RE: Bentley Bentayga Speed vs Mercedes-AMG G63

RE: Bentley Bentayga Speed vs Mercedes-AMG G63

Tuesday 24th September 2019

Bentley Bentayga Speed vs Mercedes-AMG G63

Well, if you must spend six figures on a twin-turbocharged SUV, which is the one to have?



In one of those twists I sit down to write this the day cities across the globe erupt in climate strike protests and Greta Thunberg's impassive face is all across the news. Naturally, the unapologetic nature of a V8 AMG G-Wagen with side exhausts or a 12-cylinder, 635hp Bentley is a guilty pleasure capable of winning over even the most hardened anti-SUV cynic. But, between emboldened environmental activism and fact we're a clumsy presidential Tweet away from another Gulf war, it would take some brass ones to sling six figures at a vehicle that makes a cruise ship seem as frugal and environmentally woke as Greta's virtue-signalling yacht.

Still, could have been worse. While the diesel is no more we could have booked out a hybrid Bentayga instead. Small mercies. Hand-wringing out of the way, which of these is actually the more enjoyable way to burn large quantities fuel and money? Neither requires a huge amount of introduction. Both have hurdles to clear in terms of PH credibility. Let's get to it...

Arguably the G63 has an easier job, given it only has to be as good as you'd hope a modernised twist on a much-loved formula might be. Meanwhile, the Bentley's best bet is not being as bad as you might fear, given the badge-engineered stigma and lack of aesthetic charm. The fact it brings 12 cylinders, 635hp, 664lb ft and 190mph potential to the table helps its cause, likewise that it's now only the second most offensive luxury SUV on the market. But even with a 'mere' 585hp, 626lb ft and top speed limited to 149mph (Mercedes optimistically claims electronically, rather than aerodynamically) the G-Wagen is off to a winning start in the charisma stakes. And not just because I'm a sucker for any V8-powered vehicle with side exhausts.


Cruise ship comparisons might seem like lazy journalese. But that's what driving the G63 feels like, the dull throb of a huge engine somewhere deep below a constant presence at any speed. It's soothing in its way and a constant reminder you have power to spare in pretty much any driving situation. That was there in the old 463-series AMG G-Wagens too of course. The shock with this one is those ship comparisons no longer apply to the way it steers.

You'll likely be aware Mercedes has (slightly) moved with the times and updated this new-generation G with independent front suspension in place of the live axle of old. From the rear you still have that reassuringly old-fashioned sight of a diff casing hanging beneath a boxy body and promise of lurid axle articulation in the rough. But Mercedes wisely accepted improvements in handling and steering response were worth the sacrifice in 4x4 cred.

Besides, in all other respects the new G is utterly faithful to the experience of the old one. In isolation you'd be hard pressed to tell it apart, though when you park them next to each other you realise how much bigger (especially wider) the new one is. It's like the G-Wagen we always knew and loved, but more so. And has enough of the character features - locks that sound like a .50cal Browning being cocked, door seals so tight it takes at least two slams to close them properly, external hinges and suchlike - to remain honest to the traditions. Inside though it genuinely feels like a modern vehicle, rather than a patchwork based on four decades of Mercedes parts bin plundering. Never has that giant, widescreen display looked so natural either, the square-cut interior the perfect setting, while the functionality and interface remains as slick as ever. Touchy-feely stuff is absolutely top-notch too, with everything your fingers brush against feeling reassuringly solid and well-built. This is absolutely Mercedes on its game and as worthy of a six-figure price as any top-spec S-Class. Just one you'd feel happy clattering over gnarly rocks, should the mood take you.


It seems shallow to fixate on stuff like this but, before a wheel is turned, the Bentley feels on the defensive by the same measures. It's an odd mix, the traditional fine craftsmanship juxtaposed against generic VW group bits. The typical riposte is that most Bentley owners won't have driven a Skoda so won't be aware the nav graphics look the same. But for all the lovely leather, soft-touch Alcantara, turned aluminium and expensive wafts of hand-stitched upholstery, there's no escaping the fact too much of the kitsch chrome trim feels plasticky to the touch next to the Mercedes' reassuringly expensive kiss of cool metal. Inside and out the Bentayga still fails to put sufficient distance between itself and the suspicion it's a load of Bentley styling cues hurled at a generic luxury SUV platform. There had best be some magic in the way it drives, put it that way.

Our photo location provides opportunity to get a bit of dirt on the tyres, with due deference to the fact both are running expensive looking 22-inch wheels and nowhere near enough sidewall to protect against Peak District gritstone. The Bentley has Β£5,080-worth of All Terrain Specification and there's plenty of evidence it's way more capable off-road than any owner will likely need or explore. But there's no escaping the G63 feels absolutely at home here, even on big wheels. As Matt tip-toes along the flat gravel path, teeth clenched against every bump and clonk, I'm cheerily romping away over adjacent rocks and ruts happy as a pig in the proverbial. G-Wagen the better 4x4? Shock of the century there...

On the road the G63 feels impressively gentrified too, at least compared to its predecessor. There's still just a hint of body-on-frame shudder and it feels unavoidably top-heavy in traditional 4x4 fashion. The spring rates required to contain that in more dynamic situations mean a brittleness over secondary lumps and bumps and the sportier damper settings are pretty much redundant, given there's only so fast you'd want to attack a corner in this thing. It does at least show a degree of interest in going around them, which is a step up. Given how much torque there is, a nine-speed transmission (18-speed if you include low range) seems overkill, shuffling away like a CVT when really you want to lean on the mighty turbocharged huff. Other than that the G63 is - shockingly - a car you can now make some degree of progress in. And it sounds mega, meaning some return on those tenners you're pouring into the tank.


No doubt, the road is the Bentley's last chance to prove it has something to offer. So, in a way I'm relieved to be unexpectedly blown away. The W12 has become as much a Bentley signature as the winged 'B', meshed grilles and the creak of leather upholstery. The contrived bark at start-up is a little footballer, but once under way this engine is every bit as mighty as the stats promise. We're long past the moment where we can be shocked at how technology can mask unfavourable SUV bulk. But, all the same, the Speed has the power to surprise.

For all that swept capacity the W12 feels resolutely turbocharged, albeit in a thrillingly naughty manner when that massive whump of boost kicks in. Where even the AMG V8 can feel a little breathless against two and a half tonnes the Speed's sheer grunt makes a mockery of the kerbweight, the acceleration ferocious and as amusingly incongruous as you'd hope for in a proper Bentley.

So long as you're not unfortunate enough to glimpse your reflection in a window you could easily kid yourself you're in a Continental or Flying Spur, given the more car-like seating position and surroundings. Response to the small, chunky steering wheel is way sharper than it has any right to be and, thanks to its 48V architecture, and the trick air suspension and anti-roll tech it powers, the Bentayga feels genuinely chuckable. This is clearly many levels of wrong, yet feels so right.


Ride and refinement are where the Speed really shows its class. At a cruise it's effortlessly quiet and relaxing, the suspension isolating you from whatever may pass beneath those big wheels. A car with so much weight up high and so little sidewall below has no right to be this comfortable but the Speed will waft you from one OMFG fill-up to another in utter tranquillity. Yet it simultaneously maintains perfect body control for making serious cross-country progress when the mood takes you. Everyone will hate you, especially if you select the unnecessarily vulgar Sport mode with its Golf R style farts and pops. But, frankly, you won't give a toss. Probably not official Bentley marketing terminology, but honest to the brand DNA.

Thus, a challenge seemingly favouring the Mercedes has been flipped around. It sounds like damning with faint praise to say the G63 is exactly as good as you expected. The Bentayga, likewise, is as flawed as you might have feared. And yet pulls an unexpected rabbit out of the hat with the sheer gusto of its driving style.

There has to be a winner though and it's the car that best combines off-road cred, civilised road manners, an arch mix of traditional looks and modern style all topped off with an unapologetically excessive and powerful motor. So, if it were my money ... I'd buy a supercharged Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic.


SPECIFICATION - BENTLEY BENTAYGA SPEED
Engine:
5,950cc W12 twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 635@5,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 664@1,750-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 2,483kg (five-seater)
MPG: 19.2mpg (WLTP combined)
CO2: 308g/km
Price: Β£182,200 (Β£214,440 including options, comprising All Terrain Specification Β£5,080; Centenary Specification Β£1,385; City Specification Β£4,440; Touring Specification Β£6,350; Front Seat Comfort Specification Β£2,875; Bentayga Blackline Specification Β£5,330; 'Naim for Bentley' premium audio system Β£6,780)

SPECIFICATION - MERCEDES-AMG G63
Engine:
3,982cc V8 twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 9-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, low-range transfer case
Power (hp): 585@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 626@2,500-3,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.5sec
Top speed: 137mph (limited, raised to 149mph with optional AMG Driver's Package)
Weight: 2,560kg
MPG: 21.4mpg (WLTP combined)
CO2: 299g/km
Price: Β£143,370 (Β£149,310 with options, comprising 22-inch AMG wheels Β£2,440; AMG Driver's Package Β£2,000; Designo Sea Blue Blue Metallic paint Β£1,750; Winter Pack inc. auxiliary heater and heated windscreen Β£1,750)
























Author
Discussion

alorotom

Original Poster:

7,371 posts

136 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Ive always loved the G but given the amount of footballers and celebrities that run them (and how many you seen being drvien badly in cities) I would now not buy one, unless in 6x6 guise.

I do like the Bentayga, a lot, a neighbour has one and its glorious although the furtherst off road it gets is onto his block paved driveway.

I have to admit it though, if i was in the market for a cliched 6-fig SUV (and hopefully I will be tomorrow) it would be the Cullinan all day long. Rare. Unapologetic. In your face. Obscene. May be even a tad grotesque.

richs2891

800 posts

202 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Pumped up estate car or a proper 4x4 ?
G wagen for me every time, but ditch the 22" wheels.
In fact I would most likely go for the non AMG version of the G.

sidesauce

1,124 posts

167 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
alorotom said:
Ive always loved the G but given the amount of footballers and celebrities that run them (and how many you seen being driven badly in cities) I would now not buy one
This has always puzzled me - why does what someone else drive matter? Surely you drive a car because you want/like it or at the very least, it suits your needs? It's like you want the attention that comes with a 6x6 because reasons but you don't want the attention that comes with a G-Wagen also because reasons; this is utterly paradoxical to me... Furthermore I see all manner of other cars new, old, cheap and expensive, being driven badly in cities so who cares?

My first car was a mk I Audi TT convertible in Merlin Purple, back when So Solid Crew made them popular (therefore my racial background only added to that stereotype) and even though people wanted to try and poke fun at me with hairdresser type jokes, calling it a big aubergine etc I couldn't care less - I loved that car and everything I've owned since!

Venisonpie

493 posts

31 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
I wonder how noisy the Merc is at 149mph..

Fetchez la vache

5,200 posts

163 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
richs2891 said:
Pumped up estate car or a proper 4x4 ?
G wagen for me every time, but ditch the 22" wheels.
In fact I would most likely go for the non AMG version of the G.
Agree 100%. I think this is where the smart money goes - in my book at least.

Part of me wants to say the chances of Bentayga's getting muddy wheels is about 1%, but another part of me thinks the chances of many hyper / supercars going over 200mph is probably similar, so hey ho.

Gareth9702

194 posts

81 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
It would be interesting to know what Bentley include in a £5000 off-road package. Unless 17" wheels are included it seems a waste of money.

Dan Trent

1,866 posts

117 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Wonderman said:
The one thing that struck me about her speech was the emotion she conveyed, just because she's autistic doesn't mean she doesn't have emotions.
In my defence I'd filed the story before she made the speech! No dig at the autism or anything else, more a comment on the calm and steely resolve she'd presented as the 'brand image' up to that point.

Quite the moment to be writing about two cars of this nature, mind!

Dan

Gameface

11,038 posts

26 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
A well (non chav) specced Range Rover is far classier than either of these.

TheOrangePeril

401 posts

129 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Tbh I stopped reading after the first sentence on a featured article about super-SUVs was dedicated to pointing out that a teenager with Asperger's has an "impassive face".

It may not have been intentional but please... Raise your game and show a little sensitivity.

loveice

521 posts

196 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
How about a comparison between a standard G 350D and a Prado Invincible with all the extras?

DanL

2,976 posts

214 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
article said:
In one of those twists I sit down to write this the day cities across the globe erupt in climate strike protests and Greta Thunberg's impassive face is all across the news.
Had to read this four times before I could make sense of it. Add a comma, it'll aid readability.
article said:
In one of those twists, I sit down to write this the day cities across the globe erupt in climate strike protests and Greta Thunberg's impassive face is all across the news.

sisu

488 posts

122 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
The eye watering aspect of these is the depreciation. You lose around £100,000 over 3 years. Every mile throwing a fiver out the window or just giving £100 away every day for 3 years.
That isn't including fuel, servicing or insurance.


A 3 year old 2016 Bentley Bentaga with 40,000 miles £99,000

https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

A 2016 g63 24,000miles £89,000

https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

Even if you are using man math to justify the other guy taking a hit it is not going to get better with age..

wab172uk

1,514 posts

176 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
sisu said:
The eye watering aspect of these is the depreciation. You lose around £100,000 over 3 years. Every mile throwing a fiver out the window or just giving £100 away every day for 3 years.
That isn't including fuel, servicing or insurance.


A 3 year old 2016 Bentley Bentaga with 40,000 miles £99,000

https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

A 2016 g63 24,000miles £89,000

https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

Even if you are using man math to justify the other guy taking a hit it is not going to get better with age..
I suspect the main buyers of these things wouldn't even notice £100 a day. Plus most will either be on lease or finance anyway, so depreciation doesn't even come into it.

Nerdherder

1,655 posts

46 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Did not like the Bentagay, but now that it's pitted against the G I have to say I am warming to it.
Would have to be a Flying Spur for me, the interior is so much nicer (expect it to be updated on the Bentayga though) and a Spur is less grotesque than the SUV. Bentley should add a jacked up cross country version of the Spur to the line up by the way, would sell like crazy.

fernando the frog

297 posts

17 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Dan Trent said:
In my defence I'd filed the story before she made the speech! No dig at the autism or anything else, more a comment on the calm and steely resolve she'd presented as the 'brand image' up to that point.

Quite the moment to be writing about two cars of this nature, mind!

Dan
Why have you made a car review political?

Gameface

11,038 posts

26 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Did the author mean impassioned rather than impassive?

That would make more sense.

Dan Trent

1,866 posts

117 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
fernando the frog said:
Why have you made a car review political?
Given the timing and what these cars embody how could I not?

And I did choose my words carefully and, at the time of writing, it was the very fact Greta presented her case and ‘brand’ as not emotional but based on cold, hard fact that made her message powerful. I realise there’s more to that than ‘tactics’ but it’s been an effective element of her public persona. Since I filed she obviously made the speech, in which she was very clearly emotional. But my choice of language wasn’t intended as pejorative - quite the opposite in fact.

Cheers!

Dan

Edited by Dan Trent on Tuesday 24th September 10:46

bluemason

402 posts

72 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
sidesauce said:
his has always puzzled me - why does what someone else drive matter? Surely you drive a car because you want/like it or at the very least, it suits your needs? It's like you want the attention that comes with a 6x6 because reasons but you don't want the attention that comes with a G-Wagen also because reasons; this is utterly paradoxical to me... Furthermore I see all manner of other cars new, old, cheap and expensive, being driven badly in cities so who cares?

My first car was a mk I Audi TT convertible in Merlin Purple, back when So Solid Crew made them popular (therefore my racial background only added to that stereotype) and even though people wanted to try and poke fun at me with hairdresser type jokes, calling it a big aubergine etc I couldn't care less - I loved that car and everything I've owned since!
Insecurity and jealousy.Those who can afford to drive and tailor said cars to meet their own desired tastes are simply not bothered about the footballers or rappers who can afford to own the same vehicle.
People can drive whatever car that they can afford to drive.In whatever spec that they desire.If I could afford a new g63 I would have mine in solar beam yellow.Some might view it as being very "chavy" but I would not care.

DVB78

4 posts

40 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Wouldn't buy either if i had 100k - both "effing" ugly!!

Wonderman

301 posts

144 months

Tuesday 24th September 2019
quotequote all
Interesting my post was removed as "off topic" even though I commented on the article and that I'd go for the G-wagon preferably in Brabus format

Pistonheads where only positive on message matters (you started it with the Greta reference which is still in the article!) and certainly not to detail as that first sentence still makes my head hurt- read it out aloud *wibble*

These are cars for those that live in the moment, now if you could look after the blue G-wagon (who's long termer is that?) and I'll see it in 5 years or so (assuming it's still legal, we haven't had a 70s fuel crisis and/or the rebellion hasn't set on fire (whilst offsetting the carbon natch).