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2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure V8 review (video)

The automotive landscape is ever-evolving and luxury SUVs have become the epitome of opulence on four wheels. In the midst of the elite class, the 2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure V8 emerges as a beacon of refined power and sophistication. And expense.

This SUV doesn’t just promise a drive; it promises an experience that transcends conventional SUV boundaries. In this review we’ll delve into the heart of the Bentayga, exploring its price tag, interior luxuries, powertrain performance, and everything in between.

2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure: Specifications

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Output: 404kW@6000rpm / 770Nm@2000-4500rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Four-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 22×10.0, 285/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2355kg
Power-to-weight: 5.82:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 11.4L/100km
Our consumption: 15L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 85L/98 RON
Power efficiency: 35.43kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 1.93 seconds*
0-100km/h: 3.97 seconds*
0-200km/h: 14.76 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.69 seconds*
1/4 mile: 12.23 seconds at 184.1km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.220g*
100-0km/h braking: 36.99m in 3.09 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.169g*
Decibel at idle (/sport mode): 42/44*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 86*
Starting price: $475,000

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure: How much does it cost?

Unveiling the price tag of a Bentley is akin to lifting the curtain on new piece of infrastructure built by the local government; it’s a moment of anticipation followed by thoughts of cost and additional taxes.

Priced at the upper echelons of the luxury SUV spectrum, the Bentayga Azure starts from $475,000 (excluding on-roads). It ain’t cheap. Without meaning to justify that, it commands attention with such a figure, perhaps befitting its regal stature. After all, were you expecting it to be $29,990 drive-away? Some rivals, such as the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Ferrari Purosangue, are a lot more expensive.

For those fortunate enough to consider such an acquisition, the Bentayga Azure presents itself as not just a vehicle but a statement of wealth and an uncompromising commitment to obtaining what is seen as the pinnacle in luxury SUV motoring. Whether it actually is or not is irrelevant to the buyer or his/her circles. But let’s find out anyway.

2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure: Interior & packaging

Step inside the cabin of the Bentayga and you are immediately transported to a realm where meticulous craftsmanship converges with old-school majesty. The interior is an ode to Bentley’s legacy of handcrafted luxury, with an array of exquisite materials that pamper the senses.

The diamond-quilted leather seats of the Azure, hand-finished wood veneers, and chromed accents create an ambiance that is both stately and somewhat contemporary. The attention to detail is inspiring, with even the smallest elements meticulously designed to exude opulence, such as leather extending right down to the lower door sills, dash edges and even the seat shrouds.

Front passengers are presented with excellent ergonomics, ensuring that every button, switch, and control falls perfectly to hand. And of course there is heaps of space inside. After all, the Bentayga rides on VW Group’s MLB Evo platform – one of the company’s largest – and shared with the Audi Q7, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touareg.

The body is 5125mm long, making it 145mm longer than a 300 Series Toyota LandCruiser Sahara. It’s also 1998mm wide and 1728mm tall, riding on a 2995mm wheelbase. Despite sharing the same core platform as its VW-owned cousins, the wheelbase is 100mm longer than the Cayenne’s, and 107mm longer than the Touareg’s, just to give you an idea of the expansive interior.

Speaking of which, it might present an imposing exterior, but the cabin is a haven of serenity and space. Whether you’re chauffeuring VIPs or embarking on a cross-country journey, the Bentayga is supremely comfortable, and very quiet. This test example features double-glaze windows with two panes of glass formed together; you can hardly hear anything going on outside. The Azure also features a comprehensive climate control system with filtration that catches PM2.5 particle matter. It really is a separate cocoon from the outside world.

The infotainment system showcases intuitive controls, a 10.9-inch touch-screen, and connectivity options that cater to the demands of the modern elite. It’s pretty basic in terms of the grid-style layout for the apps, but it tends to suit the nature of the vehicle and of Bentley’s heritage. This isn’t supposed to be a tech-laden gizmo on wheels. It’s a luxurious cross-country, all-weather tourer.

Boot space is rated at 484L, if you’re wondering, which isn’t large for this class. At all. It’s partly hindered by a bulky power-adjustable rear seat system. You can fold the rear seats down to expose 1774L, if you or your driver requires.

2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure: Powertrain & handling

Beneath the bonnet lies one of the best V8s on the market in our view. It’s the 4.0-litre twin-turbo unit as seen in everything from the Audi SQ7 and SQ8, to the mighty Porsche Cayenne and Panamera, and fire-breathing Lamborghini Urus. In the Bentayga it blends brute force with beautifully-refined versatility.

Peak power is 404kW, achieved at an ear-massaging 6000rpm, with a whacking 770Nm of torque spread between 2000-4500rpm. This is a relatively mild tune for this particular ‘hot-vee’ engine, but it suits the Bentayga perfectly. The turbos are mounted within the V to optimise boost response, and it runs a high (for a turbocharged unit) 10.1:1 compression ratio. It also features twin-scroll turbochargers and direct injection (TFSI).

Lean on the throttle and you’ll experience such a lovely deep V8 bellow as the huge torque surges you and your occupants forward with utter relentlessness, without even trying. The sound is a metallic orchestra of sheer power and presence as it works its way up the rev range, rising up to a crescendo like Pavaroti’s Nessun Dorma. It is breathtaking.

Behind the V8 is the superb ZF 8HP90 eight-speed automatic, distributing grunt to a full-time four-wheel drive system. However, the drive system is active and can redistribute torque to wheels that offer more traction, if and when needed, automatically. It’s the ideal transmission for this style of vehicle in our opinion. A dual-clutch setup might be quicker but it could compromise total smoothness, while fewer ratios might make it too long-legged and laggy.

Across the usual sprints we clocked 0-100km/h in a best of 3.97 seconds, bettering the official claim of 4.4 seconds. That is an astonishing time considering this massive beast weighs 2355kg (tare). We also clocked 0-200km/h in 14.76 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.23 seconds at 184.1km/h, on a private road.

These are proper high-end sports car figures. And this is an SUV. It might not justify the price tag completely to you and I, but at least it leans some way there; there are not many 2300kg-plus petrol-powered SUVs that can clock 0-100km/h in under 4.0 seconds.

As impressive as the powertrain and performance is, the ride and handling will truly amaze you. Again, considering its weight and key focus. The Azure comes with adaptive air suspension to ensure it glides over surfaces with the grace of a ballet dancer, but it can also navigate urban landscapes or conquer off-road trails while maintaining the same level of poise and elegance.

Toggling through the driving modes offers a spectrum of personalities, from the relaxing Bentley cruise in Comfort mode to the all-rounder setup in ‘B’ mode, to the spirited performance of Sport mode, all seem to reconfigure the vehicle and create a high level of noticeable versatility. The Comfort mode is perhaps too soft for Aussie country roads, as it bounces around quite a bit, but the default B mode offers the ideal balance in our opinion.

Attack some corners with speed and enthusiasm and the Bentayga responds by seemingly defying physics, seldom seen in vehicles of this size and weight. The four-wheel-drive system and advanced chassis control technologies contribute to a driving experience that is both engaging and confidence-inspiring.

The steering is precise and offers good communication, making it a genuinely fun vehicle to drive in such scenarios. It wants to take on corners and seems happy to drive with a certain level of aggression, despite its main purpose and weight.

And then the brakes are as robust as one would expect from a vehicle of this caliber. This comes fitted with the largest steel discs ever fitted to a production car (or at least it did at the time of its launch). The fronts measure 400mm, clamped by six-piston calipers as standard. There are options for different colour calipers and so on if you prefer.

2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure: Key attractions/reasons to buy

  • Unparalleled luxury: The Bentley Bentayga Azure V8 is no doubt the benchmark of luxury SUVs that promise performance and poise, thanks to an interior that exudes opulence and craftsmanship.
  • Exceptional performance: The V8 engine delivers a symphony of power and bellowing noise, propelling the Bentayga like a high-end sports car; 0-100km/h in a Vbox-verified 3.97s.
  • Attention to detail: From the hand-finished wood veneers to the diamond-quilted leather seats, every detail in the Azure is a testament to Bentley’s legendary heritage.
  • Versatility: Despite its imposing size, the Bentayga Azure handles urban environments and challenging spirited roads with equal aplomb; it will surprise you how agile and committed it is in the bends.
  • Extensive options: Some of these might seem expensive or redundant to most of us, but at this top end of the market exclusivity is very important. Having the ability to configure an order to be as unique and as personalised as possible is everything.

2023 Bentley Bentayga Azure: Key considerations before you buy

  • Exclusivity comes at a price: The price tag places the Bentayga Azure out of reach for all but the most affluent buyers.
  • Limited cargo space: The focus on luxury somewhat compromises cargo space, making the Bentayga less practical for those who prioritise utility. Boot space is just 480L.
  • Maintenance costs: Owning a Bentley is a statement of luxury, but it also comes with the associated costs of maintaining and servicing a high-end vehicle.
  • No more W12: Soon the V8 might be dropped, too. There is talk of a V8 hybrid coming soon though, which could keep the bent-eight alive.

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Ride & handling
  • X-factor (does it stand out in its class?)
4.1

Final word

From the exquisite interior to the formidable powertrain, it’s clear to see every element has been made to strive toward Bentley’s commitment to excellence. While the price may be a barrier for many, for those fortunate enough to shop for a Bentayga Azure, you’ll appreciate what it represents; the pinnacle of luxury and performance in the world of SUVs.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.

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