Saturday, December 10, 2016
2017 Bentley Bentayga: A First Class Road Trip To New York City
It’s a shame that the New Jersey Turnpike won’t allow 180 mile-per-hour cruising speeds. If it did, I’d have the aluminum accelerator pedal of the Bentley buried into its deep pile carpet. The sport-ute’s twin-turbocharged W12 would be whirling near redline as the Woodrow Wilson, Joyce Kilmer, and Grover Cleveland service areas pass by in a blur. And my wife and two teenage children, accompanying me on the trip, would be blissfully napping in their massaging seats as we rocketed north towards New York City.
The nation’s sixth-busiest toll road technically has a speed limit of 65 miles-per-hour. It drastically slows our pace, but whether our road trip from Washington D.C. to the Big Apple takes two hours or five hours is trivial to my family as the four of us are blissfully cocooned inside the world’s fastest, most luxurious, and most exclusive sport utility vehicle on the planet — the all-new 2017 Bentley Bentayga.
Bentley has been handcrafting luxury motorcars for nearly a century, yet despite its extensive experience (and wins) with both road and race cars, it has never dabbled outside the coupe and sedan arena. Yet all that changed when the celebrated British automaker introduced the world to the Bentayga, its first full-size luxury crossover.
Confident that the all-new premium sport utility vehicle performs exceptionally well with two well-heeled passengers enjoying an evening at the opera, or with a pair of Middle East royals bounding over sand dunes, I chose to see how the crossover would do in the real world — a holiday road trip for a family of four, with full luggage, between two prominent East Coast cities.
Face-to-face, the Bentley has stage presence. It’s about the same size as the Land Rover Range Rover (its primary competitor) and Audi Q7, of which it shares common architecture (Bentley says that 80 percent of its parts are unique). Its look is distinctive, chic and unmistakable — sharply creased hydro-formed aluminum body panels, a traditional bright grille, and oversize jewel-like LED headlamps allow it to seamlessly fit in with the rest of the Bentley family.
My family travels efficiently, but not necessarily light. Cumulatively, the four of us were accompanied by five 22-inch roller suitcases and four carry-on bags (plus, the expected purses and backpacks). Bentley offers the Bentayga in four- or five-passengers variants (a seven-passenger version is in the works), with an interior capacity that about equals the standard-wheelbase competition.
The interior is best described as sumptuous ? assuming the passenger compartment of a mechanized vehicle may be defined as such. Every square inch of the cabin, except for the acoustic laminated glass and a few this-is-going-to-get-abused panels in the trunk, is swathed with the softest hides, polished wood, or brightly finished metal. The aromatic leather is everywhere — including the full headliner, pillars, and door sills (on each side of the Bentley kick plates).
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