2016 Bentley Bentayga joins the luxury SUV set with a 600-horse twin-turbo W-12

2016 Bentley Bentayga

The 2016 Bentley Bentayga shares Bentley design cues in grille and bodysides.

Bentley is jumping into the deep end with the new Bentley Bentayga, which it is billing as the “fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world.” They’re definitely taking a shot at you-know-who, another Brit SUV maker that has been the off-road transportation for the Queen.

Backing up Bentley’s most powerful claim are the details of the Bentayga’s powerplant. The Bentley Bentayga will be powered by an all-new twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W-12 producing a prodigious 600 horsepower that will be the most SUV anywhere by anyone, at least until the Jeep Grand Cherokee Hellcat materialized. The Bentley engine is still nothing at which to give a royal sniff. The Bentayga uses 663 lb. ft of torque to deliver a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph.

2016 Bentley Bentayga interior

The 2016 Bentley Bentayga interior is loaded with leather, veneer and technology. (click to enlarge)

The W-12 engine, to be built at the Bentley facility at Crewe, will have direct and port injection, which Bentley claims will provide the best features of each by functioning either individually or both at the same time. To maximize efficiency, the W-12 has a variable displacement system that shuts down half of the engine, deactivating intake and exhaust valves, ignition and fuel injection.

Another fuel saving technique is disengaging the transmission’s torque converter when cruising on the highway, allowing the engine to run at idle speed, an effect Bentley calls “sailing.” It functions in fifth through eighth gear only, and if the driver applies throttle, or the car detects that it’s going downhill—gaining speed with no throttle—the torque converter will reengage.

More than just motor, the Bentley Bentayga has a sophisticated suspension and power management system. The Bentayga comes standard with a Drive Dynamics Mode, and for those who actually plan to take the Bentayga seriously off-road or pretend they do, there’s an optional Responsive Off-Road Setting system. As with systems from Land Rover and Jeep, preprogrammed traction and suspension modes can be selected by turning a dial for various terrain features. Bentley says there will be “up to eight” modes. For extra ground clearance to keep the skid plate from unstylish scrape marks, he Bentayga has four different rid heights available, High 2, High 1, Normal and Low. High 2 is used for more severe off-road surfaces, and can be selected manually.

And so everyone knows what’s going on, a Driver Information Panel shows data on pitch, roll, wheel articulation, steering angle, compass bearing and altitude.

2016 Bentley Bentayga center console

The 2016 Bentley Bentayga various modes of operation are set by knobs on the center console. (click to enlarge)

Of course, the Bentley Bentayga will have adaptive cruise control for highway usage, plus a stop-and-go traffic jam mode. A predictive active cruise control system will use GPS data and maps to adjust cruise control settings for curves, speed limits, and such, allowing the driver to set the speed regardless of the road and just steer. Are we having fun yet?

Additionally and just because, the Bentayga will come standard with infrared night vision, rear cross-traffic alert, park assist, road sign recognition…all the usual stuff.

The Bentley Bentayga looks like a Bentley, with the distinctive Bentley grille. It flanked by dual “floating” LED headlights. The Bentley SUV has an SUV’s two-box shape, with distinctive swollen rear fenders—Bentley calls them “haunches”—among the largest aluminum stampings in the industry. By extensive use of aluminum, and “advanced design, innovative engineering and state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies,” Bentley claims more than 500 pounds saving over what the Bentayga would otherwise weigh.

But it’s still an SUV…with a “stylish skid plate [in] the lower section of the front bumper, just below the floating wing motif.” Just in case you run into any stylish rocks.

However, one will not be getting in the Bentayga with muddy boots—or, we hope, muddy wingtips. The interior will have the usual Bentley hand-picked veneers, and hides from bulls raised cool European countries where we presume they never sweat. They’re naturally tanned and never over-printed (to hide defects), and the leather 15 colors for the leather to be dyed, along with three duo-tone and one single mono-tone color split. There are 15 carpet options and seven handcrafted veneers.

2016 Bentley Bentayga

The 2016 Bentley Bentayga is relatively mundane except for Bentley B taillights. (click to enlarge)

The front seats are 22-way powered (we can’t imagine what all changes), while the rear seats have a mere 18 adjustments. The fronts also have a six-program massage system, plus naturally, seat heating and ventilation.

Outside, the standard palette includes 17 exterior paint colors, with 90 hues available in the extended range. Plus there are bespoke (they said it) Bentayga alloy wheels, 20 to 22 inches.

The Bentley Bentayga will be followed by an SUV from Rolls-Royce, being developed by Rolls under the code name Cullinan. No date has been set for the production R-R SUV, and the Bentley will be joined in the luxury SUV line by luxury off-roaders from Jaguar, the F-Pace, deputing at Frankfurt in September 2015, and Maserati Levante, is said to be revealed at Detroit in 2016. The Bentayga will be delivered to customers in early 2016.

The Range Rover Sport Autobiography we recently tested carried a $104,000 price sticker, brought to you by the most experienced maker of luxury off-road vehicles. No prices have been set as of this writing for the newcomers, but educated guesses put the Bentley Bentayga at over $200,000. Talk about the deep end…