Car review: The Bentley Bentayga Tested In Dubai

Bentley Bentayga Dubai Review

Well, that looks expensive.

Oh it is. At AED 1.3 million, the Bentley Bentayga is one of the most expensive SUVs that money can buy.

Yikes. So what do you get for such a large amount of money?

According to Bentley, the best SUV in the world. While that’s certainly a subjective claim, there’s no doubting that the Bentayga is one of the fastest SUVs available, and it’s certainly one of the most luxurious.

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But the Bentayga is more than a big, expensive SUV. It’s actually the answer to a problem that Bentley’s had for years – what to offer customers with a family and dog to ferry around. For that, the Continental GT certainly won’t do, and the Continental Flying Spur and Mulsanne aren’t exactly ideal. Really, if you’re set on a Bentley, but you want a family-friendly car, the Bentayga is the only model you can consider.

Yeah, yeah. Tell me more about its performance.

Gladly. The Bentayga comes with a heavily reworked version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12 engine, which here develops 600 bhp and 663 lb ft of torque. That means that this 2.4-tonne beast will do the 0-100 km/h dash in 4.0 seconds flat, and go on to a top speed of 300 km/h.

Bentley Bentayga Dubai Review

So I’m guessing it’s a hoot to drive?

Certainly, the speed is very, very entertaining. Flick the drive selector into sport when you’re stopped at a set of traffic lights, and you brace yourself as the suspension lowers by a few inches. From start, full-throttle results in an almighty kick to the stomach as the physics-bending performance of the Bentayga is unleashed. It’s outrageously fast, and putting your foot down is sure to put a grin on your face.

But aside from the speed, the Bentayga is actually a pretty relaxing drive. Press the starter button by the centre armrest, and the big W12 comes to life with a gentle purr, rather than a growl. Even when you put the pedal to the metal, there’s very little aural drama to go along with the enormous surge in speed. It gathers speed with very little drama. The automatic gearbox upshifts smoothly; the engine hums rather than snorts.

That sounds a little… disappointing?

Oh it’s really not. Personally, we find the idea that SUVs need to behave and perform like sports cars really annoying. If you want a performance car with loads of space, get a fast station wagon. SUVs just are just inherently heavy and bulky. So our attitude is that it’s better for SUVs to play to their strengths – off-road ability, space and comfort.

As a result, we’re pleased to report that the Bentayga is a car that puts luxury ahead of driving thrills. The steering is light, the gearbox silky smooth, and the suspension immensely supple. The Bentayga was clearly designed to make piloting such a wide car effortless. And it’s largely succeeded in that mission. That it’ll devastate all but the fastest Porsches in a drag race is simply the icing on the cake.

Bentley Bentayga Dubai Review

So it’s useless as a driver’s car?

Useless would be a strong word. All of the above said, you have to admire the engineering that has gone into the Bentayga to make it feel smaller and lighter than it is. It feels surprisingly good around the corners. It won’t pitch and roll like, say, a full-fat Range Rover will (thanks to its new 48-volt active anti-roll system), but it still doesn’t have the sharpness of the Continental GT, either. Grip is mighty impressive; you can get on the power very early on the exit, and the car will just go. But, as we said above, we’d prefer to treat the Bentayga as a more refined sort of car that doesn’t really encourage you to attack roads in anger.

Will the Bentayga go off-road?

Yep, though we weren’t allowed to test that. Still, a cursory search on YouTube will show you that this big Bentley can take plenty of off-road punishment. Not that you’ll let your AED 1.3 million Bentayga anywhere near the desert if you own one, mind.

How’s the interior?

This is a Bentley, so of course the interior is astonishing. Plush, quilted leather adorns the seats and side-sills, intricate stitchwork holds the materials together, and thick carpets cushion your feet. Our test model had the optional panoramic sunroof fitted, and it’s an option we recommend ticking – it’s a phenomenal piece of engineering, stretching all of the way to the back of the rear seats.

There are plenty of cubby holes in which to store your bits and pieces, and rear leg room is excellent – never mind the kids, the rear is fit for a government minister. And there’s a large, carpeted boot where the dog (or the mother of all shopping loads) can go. Naturally, it’s electronically operated.

Bentley Bentayga Dubai Review

What about the tech? That’s always been a little bit of a Bentley problem.

The Bentayga has been fitted with a more-than-capable eight-inch, touch-screen infotainment system that finally brings the Bentley range up to modern standards. Functionality-wise, it’s pretty standard Volkswagen Group stuff, meaning Bluetooth pairing and media playback is a cinch. Meanwhile, you can spec rear TV screens, and load up the on-board 60 GB hard drive with films to keep the kids entertained on long drives. There’s also adaptive cruise control, lane assist, an excellent 360-degree park assist system and a configurable TFT display in between the rev-counter and speed dial. It’s a far cry away from the tech issues on the Continental GT.

Dare I ask how much it’ll cost me to run one of these things?

Okay, you’re spending AED 1.3 million on your car. You don’t care about running costs. Still, in terms of fuel economy, you’re looking at 25.3 l/100 km. This means, at October fuel prices, you’ll be filling up the 85-litre fuel tank with Super 98 for AED 180 every 350 km or so. For insurance, you’ll be paying anywhere between AED 26,000 and AED 50,000 for a fully comprehensive policy. And, upon driving out the showroom, you’ll immediately knock something like AED 300,000 off the resale value.


Yeah, but, to be honest, this is arguably the most capable Bentley currently available. It may not have the sleek looks or the sportiness of the Continental GT, but it delivers so much more space, luxury and practicality that that’s a trade-off worth making. If you want a Bentley, this is probably the one to have.

Show me the specs.

Engine: 6.0-litre, twin-turbo W12
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Power: 600 bhp
0-100 km/h: 4.0 s
Top speed: 300 km/h
Price: AED 1.3 million
Dealer: Al Habtoor Motors

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