Yes, at £160,200, the Bentley is more expensive and there’s plenty of room to make that price start with a two. But whereas the Range Rover feels like it’s being pushed out of its comfort zone, the Bentayga is barely getting into its stride.
Is it better to drive, though? Yes, if you accept the premise that it should do more things than the Range Rover. Because if you want the best-riding, most comfortable car, then the Range Rover is the one. It has a long-travel throttle pedal and easy, oily steering – maybe a bit too little self-centring around straight ahead – and that contributes to what makes an exceedingly relaxing gait. If I were going to trust a 94-year-old with the president of the US in any car, this’d be right up there. It would most likely smooth out surface imperfections better were it not on 22in wheels, but you hear, rather than feel, most bad surfaces. And the engine, which has been tweaked up to Range Rover Sport SVR spec with 542bhp, sounds magnificent.
It isn’t as quick as the Bentley, though. There’s a touch of lag at low revs in the Bentayga, but then it really charges. The claim is that, at 4.0sec, it’s 1.1sec quicker to 60mph from rest than the Range Rover. The SVAutobiography’s more immediate, supercharged response doesn’t always make it feel that way, but after a brief turbo spool, the Bentley flies.
To try to manage all it’s supposed to do, the Bentayga gets three chassis modes: Comfort, Sport and Bentley, a recommended middle ground that’s closer to Sport than Comfort. It’s a bit too close for my liking – we’re on 22in wheels again, which probably doesn’t help – but even in Comfort, it can’t deflect bumps quite as well as the Range Rover. It does it well enough, though, and if you ask a lot of it on a winding road, the payback is there. Body control is tight and the steering direct, and although it’s a touch nose-heavy, the way it grips and goes is pretty remarkable. Like the off-road capability, that dynamic prowess probably won’t get put to the test all that often, but it’s good to know it’s there.
Does the Bentayga’s do-everything status compromise it? Undoubtedly. Remove any one of the three things it’s supposed to be – luxurious, sporting and versatile cross-country – and it’d be able to do the remaining two even better. And with a V8, it might sound nicer (it’s unremarkable as it stands) and feel more agile.
But although this might not be the perfect Bentayga, it does enough to see off what is not the perfect Range Rover. Inside, the SVAutobiography feels too Accessorize diamante to be comfortable at £150k, whereas the Bentayga is entirely happy where it is. The Range Rover is a better car at a far more reasonable price. The Bentley is the only – and by definition, best – luxury 4x4. And it’d take an impressive car to beat it.