Bentley Bentayga Diesel 2017 Review

If you’re in the fortunate position of being able to throw a large heap of money at an uber-expensive family SUV, until now you were only able to spend up to a mere $300,000 or so. The Audi Q7-based Bentley Bentayga Diesel, once optioned up, can end up costing a cool $500,000-plus, and it brings with it a super-efficient and powerful diesel engine and an exclusive, sumptuous luxury experience. The Bentayga Diesel costs $335,000 plus on-road costs.

SUVs are the most popular new vehicle type in Australia, so it follows that even the super-wealthy might also favour these tall wagons.

Yet for such buyers, most luxury SUVs are a bit cheap and common. A $180,000 Range Rover? That’s a bit light-on when you’re familiar with dropping $400,000 or so on a Bentley Flying Spur as your daily hack.

When you have such wealth, there’s nothing very exclusive about brands like Range Rover or Mercedes-Benz either, when you can buy into either brand for around $50K or less.

Enter the Bentley Bentayga Diesel, the freshly arrived oil-burning ultra-luxury SUV that the British company believes will attract the majority of the 160 or so Bentaygas expected to be sold in Australia annually, putting it on track to become the brand’s biggest seller here.

Priced at $335,000, it’s almost $95K cheaper than the $427,300 Bentayga W12 petrol released last year.

Is the Bentayga Diesel really up to the job of conveying your family to a bucolic weekend at the country estate, and will it also be a better four-wheel drive than a Range Rover (as Bentley claims) for the occasional outing around the farm’s tracks? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Options galore
Well before you even think of setting a foot inside your new Bentayga Diesel, it must be specified to the appropriate level for such endeavours.

Naturally, the drive up to the farm should be as safe and convenient as possible, so taking the $16,245 Touring Specification is a given. It includes adaptive cruise control, head-up display, lane assist, night vision and traffic assist.

The reality is that the Bentayga will also spend much time in the city. Your French nanny will appreciate your ticking the City Specification option on the school run, with its park assist, pedestrian warning, reverse traffic warning and top view camera (a bargain at $11,354).

Jumping into the Bentayga for the two-hour drive to the farm, you can’t help but admire the exquisite attention to detail and materials used.

This is especially if you spoil yourself with the Mulliner Driving Specification With 22in Wheel option, which includes colour choice, diamond quilted seat and door leather, drilled alloy pedals and footrest, embroidered Bentley emblems and jewel fuel and oil caps, and costs a cool $40,812.

The Contrasting Stitching at an additional $4090 would be just the perfect finishing touch, although it really needs the addition of the Duo-Tone Steering Wheel ($937) with its contrasting stitching ($429) to really shine.

Speaking of shine, if the Dragon Red II paint really caught your eye on the demonstrator Bentayga it costs $11,798. Well worth it, you say, to better accentuate the Bentayga’s lines.

Sumptuous interior
Even though it’s unmistakably a Bentley, it’s by no means a pretty one, even though it looks better in the metal than photos.

It’s a better story inside, where the seats are supportive and comfortable with ample room in both the front and second rows.

But while the seats offer heating as standard, the aggressive peak-hour traffic out of the city would be much more relaxing with the Front Seat Comfort Specification with Ventilation and Massage ($7350).

You’ll need more than five seats to take the family to the farm. Thankfully, there is a seven-seat option ($7200), which gives sub-teenagers plenty of room in the third row, but given they are going to be strapping young teenagers soon enough, the foot and knee room by then will become tight for them.

Even with the third row seats in place, however, there’s ample room for a picnic basket or two in the back of this big wagon.

Of course the children won’t be happy without their electronic gadgets, so for the second row, the Bentley Rear Entertainment with Google Maps option ($14,064) is a must.

While the Bentayga is a large SUV, you’ll notice it doesn’t doesn’t appear to hog the whole lane as you thread your way out of the city, and throttle response is almost instantaneous and steering is direct.

In fact, it requires some effort to be smooth on the brake and throttle, as both are sensitive to inputs.

Average fuel consumption on the country run will hover around the 8.5L/100km mark – exceptionally good for such a heavy and powerful SUV.

Settling into a quiet freeway cruise, wind and engine noise are non-existent, while only a slight whirr can be heard from the 22-inch tyres spinning on the concrete road. The Bentayga’s active cruise control works much better than some such systems, buffering its distance to traffic ahead intuitively.

Off-road warrior – not

Getting onto the dirt, the Bentayga delivers a firm ride – even in the Comfort setting – although the air-spring suspension blots out big bumps well.

If you decide to take the Bentayga to check the fences down at the farm, you might be better served by the All-Terrain Specification ($13,641.13), which features Drive Dynamics Control, Luggage Management, Top View Camera With Auto-Dimming Door Mirrors and Underfloor Protection.

It’s the dedicated off-road traction control settings and underbody guards here that are key elements for off-roading.

As standard, the Bentayga’s underbody has all components tucked-up out of harm’s way, a four-level height-adjustable suspension offering a generous 245mm of ground clearance and what appears to be a fairly good traction control system.

Wading depth is a decent 500mm, with air intakes fed by slots in the upper grille area. Hill descent control is not great – it needs to be set-up for a descent by stopping or braking first. If you just hit the HDC button and roll over a crest at idle it’ll take several metres before it kicks in – by which time the Bentayga has already got a fair bit of momentum.

Ultimately the Bentayga is held back by its gearing; with a single-range transmission (the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS both offer dual-range), first gear overall reduction is around 13:1. It needs to be more like 35:1 to be an effective off-road crawler gear.

According to David Simpson, Bentley’s Retailer/Sales Manager Asia Pacific, the average options spend for Bentayga Diesel is around $50,000-$60,000. About 60 per cent of buyers are new to the brand, while the balance either have or have had another Bentley.

The Bentayga Diesel is an ideal family wagon when you have a large wedge of money burning a hole in your pocket. It offers a powerful and efficient engine, superb attention to detail and of course exclusivity over its competitors.

What it clearly doesn’t offer is value for money, with some options that should really be fitted as standard.

And despite the claims, true off-road ability isn’t part of its skill set, either – you’ll need a Range Rover or Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d (equipped with the dual-range transmission in its optional Off-Road Engineering pack) for that.

Bentley Bentayga Diesel pricing and specifications:
Price: $335,000 (plus ORCs)
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V8
Output: 320kW/900Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel: 7.9L/100km (EU Combined)
CO2: 210g/km (EU Combined)
Safety rating: N/A