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Bentley previews its $297,000 Bentayga, the ‘most powerful’ SUV in the world

Bentley’s North American debut of its Bentayga SUV took place beyond the walls of the Los Angeles Convention Center on Monday. A small gathering of media professionals was invited to inspect one of 608 planned First Edition Bentaygas (608 is also the vehicle’s UK-rated horsepower). Digital Trends was told that, of those 608 examples, 75 are pegged for U.S. customers, and surprisingly, 400 of the remaining units are off to Russia (where they’ll undoubtedly need that extra bit of ground clearance).

In Bentley’s own words, the Bentayga is the “most powerful, most exclusive, and fastest production SUV in the world.” As previously reported, the muscular model will develop 600 horsepower (U.S.-rated) and 663 pound-feet of torque from an all-new 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 engine. This power dosage leads to a rapid 0-to-60 mph run of 4.0 seconds and that monumental 187 mph top speed.

While the EXP 9F Falcon concept that was first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012 drew mixed reviews, the production Bentayga is imposingly beautiful in person. The First Edition adds features like 22-inch black painted and polished wheels, a carbon fiber front splitter, side rocker panels, double rear spoiler, and rear diffuser, Union Jack emblems, ambient lighting,“first edition” stitching, ‘diamond-within-diamond’ quilted leather stitching, and a few other extras. Strip all that away though and the Bentayga still looks every bit the part of an ultra-exclusive SUV.

Bentayga Interior Drivers
Miles Branman

In fact, the Bentayga is genuinely the first entrant into what will become a crowded segment before long. The Bentayga will soon be followed by similar models from Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Maybach, Lamborghini, and Land Rover. Bentley hopes to distinguish itself by its powertrain, design, and off-road potential. In regards to the last of these, Bentley cited short overhangs, a capable terrain management system with adjustable drive modes, and extensive testing performed in challenging environments like the Red Dunes of Dubai.

In the metal, the Bentayga managed to look compact while in truth being a full-size SUV. Powerful lines, larger-than-life features, and elements from concepts like the EXP10 Speed 6 (LED DRL headlights) give the Bentayga a commanding presence. Inside, it’s typical Bentley luxury, expressed in the softest materials and most intricate trims. Rear-seat occupants have a respectable amount of legroom and plenty of headroom. A three-row version is in the works for later production.

Kevin Rose, Bentley’s board member for sales and marketing, reiterated to us that Bentley is considering not only a ‘Speed’ version of the Bentayga, but also a sub-Bentayga model to build out the brand’s newly-formed SUV range. If and when Bentley does pursue these additions, they’ll target the pinnacle of their respective segments. With 600 horsepower available as standard, a ‘Speed’ variant could even trounce the planned Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and its 707 hp Hellcat powertrain.

Related: Bentley’s Bentayga Will Strut Its Stuff On Ice In Finland

Production for the First Edition Bentaygas begins this Friday and each will cost $297,000. The entry-level Bentayga will retail for $229,000 when it goes on sale next year.