The world’s first ultra-luxe SUV has arrived, creating a new standard of opulence for the millionaires and billionaires who demand gobs of power, acres of leather, and the ability to tower over plebeians while fording rivers or scaling dunes—even if they almost certainly won’t ever venture beyond the gravel road leading to the stable or dock. We first glimpsed the Bentayga in 2012, when Bentley unveiled the EXP 9 F concept at the Geneva auto show. Like many automakers, it saw an opportunity to give the filthy rich with a taste for SUVs something a little more exclusive than a Range Rover or Mercedes G500 to play with. The crew from Crew may be the first to market with a super premium truck—and let’s be honest, that’s what it is—but Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, and Lamborghini all have SUVs in the works.
Until the competition arrives, Bentley’s got the stage to itself with the Bentayga (the name comes from a rock formation on one of the Canary Islands) and can safely say it’s got the fastest production SUV on the planet, as well as the fanciest. It is axiomatic that a stupidly expensive SUV must also be stupidly powerful. And so Bentley developed a new twin-turbocharged 6-liter 12-cylinder engine that’s good for 600 horsepower and a locomotive-like 633 pound-feet of torque. Such numbers propel the 5,240-pound leviathan to 60 mph from a standstill in a Wowza-quick four seconds flat. That’s one-tenth slower than the Porsche Carrera S.
Top speed is an eyeball-compressing 187 mph, which puts it ahead of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, not to mention more pedestrian vehicles like the Ford Mustang GT or BMW M4. It’s so potent that Bentley plans to use it in future versions of the Continental and Flying Spur. For those who like to pretend their eco-conscious, Bentley will offer diesel and hybrid versions at some point.