A first look at Bentley’s tough, tender SUV

by | Automotive, Design

by ROB BRINKLEY | photographs by WILL GRAHAM

Let’s get the most urgent FYI about Bentley’s new Bentayga, its first SUV, out of the way: One can order a fitted picnic hamper for the cargo compartment. No wobbly wicker basket, this: We’re talking three leather-wrapped boxes which click into place, brimming with plates, cups, saucers, flatware and a picnic blanket (of cashmere, you should know). One box holds custom champagne flutes and can cradle two bottles of bubbly — and will chill them to a perfect 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where do we go from here? If you insist. The stately machine is the fastest production SUV on the planet, pulled by a 6-liter engine goosed by twin turbochargers. In the time you’ll finish this sentence, it could’ve catapulted you from a full stop at a red light to 60 swift miles per hour — it’s that fast. It can whoosh along at nearly 190, aided by standard and optional drive systems including one that adjusts for eight surfaces and road conditions at the turn of a dial. Inside conditions are sublime, with handmade goodies galore: veneered woods, metal trim, everything. There is so much leather sewn into a Bentayga that one can smell the hides from 10 feet away when a door is open. (We field-tested this.) We got a look at the capable beast when it came to Bentley Dallas for one day only — for prospective clients and for those who have plunked down a deposit without having laid eyes on one — and can report that the thing is bloody loaded. Massage seats for everyone. Android tablets for the rear passengers. Status for days. The price of entry is $229,000 and climbs quickly from there — almost as fast as the Bentayga can scurry up the Matterhorn. (And certainly up to the front door of the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.)