- P​hotos: Kurt Bradley

The 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hauls Ass In The Most Luxurious Manner Imaginable

This fast British tank gets improvements in all the right places for 2021.

1w ago

S​ince 2015, Bentley has splashed into the opulent SUV segment, selling over 20,000 examples of the Bentayga. As Bentley's model to perfectly blend a grand tourer, luxury limousine, family car, and off-roader into one, the Bentayga was getting a little long in the tooth, so the Crewe outfit decided to freshen things up. I was fortunate to test the outgoing Bentayga Speed model last year, which was a nice send-off for its first generation.

Introducing elements of Bentley's styling language applied to the Continental and Flying Spur, the changes are subtle but meaningful. D​elicately balancing epic performance and extravagance, Bentley sticks to its heritage in the 2021 Bentayga, while targeting improvements in refinement and capability on any surface. I had to see how they added up in this new Bentayga, so I drove it all over Texas for a week.

The Vital Stats

T​he standard engine for the Bentayga is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 540 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 568 lb-ft (770 Nm) of torque across 1,960 - 4,500 RPM. If that's not enough juice for you, Bentley will be releasing its W12-equipped Speed variant later in 2021, and there's a new V6 PHEV Bentayga Hybrid coming soon for the more environmentally conscious driver.

Through a ZF eight-speed automatic, the Bentayga has permanent all-wheel-drive, a Torsen center differential, and an open rear that incorporates an electronic locking mechanism that allows it to surge from 0-60 MPH in just 4.4 seconds, 0-100 in 9.9, and keep pulling until it hits a top speed of 180. That's serious performance for a luxury SUV that weighs a stout 5,326 pounds (or 2,415 kilos in the Queen's English).

Base price for the 2021 Bentley Bentayga is $177,000, can be priced into the stratosphere if you develop a good relationship with the Bespoke team in Crewe, and my Brodgar painted tester racked up a sticker of $237,415 after adding the $42,430 First Edition Specification (which basically ticks a bunch of popular options boxes in one fell swoop), All Terrain Specification, and a few good interior upgrades.

G​ive me a #5, Whatasized, with an iced tea.

G​ive me a #5, Whatasized, with an iced tea.

W​hat's New For 2021

At first glance, the new Bentayga doesn't look much different from the one it replaces, but the sheet metal is more pronounced, the larger grille is impactful with more upright positioning, the rear track is 20 mm wider to better fill the fenders, taillights are now incorporated into a wider tailgate, and the headlamps are cut crystal with 82 LEDs inside each housing. Sporty black painted and bright machined 22-inch wheels are wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero rubber. With the All Terrain Specification, four on-road driving modes are coupled with four new off-road settings to tackle any exploring you wish to do.

C​abin upgrades are plentiful, with all-new seats and trim, a large multifunction instrument cluster that's easier to read and control, a 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a welcome increase in rear legroom. In First Edition spec, the appearance is upgraded with an additional contrast detail within the diamond pattern stitching, your choice of "First Edition" logos or Bentley flying wings embroidered into the seat, and signature badges on the rear quarter panel and on the passenger side dash.

Completely Encompassed In Opulence

W​hen you slip into the Bentayga's wonderfully contoured seat, and shut the soft-close door you're greeted with several cows worth of supple duo tone saddle and burnt oak leather throughout the cabin. Everything from the headliner, dash, visors, and even the door pockets are covered with perfectly stitched, fine hide. Disturbances from the outside world are silenced by the heavily insulated panels and extra thick glass.

Every piece of metal, grand black veneer, and leather is installed with zero margin of error allowed. Each button or knob has positive weight and feedback. Nothing is overdone in a Bentley, with just enough switchgear and information to handle the duties of driving while not complicating the interior. Controls are state of the art, but not flashy.

Whether you're stuck in gridlock or dispatching all the power from under the hood on a long highway, this big Bentley excels. G​obbling up hundreds of miles per day is done with speed and comfort, and the multicountor seats offer heating and ventilation, paired with a handful of massage modes that have several intensities to ease away any stress-related tension you may have been carrying. The climate control's ionization system eliminates any lesser quality air from the cabin too.

Maintaining The Bentley Performance Standard

T​rue to form, the Bentayga is fast, even with the "base" turbo V8 equipped. Stomping the throttle sends the big Bentley forward in a smooth surge, and doesn't let up until you encounter your local law enforcement patrol. Capable of hitting 180 MPH without breaking a sweat, this SUV has its peak torque available from just 900 revs above tick over while staying steady across a plateau until 4,500 RPM. Getting up to speed on an on-ramp or passing some slow moving plebeian in the left lane is done with the slightest application of the accelerator. After driving the Speed variant last year, this V8 option doesn't feel any slower where it counts, and you're saving a ton of cash.

B​entley Dynamic Ride employs a fully adaptive and self-leveling air suspension that works in harmony with an electric anti-roll system to eliminate body roll while ensuring maximum cornering adhesion. With four drive modes dedicated to on-road conditions, I found that the "B" mode kept things responsive yet compliant as I conquered highway miles but would instantly tighten things up if my driving mood suddenly became more playful. Sticky 285/40/22 Pirelli P-Zero tires are more than up to the task of keeping the Bentayga planted. As I flogged the Bentayga along a twisty road, I was stunned how gracefully it carved, considering its size and mass. Big luxury performance sedans want this level of fun.

As an enthusiast driver, the steering wheel feedback is on the lighter side, but Bentley knows its core buyer wants more effortless steering input. When you approach a bend after a long straightaway, mega six-piston calipers bite down on 400mm front and 380mm rear rotors to dispose of speed with smooth pedal feedback. Should you want even greater braking potential, Bentley offers carbon ceramic rotors that you'll find on the Bentayga Speed.

A Functional Family SUV

D​aily driving is pure bliss, with the Bentley gliding along the road, with the signature subtle rumble of the Bentley powerplant. In an effort to conserve fuel, the V8 has cylinder deactivation when under lighter demand, offering EPA estimates of 15/24/18 (city/highway/combined) MPGs and a cruise range just under 400 miles. My tester included the 1,780-watt, 20-speaker Naim audio system as part of the First Edition package, in case you want to hear sounds other than the engine, and I can't think of any other car audio system that compares.

The 2021 Bentayga added significant rear legroom to ensure comfort for taller adults, and offers seating for five or an upgraded rear center console in a four-seat configuration. A removable remote control screen is installed to keep the back seat occupants comfortable and in control of all their seat and entertainment settings while not having to lean forward. Go for the $945 hands free tailgate option to more easily access a massive cargo area.

To keep you safe, Bentley includes crash mitigation and detection systems, adaptive cruise control, heads up display, night vision, park assist, and traffic sign recognition. Other thoughtful features include a wiper system that incorporates 22 jets per wiper blade rather than jets that spray toward the windscreen, to keep your visibility at its peak, and there are three different adaptive headlight modes (town, country, and motorway) that adjust pitch and width to provide the best views at night over any terrain.

Unscathed Through Any Conditions

Should you take your Bentayga off the comfort of paved surfaces, Bentley gave it plenty of kit to conquer. Tick the $4,815 All Terrain Specification option box to get four dedicated off-road drive modes designed for numerous surfaces. Taking the Bentayga exploring is simple, as smart icons make picking the correct off-road seating easy via a​ quick spin of the drive mode knob.

Separate buttons flank either the drive mode knob to engage the hill descent control or adjust the ride height manually, and the rear electronic differential engages as needed. Just don't go to wild on looser stuff if you don't have plans to get towed out, or buy an extra set of all-terrain tires if you're booking a trip to the Dakar rally because the Pirelli P-Zero tires are more confident on asphalt than sand.

I​t could probably pull this train.

I​t could probably pull this train.

I​mproved In Many Ways, Not That It Sucked To Begin With

When I drove the Bentayga Speed last year, I thought it was fantastic, even if most drivers would never exploit all its power. This V8 option offers the right amount of power, even though the hybrid option that arrives later this year will likely outsell it. No matter which engine you opt for, you'll still get an opulent interior and a driving experience that only Bentley can offer.

The all-new 2021 Bentley Bentayga stepped up its style inside and out, yet still provides an exceptional driving experience. If you're looking for an SUV that will gap most sports cars while spoiling you in luxury, there's nothing else to buy.

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Comments (13)

  • I’d love to have that kind of money. I tried closing my eyes, making a wish and clicking my heels together. But I just ended up in Kansas. 😢

      6 days ago
  • Love the colour of that car in the sun 😍

      7 days ago
    • Me too. It's called Brodgar, and at first glance it just seems like another brownish gray shade, but it has so much depth. Especially when you look at my closeup shot of the "First Edition" badge on the quarter panel.

        7 days ago
  • Beautiful car and love the spec and colour. Now to work out how to buy one..... might be working on that one for a while by which time depreciation will have taken its toll.

    Eureka, I’ll have that one in a few years.

      7 days ago
    • It'll take a few kidney sales for me too.

        7 days ago
  • Love these things. The only thing I’d change is the wheels and tires, more side wall/less wheel. Comfort and capability over cornering. I’ll take the Continental GTC when I want to carve up the canyons.

      3 days ago
  • "G​ive me a #5, Whatasized, with an iced tea."

    You had me with a very interesting review up to this point. I gave up after reading this. Patty Melt Combo or nothing at all!

      6 days ago
    • The #5 is my weekly routine. I can't eat a patty melt every week, but I do get it from time to time.

      HBCB, on the other hand, is life-changing.

        6 days ago