The new Bentley Bentayga Plug-In Hybrid is the venerable British brand’s cheapest vehicle. Certainly, with a base price of $158,000, it is not inexpensive by any stretch. In fact, it costs more than four times the average price of a new vehicle purchased in America this year. But after driving an advance version of the marque’s first plug-in through the horror-scape that is Silicon Valley, we were reminded of the old saying: You get what you pay for.
We will preface this review by stating something that should be obvious: The Bentley Bentayga is our least favorite Bentley. Its proportions are inelegant, its shape nondescript. Though we know it is hand-built in Crewe alongside the rest of the marque’s wondrous new lineup, it lacks the specialness, a sense of occasion that should be endemic. This isn’t just because it’s a sport utility vehicle, and thus ostensibly utilitarian.
Even less special is the way in which the Bentayga Hybrid comports itself when accomplishing its tasks. A Bentley, by definition, is meant to be extraordinary, and this extraordinariness is meant to be effortless. Being in a Bentley should make everyday events special, and special events grand or even grandiose. Driving the Bentayga Hybrid feels like engaging with functional transportation.
Stopping is worse. The worst, actually. The Bentayga Hybrid — seemingly because of its massive weight (5,709 lbs), as well as the brand’s decision to forego a more aggressive power-regenerative braking system — has a kind of runaway train feel to it whenever you take your foot off the accelerator. The brakes will bring it to a stop, of course. But their bite is delayed, and underwhelming, and thus, unnerving. We never took a physics course, but if inertia is a law, this truck needs help getting arrested.
And we drove through side street after side street of overblown and uncanny Mid-Century Modern Revival, Arts & Crafts Revival, and Romanesque Revival mansions being constructed for the Tech Elite atop torn-down bungalows in bland suburban neighborhoods. Each of these houses had a huge multi-car garage — rumor is, one of these carports cost $20 million — and we wondered what would occupy them. If we were asked, we would recommend it not be a Bentayga Plug-In Hybrid. But, given all we know about the area and its proclivities, when this vehicle becomes available late this year or early next, we assume it very well might be.