The combination is capable, to be sure, but disconcerting at first. The lack of body roll is remarkable, even if the Bentayga’s 5,096-pound curb weight (in the Euro-spec models we were driving) is nearly 10 percent less than that of, say a Continental GTC Speed. Bentley says it’s side-to-side roll that causes motion sickness for passengers in spirited driving. But the vertical motion allowed by the suspension leaves the Bentayga heaving and diving on acceleration and braking, counter to drivers’ instincts; it’s incredibly brisk, but ultimately, you’ll want to settle in to a saner, more civilized pace.
But what do you do when the pavement ends and you want to keep going? You keep right on going. Simply reach back down to the same knob that adjusts on-road performance and select from one of four off-road modes to get the most desirable mix of traction control for Snow & Grass, Dirt & Gravel, Mud & Trail, or Sand Dunes. Need a bit more ground clearance? The Bentayga offers four ride heights, including two higher modes for off-roading.
And off-road it will, within reason. The Bentayga offers a surprising amount of wheel articulation, grappling with Spanish clay like a puma headed up a tree, but the approach and (especially) departure angles are somewhat restricted due to the amount of front and rear overhang—a problem exacerbated on Sport package vehicles, which add a clearance-reducing chin spoiler and rear diffuser (as well as a rear wing and some other bits) in carbon fiber. If anything, its ability will exceed the mettle of its owners—saving perhaps those in Dubai, who will be bashing them through the dunes alongside their modified Land Cruisers and Range Rovers, says Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer.
If the accommodations at the other end of your trek should prove inadequate, fear not, for you can bring your own with you, thanks to the Bentayga’s substantial 7,716-pound tow rating. That’s just a tick under the truck-based Cadillac Escalade’s capacity, for reference, in a $229,000 SUV built on an architecture shared with the 2017 Audi Q7.
Though Bentley would have you call it the Bentley of SUVs, a day in the driver’s seat gives us a more specific understanding of where the Bentayga fits in the Bentley universe: this isn’t the Mulsanne of SUVs; it’s the Continental. But it’s one hell of a Continental—and just wait for the Speed.