Dueling Uglies

Let’s play like the folks at Top Gear / Grand Tour guys for a moment, and consider a comparison between two outrageously-expensive performance SUVs for a moment.  (Acting like Clarkson et al. means I don’t wanna hear any guff about “I’d rather buy a new house for that kind of money” or “No car is worth that much” or “I’d rather have a Caddy Escalade and bank the rest of the dough.”  I want opinions on the two SUVs, and nothing else.)

So let’s kick off with the Bentley Bentayga V8 Design Series, with its 4-liter, 542hp  V8 pulling this land-barge to a 0-60mph in 4 seconds, all the way to around 180mph at the top of the speedometer.  In typical Bentley fashion, all that will be done fairly discreetly — it does not  sound like a Ford Mustang 500 doing the same — but remember, Bentley’s mechanicals are 90% German.  As for its looks?

Look, let’s be honest:  the “U” in “SUV “almost always stands for Ugly, and this Bentley is that.  It’s not as ugly as a Range Rover or Escalade — Bentley is always going to find as much classy beauty as it can — but like a plastic surgeon trying to make Amy Schumer beautiful, you can only do so much with what you have.

Unless you’re Maserati, making their statement in the “hyper-luxury SUV” segment with the Levante Trofeo.

Its engine is a Ferrari-based 3.8-liter 590hp V8 which gives 0-60mph acceleration of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 187mph.

I should mention at this point that the Bentley will sell for about $120,000 more than the Maserati, if that means anything.  (Personally, I just know  that the Mazza will be Italian — i.e. not as reliable as the Bentley — but then again, 120 big ones buys an awful lot of maintenance and repairs, even at Maserati prices.)

So, Gentle Readers:  which one would you choose?  The Anglo-German fast utilitarian vehicle with more than a touch of class, or the Italian sorta-Ferrari, with a decidedly Latin feel and all that that  entails?

32 comments

  1. I don’t think I’d take either of them if you gave them to me. I find the KIA Soul preferable.

  2. Bentley.

    I can wave imperiously to the peasantry as I silently pass by their humble hovels at 100mph.

  3. SUV’s? Nah, these are great four door cars with a squared up back end and I would take the Bentley over the Maserati because I like to have a vehicle start on command and I don’t want to become friends with a mechanic with an accent which seems to happen with Italian cars.

    In my world, a Sports Utility Vehicle has good ground clearance, a full frame for a good towing hitch capable of pulling a few tons of boat and I don’t see either of those great looking cars crawling up a slick wet hill with driver wearing muddy boots and a dead deer in the back and a heavy duty grille guard might ruin the lines on either one.

    1. I’m with you. I scrolled down to look at the SUVs but saw sedans. Beefed up sedans, but not SUVs.

  4. I’ve owned 7 Krautwagens and 4 Eyetyemobiles, none as costly as either of these. My brain says Bentley, my heart says Maserati for the engine alone.

  5. Bentley, hands down, but in a diff color. Maybe a dark royal blue. Or real tree camo. Black interior.

    The Maserati looks like everything else out there, bland.
    The Bentley has sort of a Jeep SUV look to it, somewhat angular, and stands out a little more. Never cared much for the name though, sounds like a butlers name.

    “Oh Bentley, my good fellow, can you bring me another gross of condoms from the boudoir closet?”

  6. I’ve got to go with the Bentley for two reasons:

    First you’ll remember that back in the Ian Fleming days, James Bond drove a Bentley. Yeah that was a different car in a different era but tradition rules here. If you’re going to be chased through a third world shite hole by a bunch of crazed terrorists in Toyota technicals, the Bentley just looks like it would stand up better to AK rounds and not break the champagne bottles in the process.

    Second the Maserati emblem looks like one of those tacky tinfoil King Neptune tridents that were displayed by fat old USN CPOs at equator crossing ceremonies. My navy friends will know what I speak of. The navy probably doesn’t do those ceremonies any more – or they’ve been made politically correct and much less fun.

    1. Just remember that Maserati were winning Grand Prix races with that “ugly” badge (long before WWII) when the U.S. Navy was still little more than a bunch of frigates…

  7. I think you’re making a $120,000 bet on just how much maintenance and repairs you’re actually going to get with the Maserati. You would hate having a garage queen five years from now.

    But “Bentayga”? Sheesh, that’s just gayga.

  8. I’m going with the Bentley. If I’m going to drive a huge, expensive four-wheeled vehicle, then I want as much comfort and reliability as possible, while carrying craploads of stuff in the back.

    The Maserati looks suspiciously like a Mazda CX-9, and while I’m sure it hauls ass and gets lots of women (respectively speaking), I don’t really care about that in an SUV. I want to haul my entire family and all our camping gear into the mountains. The Bentley will do that, plus probably give you a back massage as well.

  9. I’d go with the Bentley. At least its body and tires (tyres?) look like it could be taking off road without pranging anything outrageously expensive. The Maserati has those all-rim-no-tire wheels on it that wouldn’t survive a pot-holed city street at more than thirty miles an hour – never mind hitting a gravel road or rutted dirt road. Its emergency brake would probably automatically engage and the GPS/ road map system would start to swear at you in Italian if you tried to actually go off-road. (The Bentley’s GPS/road map system would probably utilize John Cleese’s snottiest voice to advise you NOT to do that. But you COULD if you REALLY wanted to.)

  10. I’ve tried the Bentayga when it first came out. Well, sort of: I couldn’t even get in it, which cut things very short (ahem). I’m just too tall. Its target market seems to be the Yummy Mummy / elegant matron on the school run. I can get in the Levante and I have headroom and legroom. I hope to test drive one soon.

  11. Bentley, no question. But I’ll still look down on you, literally, whilst I roll up in my Rolls Royce Cullinan, open my suicide doors, and deploy my seats from the trunk, spreading my wine and cheese feast for me and the mistress. I’d bet they could even replace the umbrella holder in the door with a padded sleeve for the shotgun(s). https://www.wired.co.uk/article/rolls-royce-cullinan
    And if it is more S in the SUV you seek, you’d be silly to opt for the Maserati, when the perfectly reasonable Lamborghini Urus is available. Or, get a Cayenne Turbo and call it a day.

    1. Isn’t there a Cayenne lurking under all that Bentley camo.
      Just because it costs upwards of a quarter-mil, doesn’t mean it isn’t “badge engineered”.

  12. Kim, my pic would be the Bentley.

    The Maserati just doesn’t do it for me, even with a Ferrari sourced V8. And it’s based on a Jeep, anyway, so why would I want an Italian Jeep? I’d get a Renegade if that’s what would satisfy me, and that doesn’t work for me, either.

    Now, IF I wanted a Jeep, it would either be the new Gladiator OR the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk…

  13. Don’t think the Navy does Pollywog ( I don’t think you can even use that term anymore ) Ceremony’s any more. However, I was inducted into the order of the Shellbacks on a small cruise ship in the Galapagos not very many years ago. The new crew members were subjected to the wrath of Neptune — not us ..

    …… and Bentley, since I don’t really want to be stuck out in the middle of the Hamptons when the Maserati decides it’s not doing this anymore.

    The difference between a Bentley and a Rolls. You drive a Bentley — your driven in a Rolls.

    1. I was traumatized at the tender age of 19 when I had to kiss the hairy fat grease covered belly of a chief boatswains mate who played the royal baby of King Neptune. We had a bunch of Ensigns and JGs and one Lieutenant Commander who had never crossed the line and they went through the same ordeal as the rest of us enlisted types. From what I can find the ceremony is still performed today in an inoffensive and very politically correct manner.

      I still have my Shellback card and certificate from 1972 and a membership certificate for the “Domain of the Golden Dragon” which said that we crossed the international date line and were officially denizens of the Orient (that’s not PC either). Fun stuff when you’re 19 and crazy.

  14. “…120 big ones buys an awful lot of maintenance and repairs, even at Maserati prices…”

    The choice is: Do you want to learn to speak British or Italian, because you’re gonna need it for your weekly conversations with the maintenance staff. Not “mechanic,” the “maintenance staff.”

    Is the “car” an exhibition piece, or is it a general purpose vehicle to actually be used? Old Texan is on to something, but I suspect were one to actually toss a dead deer in the back of the Bently the Queen would have you excommunicated or something, and who knows what the Pope would do if the Maserati got that treatment.

    You want a fancy Eye-Talian or Limey-Mobile “car,” by all means go for it, but don’t try to convince anyone these things have any sort of “utility.”

    The reliability of a ’70s/’80s Mercedes, carrying capacity of the same era F250, real 4WD, 40-50 gallons of fuel (preferably diesel), air conditioning that frosts the windows, enogu room around the mechanicals to reach everything, easily cleanable seats and floors, comfortable room for 4-6 real passengers, not Japanese midgets, and a reasonable amount of luggage, space for the dog, no fucking electronics that requires an E.E. PhD on the “maintenance staph,” high end LED lighting, well, I’ll stop there for now but you get the idea. .

    Ain’t nothin’ like that coming from the workshops at Sniveling-On-Thames (aka Goodwood) or the suburbs of Modena. They may look great and go fast but all of ’em have mud allergies and an army of expensive wrench-spinners waiting in the wings.

    1. I should have added: “Also, ain’t nothin’ like that coming from the shops at Dee-Troit, either.” Jay Leno may know some guys who could do it, though.

      1. Well, since I’m limited to menu-only choices and the enforced hunger of “none of the above” is apparently out of range, Maserati. It’s cheaper so less money will be wasted, I know Italians are baffled by interlocking complexity so there will be problems, but having earned a now ancient minor apprenticeship in thoracic surgery on both breeds, I suspect what the Modena inmates build is repairable while their island-bound Goodwood compatriots habitually turn out stuff that’s designed wrong from the asphalt up. And, Italians at least recognize that roads have corners even if they’re somewhat confused about how best to traverse the empty spaces between.

  15. I’m of the personal opinion that the only proper color for any English car is British Racing Green. My long departed Mum came over to the States in the 60s, so I think I have a genetic inclination towards English cars. Same goes for British motorcycles. When I can finally start setting aside monetary units for another motorcycle, Triumphs are most certainly in the top 5 of Partsgod’s Motorcycle Dream list. Any color other than BRG will be unacceptable.

    Having said that, my choice is the Bentley. BRG, of course.

  16. If possible, I’d make a Franken-Ute. (And that has nothing to do with my poxy, handsy former Senator.) I’d take the Maserati with the Bentley interior.

  17. Since SUV’s first came about, and the wife and I got into Jeep Cherokees, I’ve believed that the true utility of an SUV (and f*ck the “sport” part) is in how flat the roof is — the aim being able to easily transport a 4×8 sheet of sheet goods. Neither one of the profferred machines is acceptable as their roofs are to curvy to fill the bill.

  18. Bentley, no question. If you’re going to buy a Veblen good, may as well go all the way.

  19. Ha ha ha, you’d have to be kidding. Only an absolute idiot would pony up for the masser. It’s predictable depreciation and utter unreliability would just break your heart. Imagine actually going somewhere that you needed say the 4wd capability of a Toyota RAV4. Then breaking down. It would be bad enough in the Bentley, but imagine it in the masser.

  20. Bentley, if I could afford it and the maintenance.

    Have owned Brit, Italian, Swede, Jap and Kraut mobiles for over 45 years (along with all the common US brands). My rule of thumb based on this experience runs:

    Brit – fun to drive, unreliable as hell, always having to tinker to keep it running.
    Italian – fun to drive, under powered (Fiat), rust as you drive down the road and a tad more reliable than Brit (Magneti Marelli did learn something from Lucas).
    Swede – owned 140/240/760 etc. Bjoring, safe and most unreliable electronics as they age, almost at part with Lucas.
    German – dead nuts reliable, get you from A – B without fuss, boring but not bad to drive. hate rubber band engines. Owned VW, Mercedes and BMW. Diesels rule!
    Japanese – Honda/Toyota – boringly reliable, Subaru a pain in the ass to maintain.
    American iron – especially all the V8’s – most comfortable around for long distance driving, easy to repair if pre 1980. Have not owned anything US made after 2004 and frankly don’t miss the modern econobox jellybeans at all.
    SUV craze – Note shooting brakes/station wagons are about to make a comeback, easier to load stuff on the roof rack compared to SUV and most are car based, see comment on American iron, go back to V8 power and I will jump back in.

  21. I just know the Maserati would break my heart, just like an Alfa. But that’s not a proper Bentley, it’s some sort of inbred german crap.

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