The 2023 Bentley Bentayga S is more than just a luxury car; it’s a private jet for the road. Such is its opulence, and the “as tested” $535,000 price tag, that the only thing missing are some wings and an air host or hostess.
From its striking design to its sheer size, the Bentley Bentayga S is hard to miss. With an updated front end, with even larger crystal matrix LED headlights, as well as a more aggressive yet sophisticated front bumper, it’s a work of art.
The safety tech is very cleverly hidden where you’d expect to find fog lights too. The most notable changes though are at the rear, with the demise of the rectangular headlights, in their place a more pleasing choice, debuted on the First Edition of the V8 variant.
To complement those exquisite rear taillights, Bentley has also relocated the rear licence plate to enhance the overall look and design of the rear end, allowing more room to spell out the brand name across the tailgate.
Inside, an updated and larger infotainment display is now standard, along with a redesigned dash layout. This though is no standard Bentley Bentayga. Instead, we’re rolling in the new S variant, a model that caters for those with a sporting bent.
A fresh look has been achieved by blacking out all the exterior trim that was once chrome to give the SUV a more sinister feel. That includes the window trim, a now more aggressive front lip, door mirrors and even the front and rear light surrounds.
Where you would usually find the Bentayga’s subtle yet conservative rear diffuser, you now find a more supercar-like version that is also finished off in black, alongside the quad tailpipes and a more prominent rear spoiler.
The only thing left in chrome is the Bentley logo and the spelling of Bentley on the boot. Our test vehicle was also fitted with the Carbon Pack, adding a carbon fibre rear spoiler and side skirts (that are big enough to be mistaken for side steps).
The Bentayga S also gets exclusive 22-inch alloy wheels and red brake callipers, with a now more free flowing exhaust for a beefier note. To be fair though, you can literally customise your Bentley anyway you want.
There’s a literally infinite choice of paint colours and to list all the interior and exterior combinations and accessories and options would make this an encyclopaedia length review – so we won’t make you suffer that. Just build your own on the Bentley website.
The colour by the way, is Dragon Red, and we do love it, mostly because it throws conservative out the window. You’ll find it inside too, as the interior reflects the striking exterior with a combination of red and black leather, and Alcantara.
It’s here that your senses are ignited as you touch and smell the goodness that is a Bentley Bentayga interior. Instantly you realise you are in a special car, from its retro dash design to its stunning use of hand stitched Hotspur and Beluga leather.
The leather itself comes from Northern Europe, where the cows are hand-picked and free from insect bites that could otherwise leave blemishes. As your eyes glance over the dash, you are in awe of how much time and effort has gone into designing every little detail.
Things like the exquisite organ style air vents, and the Bentley clock embedded in the centre of the dash. The craftsmanship is beyond comparison. It’s simply an astoundingly lovely place to be.
Everywhere you look and touch there is leather, and even when you expect to see plastic, you don’t. Instead you see metal. Gone are the wood inserts too, at least in the Bentayga S, making way for carbon fibre, in a nod to the striking and audacious exterior.
The 2023 Bentley Bentayga uses a vast amount of Alcantara too, which can be found on the seat cushions, back inserts, gear lever and steering wheel. Just in case you forget you were driving an S variant, badges can be found on the seat fascia and instrument cluster.
It’s even illuminated on the treadplates. In terms of tech, the Bentayga S has a respectable 10.9-inch infotainment display, while the driver also gets a 12.9-inch digital instrument cluster, with almost full navigation integration.
You also get wireless charging which can be found just underneath the climate control system. If the lighting in the car isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry there is plenty of ambient colours to suit whatever mood you feel on any given day.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also feature, and there’s two USB-C ports located in the centre arm rest. The Bentayga S comes with a 12-speaker sound system that is more than sufficient, straight out of the box.
Storage could be a bit of an issue up front if you’re hoping for chasm level space, as the glove box and centre cubby are both quite small. The cup holders could do with a slide cover too, as they look a little cheap without one.
In a nice touch, there’s a handy sunglass holder located in the middle console that is padded so that your glasses don’t get ruined. The door bins are a winner too, and are large enough for even the biggest of bottles.
You’ll also find dual climate controls, an ionisation function, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, and massage functionality up front. Rear seating is just as impressive, with a mammoth amount of leg, head and knee room.
The seats even recline and slide back and forth to increase room and aid in comfort. Dual zone climate control features in the back row too, with vents in the middle of the rear console, and the door pillars. There’s heated rear seats too.
It’s all controlled from a small tablet located above the middle-mounted vents, that can be ejected and used freely to alter the climate, heating, lighting, blinds, and even the music. Additionally, there’s two more USB-C ports back there.
Open the powered tailgate and you’ll reveal 484-litres of storage, before you lower back row for 1,774-litres. To make life easier, you can press a button inside the boot to lower the air suspension should you need to get larger items in.
There’s a host of safety tech too, but to get the good bits, you’ll need to pay extra. You see, the 2023 Bentley Bentayga S comes with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
It also has a 360-degree camera and front and rear parking sensors as standard. If you want lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, radar cruise control, a head-up display and night vision, you’ll need to spend $16,000 on the optional Touring Pack.
Under the hood is a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 producing 404kW of power and 770Nm of torque, sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed torque converter automatic, allowing the Bentayga S to sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
Thanks to an insane amount of sound insulation and double glazed windows you can’t hear it either. The ride and handling are exceptional, so much so that you don’t want to speed in the Bentley, but rather take your time and cruise everywhere.
That said, if you need angry, simply flick from Comfort to Sport, and the Bentayga S goes from tame and subdued to absolute riot. Do that on some tight and windy roads and you’ll forget it’s a big SUV, such is its car-like feel.
In Sport mode, everything starts to stiffen up, from the steering to the suspension, with the latter reducing ride height to allow for a lower centre of gravity, aiding high speed stability. Seamless shifting from the 8-speed abound.
We did find it bogged down a little if you needed to put the hammer down to overtake someone though. The Bentayga S has active anti-roll bars too, which hold the wheels firmly together when you start to drive a bit enthusiastically.
When the patented system find undulations in the road, it releases them to work independently of each other, allowing for more wheel travel and a smoother ride. The Bentley also features cylinder deactivation technology.
That’s a plus in the fuel economy stakes and saw us able to average 10.0-litres/100km on the highway, and 14.0-litres around the city and in traffic. That’s not bad for a big luxury SUV like this one.
The 2023 Bentley Bentayga S offers the perfect balance between sporting prowess, comfort, build quality and unmatched design, particularly inside. It comes with a 3-year unlimited kilometre warranty. If you’re keen on one and need finance, visit CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by Bentley Motors Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Bentley Bentayga S, contact your local Bentley dealer. Imagery and video courtesy of 85mm Studios.