Range Rover vs Bentley Bentayga: Classy Brit brawlers face off

Two-hundred-and-eight grand. Sorry, I just needed to see it written down. That’s what this Bentley Bentayga has been optioned up to from its list price of £147,600. A little uncommon, I’ll grant you – but not unknown.

Anyway, at least it makes the idea of an £89,000 Range Rover somewhat easier to get your head around, no? This is, as much as anything, a luxury car comparison test.

I’m not sure Bentley would agree, though. This mere £89,110 (as tested; £86,920 before options) is a Mercedes-Benz price, not a Bentley one. In a different sphere, mate. Well, we’ll see, shall we? How far can the Range Rover’s appeal stretch? And can it make it all the way to the Bentayga?

Aesthetically speaking, things have moved on for the Bentayga since its 2016 introduction, thanks to some modifications last year (hence us having this test), which I think you can tell most notably by the new elliptical tail-lights.

There are changes inside, too. Bentley says more than 1000 components have been changed overall, but given that those things include matrix headlights and new windscreen wipers, you know you’re dealing with a fundamentally similar car.

Inside, the most telling changes to a cabin that feels brilliantly constructed and finished, albeit here with a slightly left-field sort-of-burnished metal trim, are a new central touchscreen and a digital instrument pack. The layout retains some separate buttons for some of the more commonly used comfort and audio features, thankfully, although I still think it could do with a separate rotary controller to navigate through the menus.

There are new seats, too, which are pleasingly supportive, large and comfy and sit you in a fairly car-like driving position for what is a big SUV, with a snug, high window line at about shoulder height.

And make no mistake, this is a big SUV, still measuring 5125mm long and 1998mm wide, minus mirrors. And it weighs 2416kg with this 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, which drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Bentley likes its cars to accomplish a lot (this one can), it likes them to have a lot of rear leg and head room (this one does) and it flogs them all over the world. The Bentayga has to be rated to tow 3.5 tonnes, be a luxury car, be an off-roader (so there’s variableheight air suspension) and do 180mph, so it’s a big old beast, with 542bhp and 568lb ft, no less. Quite literally, for the moment, no more and no less: with no W12 Speed for us and a plug-in hybrid version not yet available to order, this is currently the only engine you can order for the Bentayga in the UK.

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What about a used Bentley?

Early Bentaygas can now be found for as little as £80,000 – if you consider that amount to be little. But it’s a fair bet that they won’t stop depreciating there. We actually found one for which the price started with a seven, and it won’t be the last.

The cheapest cars are 6.0-litre W12s, which are also the earliest examples, so that’s no surprise. Cars with 4.0-litre V8 engines – petrol and diesel – were introduced later so have fewer miles and higher prices.

Expect an £80k Bentayga to have covered 60,000 miles but also to be in a fairly reserved specification. Despite Bentley being prepared to paint a car any colour you like, dull hues – greys, silvers, muted variations thereof – make up the overriding number of Bentaygas for sale. Chrome-delete black trim and black wheels are about as wild as they tend to get. And for all of the rough terrain credentials, none looks very off-roaded.

This is still a relatively new car sold in relatively small numbers, so it’s hard gauge its reliability and durability. But if you couldn’t afford the servicing and maintenance on a new one, you probably can’t on a used one. Even so, I see the temptation of a luxury car at half its new price.