Words: Syed Galib, Pictures Ayan Rahman Khan
It promises a stunning mix of luxury and pace, but can the new Bentley Bentayga knock out the ultimate Range Rover?
With SUVs rising in popularity, it was only a matter of time before the luxury brands of the world got into a battle for more spirited products for the elite. Bentley with the new Bentayga is the first business to enter the market.
This is the first of a new series of luxury SUVs, but here it is faced with an existing one which was revised to this new wave. The Range Rover has defined the standard of SUV luxury for more than 40 years and is now being further improved by the SVAutobiography.
Will the Range Rover sit at the height of the luxurious SUV? Or is the Bentayga taking elegance, efficiency and exclusivity to a new level?
Head to Head
Buyers can spec their Bentayga exactly how they like. For added fee, Bentley offers 15 regular metallics and 90 exclusive shades. If you are interested in a particular paint, the company will fit the car and the leather and veneer in the cabin can also be customized.
There are eight wheel options in 20 and 21-inch sizes, while you can colour code the lower bodywork, remove the roof rails, add extra chrome trim or upgrade to different Specification packages, all for extra cost.
There are two wheel options on the Range Rover SVAutobiography – a 21-inch polished design or the 22-inch dark grey rims – plus fixed or sliding panoramic roof options. These can all be had at no extra cost, while Land Rover offers 42 body colors.
Again, standard metallic are included, but Spectral paint, which changes color according to the light, costs £8,285. Also, you can get Dual Tone colors for £9,315; these feature black paint from the beltline up and a choice of nine colors for the lower half of the car. These options are exclusive to the SVAutobiography model.
What are they like to drive?
Around town, the gentle Range Rover with its 22 inch wheels and improved suspension makes it credibly sporty and more comfortable than Bentayga, compared to the smaller Range Rover. A soaring driving position makes you feel like you are riding an elephant with a canopy, and the high glass and upright panel offers a real sense of room that you just don’t recognize in the Bentley.
But the Bentayga plays the performance car role more convincingly. You sense the huge mass travelling with you at every attempt to turn or slow it. But its dynamic superiority over its rival is never in doubt.
You have Lunch trays plus the champagne bottle chiller concealed with electrified doors and a separate refrigerator under the armrest. Seating with at least a dozen electrical settings including several back massages, doors with self-closing, seating, a pair of seats we will never figure out.
The seats of the Range Rover are too firm and the lower front covers are short, which lead to burning naps. The back trunks are luxurious, and there is ample space to lift the big leg rest, but there is little comfort at all. The lighter padding in the Bentley will help here more. A full complement of off-roading hardware and software plus control-tower outward visibility make the Ranger the more expedition-ready of the two.
The Bentayga gets the four-bucket executive seating divided by a hefty center console which, alas, lacks motorized lunch tables or a champagne chiller. It does have much more usable tablet-style rear monitors and a fancy Naim stereo system through which you can hear the nose-hair rustling of the newsreaders on Bangladesh Betar.
The Bentley is exceptionally quite. Start the engine and nothing. Where the Rover transmits the slightest shakes of actual internal combustion the Bentley is as quite as a Manchester United fan this season.
This is why you pay the Bentley’s big bucks, this plus the exceptionally comfortable seats and the performance stats, which are simply unbelievable.
Verdicts are not coming any closer, but the win goes to the Range Rover. SVAutobiography is now the set standard in the world of luxury SUVs. The standard of the interior is the same as the Bentley with even more surprise and fun. It isn’t as quick and flexible as its contenders, but it’s still quick and composed searingly and off-road is polished and unmatched. This is the ultimate luxury SUV.
The Bentayga represents a strong first SUV effort for Bentley. Explosive performance, agile handling and strong refinement are major strengths, as is the ability to tailor the car’s looks and interior. It just doesn’t have the Range Rover’s sense of occasion or kit count. The Bentayga is hugely polished, but it drives too much like a top-spec Audi Q7, which costs a lot less.