Since the Bentley Bentayga first launched all the way back in early 2016, there have been dozens upon dozens of reviews of it – including from us. So, when Bentley was keen on giving me the perfect keys to a 2022 Bentayga Speed, I had to come up with something new and interesting to do with it. Then I realized my loan would coincide perfectly with Penn State’s (my alma mater) Blue-White weekend. Let the games commence!
For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically our university’s spring game. However, the weekend isn’t really all about the game. It’s really about hanging out with a bunch of your buddies in a field, playing games and vibing. It’s about tailgating. That, my dear reader, is where the Bentayga comes in.
So, I put the $300,000 SUV to the tailgating test.
(Full Disclosure: Bentley lent me this Bentayga Speed complete with a half tank of gas to play around with for a long weekend. ALSO: No drinking and driving happened during the course of this article. Don’t drink and drive.)
Spoiler alert: It’s pretty darn good at it. I mean, we really crammed this leather, alcantara and wood-filled cabin with just about all the essentials you could ever need to put on a good tailgate in the middle of a Pennsylvanian field. Some of those essentials included a table, chairs, retractable gazebo tent thing, a cooler, food and drink plus bedding for the two night’s we’d be crashing on Linsey’s floor. You guys don’t know Linsey. She’s cool, though.
It should be said that our friend and her boyfriend also came with another car – a WK Grand Cherokee – so we could go doublewide and fit in even more crap (mostly another table and a portable grill).
To fit everything in the back of the Bentayga, we had to lower the left- and middle-rear seats. This was a cinch because of an easy-to-use metal lever at the base of the seat that pops them right down. After that, there was a little struggle getting the automated rear hatch to close without interference from stuff packed inside. As it turns out, the sloped roof does rob the luxury-mobile of some cargo room. Nevertheless, with a little ingenuity we were able to finally fit everything inside.
My roommate, my girlfriend Kara, and I set off from my parents house in northern New Jersey. Route 80 was calling, and the Bentayga was ready to answer.
The highway is where the Bentayga shines like nothing else. The reasons for that are twofold. The first is its nuclear power plant of an engine. I was lucky enough to be sampling a Bentayga Speed, and “speed” is truly the operative word. Its twin-turbo 6-liter W12 battleaxe doesn’t accelerate. It advances forward like an airplane on the runway into takeoff. I’ve never felt anything like it, and neither had my passengers. I suppose that’s what 626 horsepower, 664 pound-feet of torque and 0-60 in under four seconds in a vehicle that weighs the better part of 5,600 pounds will do.
As also expected, I got some less-than-stellar gas mileage on my trip, averaging 16.3 miles per gallon. It’s guaranteed to put a real dent in your wallet, especially with today’s gas prices. However, if you’ve got $300,000 to spend on a car, the pains at the pump really doesn’t matter in the slightest.
The second reason the Bentayga shines on the highway is due to the fact that it’s so damn quiet. We were cruising at [NUMBER REDACTED] and could whisper to each other. All you heard was a vague road/wind noise somewhere deep in the background. This again conjured up more flying comparisons.
My thoughts kept coming back to that old adage of you getting what you pay for, and I suppose in this case, you do. This Bentayga Speed clocked in at $298,675… which is a lot of money. In fact, it almost makes the Range Rover look like a bargain by comparison. However, that number isn’t exactly fair. In theory, you can get a Bentayga starting at $160,000, but that car does not exist. My Speed, on the other hand, starts at $245,000. That means there were $41,150 in options and another $2,725 in Gas Guzzler charges tacked on.
It all seems like a rather large number really, especially when you consider the fact there were some very, very Audi materials inside… and the goddamn piano black. I hate piano black. There are so many beautiful wood veneers to choose from for a Bentayga. Why on God’s green Earth would you go with piano black? After just five days it was dis-gus-ting. Anyway, it’s just not my taste.
The seats were sublime front and back. The front were adjustable in nearly a bajillion ways, heated and cooled with added massaging (Oh man, the massage function.) We all need this in our lives.
The seats themselves were covered in very nice dead cows with alcantara centers. Would it have been my first choice for a luxury cruise missile? Probably not, but man do they hold you in just right. You feel important when you’re sitting in them, and you are. You own a Bentayga, after all. The beautifully embroidered Speed also reminds you that you ponied up the extra 100 large for the big engine. It’s little things like that which you really just gotta appreciate.
Something else I appreciate? The fact Bentley took the time to put a little alcantara covered pad near where your right knee rests while driving. This is becoming a bit of a crusade for me. All cars should have this little pad, and I won’t stop complaining until they do.
Overall, the Bentayga had just the right amount of tech inside. I say that because it all sort of floats to the background. It isn’t in your face like so many modern cars. It all just... works. The digital screen is crisp and not overbearing in the dark. It can be customized to your liking, but it never felt overwhelming. The heads-up display also worked aces. the radar cruise worked a treat, though you have to do that annoying thing of pressing the gas pedal a little bit to get it going again.
My favorite little party trick was undoubtedly the removable screen in the second row that would let you control all sorts of things, such as the ambient colors and radio stations. It was possibly the most well screwed-together handheld device I’ve ever used. It felt better than literally any cellphone I’ve ever held. It was so perfectly weighted. It could probably be used as a weapon if need be.
Overall, the tech all worked well for the most part. It should be said I had a hiccup with the 360 camera. One day – for no apparent reason – it just glitched over and over. It would not work. The next morning, I came to the car and it was right as rain again. Who’s really to say what happened?
As you can imagine, we arrive at the fields with the Bentley and we are getting all the looks. I mean, how often do you see a Bentayga full of children heading to a tailgate field? The answer is never.
We claim our spot between Ram 1500s and Chevy Silverados. We’re a very posh sore thumb. A few people come up and ask to take a closer look. I can’t blame them, I would too.
The entire time, the Bentayga proves it not only can work as a tailgate rig, but it actually excels at it. Fitting all of our stuff was sort of a bare minimum. It’s really everything about the Bentley itself that sets it apart. The first example of this is the rear suspension you can lower from the trunk of the car. On the face of it, it seems like a bit of a gimmick, but when you’re short and want to sit on the bumper while talking to friends, it really comes in handy.
Something else the Bentayga offers as a tailgating rig is that actually came in handy was its plethora of drive modes for light-off roading. The pathway up to the tailgate lots is some slightly loose and bumpy gravel, and once you got onto the slick grass, it’s not uncommon to see cars sliding and slipping wheels. Not in the Bentayga, however. Flick the drive selector knob (that sits around the perfect starter button) into gravel mode, and it makes these light, but slippery trails, a piece of cake.
However, the biggest thing was the massaging seats. I’ve talked about it a few times before, but my back is just terrible. So, at one point I escaped the madness and took a small break in the front seats of the Bentayga, getting a deep tissue shoulder massage all the while. It was brilliant. Again, you get what you pay for.
I can’t think of anything else I could have wanted from the day. My girlfriend and some of my best friends by my side and a classy, expensive automobile to drive around and show off to people who never get to see these things up close. It was near-perfect.
Okay, there’s one thing I would have wanted: a real wood veneer on the inside. Did I mention I hate piano black?