This is What the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid Is Like To Drive

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

A plug-in hybrid takes a bit of the ‘guilty’ out of the pleasure of driving this bespoke car.

I never thought driving a Bentley was for me. Too luxurious for my kids and dog. Too big for just me alone.  Better for being chauffeured than driving yourself, but I really like driving. Could it really be my dream car?

After driving around the Bay Area in the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, I’ve changed my mind.

This Bentley fits my sublime but bold taste perfectly. As a woman, I love an SUV, and Bentley’s first SUV, the Bentayga, was a car I was excited to drive. With a classic SUV shape and size, its look is a bit stealth. This allows you to flow with traffic, take on the curves of the road and truly enjoy the drive experience of this super-luxe car without feeling overly conspicuous.

I also love that it’s a plug-in hybrid, which I think is the perfect mix of sustainable electric and reliable gas driving. I get to pick how I want to power my car, and I love that.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

A view of the driver’s seat in the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Plug-in Electric Hybrid Takes the Sting out of MPG

Electrification is the future for cars. And a plug-in electric/gas hybrid that lets you drive on battery when you want, have the battery assist the gas engine and lets you drive on pure gas when you want. It is the best of all worlds. And the hybrid electric system lets you boost your MPG; the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid’s gas engine is estimated to get about 14 MPG City/24 highway; adding just 16 miles of charge can drive that to 50 MPG or more… depending on how many miles are driven on electric. 

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This is what Bentley went with in the brand’s first entree into electric cars. The company will start to add more electric models to the lineup in the next few years.

Related: 6 Reasons a luxury car is all that… and more

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

This is the key to life in the Bentayga Hybrid: E Mode lets you select your level of hybrid driving. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The plug-in electric gas hybrid works like this:

  • Plug it in for up to 16 miles of pure electric driving; when the battery is depleted the gas engine will kick in. It does this seamlessly; you’ll never know unless you’re watching your gauges.
  • Drive in hybrid mode, in which the battery assists the gas engine when needed. It also recoups unused energy, which it collects during braking, highway cruising and idling, and stores it in the battery for use later. You can actually add to the battery’s charge while you drive.
  • Drive in gas, or “Hold” mode; this means the gas engine is in charge and the battery power is being held until you decide to use it.
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The Bentley Bentayga’s charge port. Photo: Scotty Reiss

It takes about 2.5 hours to fully recharge the battery with a higher level (level 2) charger, and it’s worth noting that most plug-in owners charge their cars at home; relying on public chargers can leave you without power (another reason I love the plug-in/gas hybrid).

Related: The real surprise in this luxury 3-row SUV? How much you get for the money

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The gear shifter and cup holders in the Bentley Bentayga are surrounded by luscious. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Stealth Power Under the Hood—This One Surprised Me!

The Bentley Bentayga Hybrid has plenty of power — 335 horsepower in a V6 engine. But you may never know it. The engine is super quiet—typical for a hybrid— and the car is so beautiful you feel as if you’re driving in a cloud of refined details. This can all make it hard to remember that sport mode is at hand.

Until you get into traffic, pop it into sport and punch the accelerator to pass a truck. Then you feel it. There is nothing fat and coddled about the Bentley engine. And even when invoking the Bentayga’s muscle, you won’t necessarily hear it. So like a bullet out of the dark, the Bentayga easily darted past traffic with confidence. Safely within the speed limit, of course.

Related: This SUV is red carpet ready, and is great for the after-school pick up lane too.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

Head up display gives the driver visual navigation and key information, like your current speed and the speed limit. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Interior Details That Leave You Wanting For Nothing

There is a lot to discover inside the Bentayga Hybrid. It takes a few minutes to soak in the luscious quilted leather upholstery and curated wood veneers—each veneer comes with its own story—before you can start to explore the car’s features. But be assured, if you can think of it, the Bentayga has it.

And it does it quite well. From the useful and expected, such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, to thoughtful details like turn by turn navigation that displays on the head up display, in the driver’s information cluster AND on the infotainment screen if you wish (or set each screen with its own display), the system made in easy to hold a conversation while navigating our way up the coast without getting lost.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The Hybrid badge on the back of the Bentayga, just under the “Double B” taillights. Photo: Scotty Reiss

And then: Paddle shifters, adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, multiple drive modes (including sport!), massaging front seats, ventilated front and rear seats, panoramic sun roof, Naim premium sound, all set against the classic details that denote a Bentley: the round air vents, a leather steering wheel that feels right at home in your hands, a bright Bentley logo on the steering wheel and a Breitling clock that crowns the dashboard.

In the back seat there are plenty of perks, too. After all, this is where Bentley made its name creating a cocoon for royals, dignitaries and captains of industry. Passengers will sink into the leather seats and can enjoy their own entertainment screen. They can use the car’s super secure WiFi system—the system has three receptors that disassemble and reassemble the signal so it’s virtually unhackable— and there is a remote that allows passengers to control seat heating or ventilation, climate control, entertainment and more. I really loved this feature.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The Bentayga’s headlights are like a bit of jewelry on the front of the car. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Bespoke Style and Function…And, Bentley’s Best Priced Car

As with any Bentley, there are perks of ownership. You’ll be added to the brand’s exclusive social network and you can custom design your Bentayga, from exterior details to interior appointments.

But when it comes to the price, this one is the brand’s most affordable. Pricing starts at about $159,000 and tops out at about $200,000, the starting price of the regular Bentayga model (which easily climbs to $250,000). The standard Bentayga has a larger engine with more horsepower than the hybrid, but then, you don’t get the satisfaction of sitting seaside and enjoying the serenity of a more sustainable and responsible Bentley.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The Bentayga makes for a nice perch to take in the view of the Pacific Ocean copy. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Listened to in the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid 

Between the Naim premium sound system, the quiet engine and the cocoon like-interior, a great playlist is a must. This is what we loved listening to in the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid as we cruised the California coast.

Disclosure: I was Bentley’s guest for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

We'Re Smitten With The Bentley Bentayga Suv'S Muscular Look. Add A Plug-In Hybrid Electric Drive And We'Re In Love. This Is What It'S Like Behind The Wheel. #Luxurysuv #Bestsuv #Bentleybentayga #Carreview

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss