm long, 2222mm wide, and 1742mm tall, with a 2995mm wheelbase, the Bentley Bentayga definitely cuts an imposing figure on the road.
It's actually larger than a Honda Odyssey people mover in all dimensions, and because of its girthy measurements, interior space is positively palatial.
Front passengers have ample room to get comfortable thanks to the supportive, electronically adjustable seats, with storage options extending to door bins, a centre storage cubby, two cupholders and a wireless smartphone-charging tray.
Step into the second-row, though, and the Bentayga offers more than enough room for even the burliest of adults.
Bentley has increased the legroom in the rear by as much as 100mm, depending on whether you get the four-, five-, or seven-seat version, which makes for a great place to sit.
Our test example was equipped with five seats, which can be reclined to get into a comfier position, with storage options including door bins, jacket hooks, map pockets and a fold-down armrest with two cupholders.
Opening the boot reveals a cavity offering 484 litres of volume, extending to 1774L with the rear seats folded. But it's worth noting the rear seats don’t quite fold flat due to the backrest's heavy bolstering, although the middle seat can be stowed independently to use as a ski pass-through.
Powering the 2021 Bentley Bentayga V8 is a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo petrol engine, producing 404kW at 6000rpm and 770Nm from 1960-4500rpm.
Paired to the engine is an eight-speed (torque convertor) automatic transmission that drives all four wheels, which is enough to propel the ultra-lux SUV from 0-100km/h in just 4.5 seconds.
Top speed is pegged at 290km/h, making it one of the fastest SUVs in the world.
Official fuel consumption for the Bentayga V8 is pegged at 13.3 litres per 100km, but we didn’t manage to drive the test car in varied enough conditions to validate the claim.
The Bentley Bentayga V8 also emits 302 grams of CO2 per kilometre and meets the latest Euro 6 emissions standards.
Fuel consumption is kept down thanks to cylinder deactivation technology, as well as an engine start/stop system.
The Bentley Bentayga has not been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, so therefore has no independent safety rating.
However, standard safety systems include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert and a surround-view monitor.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Like all new Bentley models sold in Australia, the Bentayga V8 comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is par for the course in the ultra-premium segment, but falls short of the mainstream industry standard of five years.
Scheduled service intervals for the Bentayga V8 is every 12 months or 16,000km, whichever occurs first.
Bentley has introduced new three- and five-year service plans, priced at $3950 and $7695 respectively, which is actually pretty affordable for a car costing nearly $400,000.
Though some Bentley owners may prefer to be driven, we’re happy to report the 2021 Bentayga V8 is also excellent behind the wheel.
First, getting into the right position is easy thanks to the electronically adjustable seats with control knobs that feel well textured and premium, unlike the plastic bits you’ll find in cheaper large SUVs.
Secondly, the steering wheel feels wonderful in hand as it has no seams on the outer rim, and adds to the Bentayga’s opulence.
The digital instrumentation is also clear and concise, and can be customised with driving data, map information, etc, but the steering wheel buttons and indicator stalks are noticeably Audi-esque (Bentley sits under the Volkswagen Group umbrella).
And this is even before things start moving.
Out on the road, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and eight-speed auto are a delight, delivering effortless and smooth performance from anywhere in the rev range despite the car's portly 2371kg kerb weight.
In 'Comfort' mode, the Bentayga V8 is luxurious enough, soaking up bumps and other surface imperfections with ease, but some of Melbourne’s craggy country B-roads are enough to send jostles and jolts into the cabin.
Flick it over to Sport mode, and things firm up a little, but never to the point where the Bentayga V8 becomes a corner-hunting sports car slayer.
In fact, there's little variability in ride comfort between modes, but steering weight changes noticeably.
When things get a bit too fast and furious, the Bentayga’s large brakes do a great job of scrubbing off speed, and if that isn’t enough, Bentley offers carbon ceramics for an additional $30,852.
Ultimately, the Bentayga V8’s eager powertrain does make it fun to drive, and the fact that it doesn’t feel pudgy in corners is testament to the brand’s great active anti-roll technology, but don’t go in expecting this Bentley SUV to be the last word in driving dynamics.
There is an argument that no matter which way you slice it, buying a Bentley Bentayga doesn’t stack up. The price tag is high, the options list is long, and the level of comfort and refinement you get, while excellent, isn’t exactly life changing.
But the value of a Bentayga doesn’t lie in how it drives, or rides, or even looks. It’s in its Bentley badge. Because with that badge, the Bentayga transcends its ultra-premium large SUV visage, and is elevated to a statement about your wealth, or status. Maybe it's more a fashion accessory. And, really, only you can answer how much that level of prestige and clout is worth.
|Diesel (4 Seat)||4.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$366,614||2021 Bentley Bentayga 2021 Diesel (4 Seat) Pricing and Specs|
|Diesel (5 Seat)||4.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$342,500||2021 Bentley Bentayga 2021 Diesel (5 Seat) Pricing and Specs|
|Diesel (7 Seat)||4.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$350,090||2021 Bentley Bentayga 2021 Diesel (7 Seat) Pricing and Specs|
|V8 (4 Seat)||4.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$358,814||2021 Bentley Bentayga 2021 V8 (4 Seat) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||9|
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