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Bentley's first entry into the booming SUV segment is the Bentayga, a model that offers the luxury the British brand is known for in a off-roader package brawny enough to hold its own on the trail.

What is it?
A distant cousin of the Audi Q7, the Bentayga is an ultra-luxurious off-roader that can be configured with five, four, or seven seats. It's also one of the fastest, most powerful SUVs on the market.

Designers attempted to reach a balance between sportiness and SUV presence, while making the Bentayga instantly recognizable as a Bentley. It carries several trademark features including a large grille, B-shaped wing vents, and floating LED headlights.

The Bentley "powerline" and the rear haunch are the biggest single-piece aluminum pressing in the automotive industry. Widespread use of the lightweight material helped engineer save 520 pounds, which boosts fuel economy and driving dynamics.

Life Aboard
As you'd rightfully expect from a car with a Bentley emblem on the trunk lid, the Bentayga feels like a palace on four wheels. The cabin is appointed with the softest leathers on the market, beautiful contrast stitching, and acres of wood trim that's mirror-matched for consistency.

The default configuration includes two individual front seats and a rear bench with room for three. Buyers who want to up the luxury quotient can order individual rear seats that are heated, cooled, and boast a recline function. Available picnic tablets integrated into the front seat backs accentuate the first class feeling. Alternatively, the five-seater Bentayga is available with a third-row seat best left to small children.

A large touch screen mounted on the center console groups the Bentayga's connectivity, entertainment, and navigation functions into a single easy-to-use unit. The graphics are above average, and there's not much of a learning curve involved with the system. Apple CarPlay connectivity is available, but note Android Auto doesn't work in the Bentayga.

Bentley's trick 48-volt suspension system ensures the body stays flat even under hard cornering, a trait appreciated by both drivers and passengers.

Technical Specifications
The Bentayga's heart is a mighty, twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine. It delivers 600 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Bentayga hits 60 mph from a stop in four seconds flat, and it goes on to a top speed of 187 mph. The eight-speed automatic can be left in drive, or the driver can select gears manually using shift paddles mounted on the back side of the steering wheel.

Bentley added a start/stop system, but fuel economy checks in 12 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 15 mpg on a combined cycle. You didn't think this was a Prius, did you?

Standard and Optional Features
The long list of standard features includes an air suspension, a choice of 17 exterior paint colors, 21-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, LED lighting, chrome trim all around, embroidered Bentley emblems on the seats, burr walnut veneer, a leather headliner, alloy pedals, an eight-inch touch screen with a 60GB hard drive, navigation, voice command technology, and a 10-speaker sound system.

The list of options includes 22-inch alloys, an electronically-retracting tow bar, veneered picnic tables, a heated steering wheel, a signature audio system, a rear-seat entertainment system, ambient lighting, a hands-free tailgate, and a Breitling clock with a mother of pearl face. Buyers can also work with Bentley's Mulliner division to create a one-of-a-kind Bentayga.

Occupant Safety
Every Bentayga comes with front, side, and curtain airbags in addition to driving aids like electronic traction control.

Key Competitors
Buyers looking to spend over a quarter of a million dollars on an SUV can look at a fully-loaded Mercedes-Benz G-Class or Land Rover Range Rover. Neither is quite as posh as the Bentayga because they're based on cheaper vehicles.

The segment is going to get really crowded. Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin are planning super-SUVs to rival Bentley, so shoppers will have more options in the coming years.
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