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Bentley Bentayga 2019 review: V8

Does this more affordable and less powerful Bentayga stack up to Bentley's lofty ambitions?
EXPERT RATING
7.3
It's called the Bentley of SUVs, but is the Bentayga V8 the best?

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."

Those are exciting words, but a lot of things have happened since then. Things such as the Rolls Royce Cullinan, the Lamborghini Urus and the Bentayga V8 - which is the vehicle we’re reviewing.

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.

Bentley Bentayga 2019: V8 (5 SEAT)
Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency11.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$334,700

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

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.

  • Bentleys are anything but regular cars, and those that buy them tend not to look at prices. Bentleys are anything but regular cars, and those that buy them tend not to look at prices.
  • Exterior standard features include 21-inch wheels. Exterior standard features include 21-inch wheels.
  • Standard features inside include four-zone climate control. Standard features inside include four-zone climate control.

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.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

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’.

The same face works perfectly on a Continental GT coupe, and the Flying Spur and the Mulsanne saloons, but on the taller Bentayga the grille and headlights seem too high.

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.

That MLB Evo platform also underpins the Volkswagen Touareg, the Audi Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne.

I also found the interior of the Bentayga V8 disappointing. Not in terms of overall craftsmanship but rather its outdated technology and plain styling.

To me, the rear three-quarter view is its best angle with those trademark rear haunches. To me, the rear three-quarter view is its best angle with those trademark rear haunches.

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.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

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.

  • Derived from the same unit found in the Audi RS6 this turbo-petrol V8 makes 404kW/770Nm. Derived from the same unit found in the Audi RS6 this turbo-petrol V8 makes 404kW/770Nm.
  • The braked towing capacity of the Bentley Bentayga is 3500kg. The braked towing capacity of the Bentley Bentayga is 3500kg.

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. 

What's it like to drive?   9/10

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.

Keeping the comfort mode on makes the ride composed and supple. Keeping the comfort mode on makes the ride composed and supple.

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.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

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.

  • While roomy up front for the driver and co-pilot, the rear seating is not exactly limo-like. While roomy up front for the driver and co-pilot, the rear seating is not exactly limo-like.
  • The Bentayga V8’s boot with the rear seats in place has a cargo capacity of 484 litres. The Bentayga V8’s boot with the rear seats in place has a cargo capacity of 484 litres.
  • Making life easier is the load-height lowering system which is operated with a button located in the boot. Making life easier is the load-height lowering system which is operated with a button located in the boot.

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.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

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.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

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.

Safety standards have been raised since then, however, and now a car will not be given a five-star ANCAP rating unless it has AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection.

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.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The Bentayga V8 is covered by Bentley’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Servicing is recommended at 16,000km/12-month intervals, however, there is currently no capped price service plan.

Verdict

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.

Pricing Guides

$396,007
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$334,700
Highest Price
$457,314

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
DIESEL (4 SEAT) 4.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $366,614 2019 Bentley Bentayga 2019 DIESEL (4 SEAT) Pricing and Specs
DIESEL (5 SEAT) 4.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $342,500 2019 Bentley Bentayga 2019 DIESEL (5 SEAT) Pricing and Specs
DIESEL (7 SEAT) 4.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $350,090 2019 Bentley Bentayga 2019 DIESEL (7 SEAT) Pricing and Specs
V8 (4 SEAT) 4.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $358,814 2019 Bentley Bentayga 2019 V8 (4 SEAT) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features6
Design7
Engine & trans9
Driving9
Practicality7
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership6
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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