2021 Bentley Bentayga review

The facelifted Bentley Bentayga V8 continues to offer a bold, plush proposition that will keep it a favourite amongst the wealthy.

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James Wong
Production Editor
PROS
  • Distinctive looks and plush cabin now with more rear seat space
  • Burbly twin-turbo V8 offers muscular performance
  • GT levels of comfort and everyday usability
CONS
  • Still some obvious links to the Audi Q7
  • Certain options blow out the price tag to well over $400,000
  • Can't hide its weight when things get twisty

The Bentley Bentayga has quickly become the go-to luxury car for celebrities and sports people, and regularly gets name-dropped in rap.

While many scoffed when Bentley announced an SUV based on underpinnings shared with the Volkswagen Touareg, the Bentayga’s practicality, go-anywhere promise, and distinctive design are a perfect fit in a crossover-hungry world.

Now, the Bentley Bentayga has been treated to a significant mid-life refresh for 2021 – six years after its introduction – focusing on design, technology, and rear-seat packaging in an effort to stay the global sales leader against new rivals from the likes of Lamborghini, Mercedes-Maybach, and Rolls-Royce.

The line-up has also been rejigged, with the Bentayga Diesel dropped in favour of a new Hybrid (PHEV), and the Bentayga Speed becoming the sole W12. Timing and pricing for the plug-in hybrid haven’t been confirmed for our market just yet.

Australia will first get the ‘entry-level’ Bentayga V8 petrol, available in standard or highly-optioned First Edition guise which brings a raft of optional equipment for $83,000 over base price.

We had a quick spin in the 2021 Bentley Bentayga V8 at the Australian media launch in Northern Victoria to find out if it’s any good.

How much does the Bentley Bentayga cost?

The 2021 Bentley Bentayga V8 is launching with two core versions – the ‘standard’ model, as well as a highly-specified First Edition.

Pricing for each is as follows:

  • 2021 Bentley Bentayga V8: $364,800
  • 2021 Bentley Bentayga V8 First Edition: $448,219

All prices exclude on-road costs

The First Edition is “available only for a limited period from launch”, including a range of “Bentley’s most desirable options as standard”. More on inclusions in the next section.

In the coming months the V8 Bentayga will be joined by a more powerful Bentayga W12 Speed flagship, as well as a plug-in Bentayga Hybrid.

Timing, pricing and specifications for the latter two variants are still to be confirmed. Stay tuned to CarExpert for updates.

What do you get?

Being a boutique, luxury-branded product, the Bentayga covers the basics while allowing buyers to really tailor specifications to their personal taste.

Key standard inclusions are:

  • 21-inch alloy wheels (five twin-spoke design)
  • Adaptive air suspension
  • Matrix LED headlights with High Beam Assist
  • LED tail lights
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Panoramic sunroof (tilt/slide)
  • Alcantara headliner
  • Crown Cut Walnut interior veneer
  • 16-way electric front seats with memory
  • Electric steering column adjustment with memory
  • Heated front seats
  • Four-zone climate control
  • Five-seat configuration
  • 12.3-inch Driver’s Information Panel (digital instrument cluster)
  • 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment with gesture control
  • Satellite navigation with 3D mapping
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless)
  • Wireless phone charge pad
  • DAB radio
  • Bluetooth
  • 4G WiFi hotspot
  • Bentley Signature Audio (590W, 12 speakers)
  • Powered tailgate
  • 7 x standard exterior paint options
  • 5 x standard “premium hide” interior colour options (mono-tone)

As is the way for the upper luxury segments, the list of options and packages is longer than your arm, and many options can cost an arm and a leg.

We’ve already noted the First Edition Specification ($83,419), which adds the following highlights:

  • Mulliner Driving Specification (includes 22-inch black painted, diamond-turned alloy wheels)
  • Touring Specification (adaptive cruise, head-up display, Night Vision)
  • Naim for Bentley premium audio (1780W, 20 speakers)
  • Bentley Dynamic Ride (48V active anti-roll bars)
  • First Edition badging
  • Interior mood lighting
  • Front Seat Comfort Configuration
  • Illuminated treadplates
  • LED welcome lights by Mulliner
  • Deep pile floor mats
  • Sports pedals

Noteworthy standalone options include:

  • Blackline Specification (black pack, darkened lights): $14,107
  • Bentley Dynamic Ride: $10,546
  • Carbon-ceramic brakes with black calipers: $30,852
  • 7 Seat Specification: $7407
  • Touring Specification: $16,816

Paint options range from $12,212 for the ‘Extended Range’ of solid and metallic finishes, ranging to a whopping $60,803 for satin finishes from the Mulliner Range. Ouch.

Is the Bentley Bentayga safe?

The Bentley Bentayga hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but its platform mates – the Audi Q7/Q8, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg – have all been awarded five-star safety ratings by one or both organisations (the Porsche only carries a Euro NCAP rating).

For 2021 the Bentayga includes Bentley’s ‘City Specification’ as standard, which includes the following active safety equipment:

  • City Safeguard (low-speed AEB)
  • Pedestrian and cyclist warning
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Park assist (semi-autonomous parking aid)
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • 360-degree camera system

The company offers a higher-end Touring Specification, which is quoted as a $16,816 option. This package adds:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Bentley Safeguard Plus (high-speed AEB)
  • Head-up display
  • Lane assist
  • Night vision cameras
  • Traffic assist (stop/go function for adaptive cruise)

Given most of the Bentayga’s siblings feature much of the Touring Specification standard, it’s disappointing it’s a pricey option for what is a family vehicle.

The Bentayga also comes fitted with a suite of airbags, including dual front, curtain, and side airbags for both rows of seating.

What is the Bentley Bentayga like on the inside?

Bentley has done its best to make sure the Bentayga doesn’t feel like a tarted-up Q7. In many ways it has succeeded… in some ways it hasn’t.

If you’re familiar with the Bentayga’s relatives, you’ll notice the steering wheel, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and 10.9-inch central touchscreen are all Audi units, though each has received a layer of Bentley garnish.

The steering wheel, for example, is very similar to the unit used in the A4 but the beautiful leather and additional stitching details are a cut above. Likewise the glossy black buttons and the knurled rotary controls.

It’s a similar story throughout the rest of the cabin, with family ties evident but wrapped in lavish hides and immaculate stitching. The vehicle you in our images has the ‘Diamond Brushed Aluminium’ veneer, which has lovely detailing that plays with light, though there’s a range of wood trims as well as piano black and carbon-fibre available.

Everything you can touch or see is lined in leather and soft to touch, with the sense of quality and craftsmanship clear right down to the lovely deep-pile carpet mats that are standard on the First Edition and optional on the base car.

There’s plenty of chrome and real metal highlights, as well as more knurled switchgear which is a Bentley hallmark. Also a hallmark is the analogue clock sitting atop the double-winged dash. It’s all very nice.

Storage hasn’t suffered either, with a large shelf under the centre stack concealing the wireless smartphone charge pad, deep door pockets with carpet lining, and a deep cubby under the split front-centre armrest.

In terms of the digital displays, Bentley has laid its own skin over what appears to be Audi’s MMI infotainment, which is different enough to not look like the Q7/Q8 interface.

One complaint is that the digital instrument cluster lacks the customisability of other Volkswagen Group brands, and the dials have a weird animation that puts little line markers as the speed and revs climb. It just clutters up the otherwise clean look.

Unlike some other MLB Evo-based vehicles (ahem, Q7 and Touareg), the Bentayga has retained the bulk of its buttons and dials for the infotainment and HVAC controls on the centre stack. Call me old-fashioned, but it feels a little more like home having physical switchgear, and more befitting of the Bentley brand.

We didn’t spend much time in the second row, but Bentley claims to have liberated up to 100mm more legroom compared to the outgoing model (depending on configuration) and more recline thanks to a redesigned seat frame.

As before, four-, five- and seven-seat specifications are available, with the former offering a limo-style centre console setup, with convenience features like rear-seat heating/ventilation. Even massaging is available depending on the rear-seat configuration specified.

There’s a new pop-out rear tablet dubbed the Touch Screen Remote (TSR), allowing rear passengers to adjust their climate control, ambient lighting, seat heating/ventilation as well as massaging functions. Nifty.

Further, there’s a USB charge point and 12V socket in the rear, as well as airplane-style fold-out map pockets, and bottle holders in the doors.

Behind the second row there’s 484L in the five-seat Bentayga, expanding to 1774L with the rear seats folded. The four-seat model quotes 392L behind the rear seats, while the seven-seat model offers 213L behind the third row.

A space-saver spare wheel lives under the boot floor – but who’s changing their own tyre in one of these anyway?

What’s under the bonnet?

Powering the Bentley Bentayga V8 is – you guessed it – a V8 petrol. To be more specific, it’s the familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 shared with various models on the same platform, including the Audi RSQ8, Lamborghini Urus as well as the Porsche Cayenne GTS and Turbo.

In the Bentley, the motor produces 404kW (6000rpm) and 770Nm (1960-4500rpm) – the same outputs as the Cayenne Turbo.

Unlike the Audi, the Bentayga doesn’t have 48V mild-hybrid technology, but does feature a cylinder on-demand system that can shut off half the cylinders under low engine load to improve efficiency.

Drive is sent to all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, teamed with a Torsen centre differential and an open rear diff with electronic lock.

Bentley claims the 2416kg (kerb, five-seater) can dash from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 290km/h (180mph).

The idea of a 2416kg luxury bus hurtling towards the horizon at 290km/h is slightly terrifying – luckily the standard 400mm front and 380mm rear brakes with six-piston front calipers stop the car, well with 440mm/370mm front/rear carbon-ceramic units with 10-piston fronts available as an option.

Fun fact, the optional units are currently the largest brakes fitted to a production car.

How does the Bentley Bentayga drive?

A Bentley is meant to be fast, comfortable and quiet. The Bentayga lives up to these hallmarks, mostly.

Fire up the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and you’ll hear a very subtle burble from the insulated cabin, though from the outside and it has an almost clattery ‘chug chug chug’ to it. Old school.

We only sampled the vehicle for about 40 minutes on a relatively short route near Mickleham in Victoria’s north, over a mix of country roads and some more suburban sections.

Immediately you get a commanding feeling from the Bentayga. You’re perched quite high, the controls are all light, and engine performance is effortless with moderate inputs – and almost brutal at full tilt.

Bentley’s representatives said most customers like hearing the sound of its V8 or W12 engines under hard throttle but prefer the serenity in normal driving. That character really translates here.

You barely hear the engine in normal driving, only a most subtle V8 burble comes into the cabin as the eight-speed auto shifts around the 2500-3000rpm mark.

The adaptive air suspension is super wafty and comfortable in setting, firming up a bit in Bentley mode, and really hunkering down in Sport. You can also configure your own mode with the Individual setting.

On straight, pimpled country roads the Bentayga is supremely comfortable and relatively well insulated from the outside world. With the optional 22-inch wheels on the vehicle we tested, there was a slight bit of tyre roar on rougher bitumen.

Even in its most aggressive setting, however, the ride never crashes, the cabin is never unrefined, and the you benefit from more confident handling and more urgent throttle response with some bangs out the exhaust on upshifts.

You can escape the Bentayga’s heft, though. Even with four ride height settings through the air suspension, 285/40 R22 rubber, and adaptive dampers, the Bentley SUV is never going to feel as sharp as a Lamborghini Urus. It’s a Bentley at the end of the day, designed to be a high-riding grand tourer.

The 48V active anti-roll bars do a good job at minimising body roll in faster corners, though at times it can be jarring because you’re expecting natural body movement which never actually comes. You may feel like the car isn’t responding to steering inputs even though it is.

It’s also massive. At 5125mm long, 1998mm wide and with a 2995mm wheelbase, the Bentayga is 62mm longer and 28mm wider than the Audi Q7.

Thank goodness for surround cameras and dipping side mirrors, because without them those big wheels and liquorice-thin tyres would be kissing the kerb a lot.

Our test vehicle was optioned with the Touring Specification, meaning it had the full suite of driver assists and active safety equipment. If you’ve driven an Audi Q7 or Q8, the lane-keep and adaptive cruise systems operate pretty much identically.

If anything, the best part of the drive experience is the feeling you get.

The Bentayga makes you feel tall, safe and secure on the road, perfect for cross-country touring or bullying little hatchbacks out of your way in traffic. Plus, bury your right foot and you’ll rocket towards the horizon, making overtakes a breeze.

How much does the Bentley Bentayga cost to run?

Like the wider Bentley range, the Bentayga is covered by the marque’s three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the same period.

It’s on the shorter side when you consider some of the premium marques are moving to five-year coverage, but it’s also not unusual for the luxury segment.

As for servicing, Bentley has recently launched three- and five-year service plans in Australia, priced at $3950 and $7695 respectively for the Bentayga V8.

You can read more about the service plans here.

While our test loop was short and not indicative of real-world conditions, Bentley claims the Bentayga will use 13.3L/100km, with 98RON premium unleaded required as a minimum.

The 85L tank equates to a theoretical driving range of 639km.

CarExpert’s Take on the Bentley Bentayga

As someone who tends to be more pragmatic towards car purchases, the Bentayga initially didn’t make a lot of sense to me personally.

Why pay all this money for a vehicle that shares its bones with lower-grade but still very nice vehicles that cost a fraction of the price?

With a proper stint behind the wheel and a better understanding of what the brand is all about, it’s clear that you cannot really buy any luxury product with your head as opposed to your heart.

Yes, some of the options are ridiculous, yes, you’ll make a statement in traffic, and yes you can get stuff like the active anti-roll bars in a Volkswagen Touareg, but that’s not really the point.

It’s a Bentley at the end of the day: luxurious, comfortable, fast, and practical in day-to-day use.

Love it or hate it, it delivers on its promise.

Click on the images for the full gallery

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OVERALL RATING8
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 7
Ride Comfort 9
Fit for Purpose 9.5
Handling Dynamics 7.5
Interior Practicality and Space 9
Fuel Efficiency 7
Value for Money 7
Performance 8
Technology Infotainment 8