Bentley Bentayga SUV

A turn behind the wheel of Bentley’s extraordinary Bentayga SUV will leave drivers scrabbling for superlatives

Paul Newman’s peepers were never this blue. The waters off Bora Bora? Not even close. Leonard Cohen’s famous raincoat? Way too dark.

If you want to gaze at the most mesmerizing shade of Windex-blue mixed in with the azure of Capri’s Blue Grotto, look no further than the hue adorning the latest Bentley Bentayga high-luxe SUV I’ve been driving.

They don’t even call it blue. Its official, rather unimaginative title is Silverlake. But to me, it’s quite possibly the most breathtaking, lust-inducing Pantone to ever adorn a vehicle.

And I’m not alone in my thinking, judging by the frenzied attention of camera phone–toting pedestrians, selfie-seeking passersby, or the nice lady who rolled down her BMW window and screamed, “Awesome color!” from the middle lane of I-75—at 75 mph.

Most auto enthusiasts know all about the Bentayga. It’s the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious, most fabulous SUV to ever roll out of any super market parking lot. Yes, a Bentley SUV. Still seems kind of weird, I know.

This is one handsome beast, with all the requisite shimmery honeycomb grilles up front and huge 21-inch rims at each corner. That being said, the lines are just a tad predictable; it’s as if the designers took a bunch of Bentley styling cues, threw them in the automotive blender, and stuck with what came out. Ultimately, it lacks the elegance, class, and fluidity of, say, a long-wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography.

But open the hefty door, slide behind that two-tone leather wheel, and prepare to go giddy with excitement. The entire cabin is nothing less than a masterpiece of interior glam, where purple-blue leather graces the dash and chalky-cream hides cover the seats.

Architectural Digest rarely features New York penthouses this sumptuous.

The real beauty is that everything is customizable. Bentley’s “your wish is my command” Bespoke department will install any color combo of leather, wood veneer, and carpeting buyers can dream up.

Want to get creative? A call to Bentley’s Mulliner division will have your Bentayga equipped with everything from one-of-a-kind leather luggage to stone veneers for the dash to a custom hamper for alfresco picnics, crafted by royal furniture maker David Linley, nephew of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

What comes standard, however, is space. And lots of it. Space to seat five in stretch-out, good-for-the-next-500-miles comfort. Space in the trunk for a plethora of sporting paraphernalia, maybe even a $10,000 Hèrmes Talaris riding saddle or a Honma 14-piece set of clubs, a steal at roughly $76,000.

But without a doubt the biggest joy that comes with every new Bentayga is the pleasure of driving its 600-horsepower flux capacitor. Squeezed under the Bentley’s mile-long hood is a twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder nuclear reactor that channels its power to all four wheels through a Teflon-smooth 8-speed automatic.

With a massive 664 pound-feet of torque on tap (Peterbilt 18-wheelers have less muscle), this 5,300-pound projectile can scythe from standstill to 60 mph in under four seconds and reach a top speed of 187 mph.

But forget the raw numbers. Where the Bentayga stands apart is in its truly spectacular refinement. Red October sitting in stealth mode on the bottom of the Mariana Trench makes more noise than this Bentley does while cruising at 150 mph.

Ignore, too, the car’s seemingly lofty, top-heavy stance. This SUV corners as if running on invisible rails, a trait courtesy of the car’s computer-controlled, self-leveling air suspension, surgically precise steering, and tires that grip harder than a case of Fixodent.

I could bore you with all the minutiae about the Bentayga’s stupendous off-road prowess, its ability to crawl up the side of Kanchenjunga, or the ease with which it could wade through water 20 inches deep. But I won’t. Heck, why would you want to mess up that glorious paintwork with mud?

No, think of the Bentayga as the world’s finest luxury sedan that sits just a little higher. And, in the case of our review car, has the kind of color Pablo Picasso would have kicked himself for not using during his Blue Period.

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