Jared Paul Stern is a writer, photographer and autos expert. He has written for numerous publications including Petrolicious
. The opinions expressed here are solely his.
Recently, Bentley proclaimed that its Bentayga was the "world's fastest, most exclusive and expensive SUV."
While no one issued a direct challenge, the announcement a few months later of the Holland & Holland Range Rover -- a collaboration between Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations
(SVO) unit and a London manufacturer of bespoke guns -- seems like a shot across the Bentayga's bow.
I had the opportunity to test out the two vehicles, to see which dominates in the ultra-luxury SUV category: the Bentley Bentayga
or the Holland & Holland Range Rover
Both vehicles are ludicrously luxurious, insanely expensive and very beautiful tributes to automotive excess.
The speed test
Bentley Bentayga Credit: Bentley Motors
There is no question that the Bentayga is the fastest SUV on the planet. The Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG
-- a close third behind the big two with a sticker of $217,900 -- actually has more horsepower at 621 vs. 600. But the Bentayga is faster on the 0-60 mph run by an impressive 1.1 seconds, and can do 187 mph vs. the G65 AMG's sluggish 155.
Few could deny that on the face of it a Bentley is more exclusive than a Range Rover. However, some would point out that only 30 examples of the Holland & Holland Range Rover are being produced, while the Bentayga's First Edition runs to 608 vehicles -- all of which are already sold.
While the Holland & Holland Range Rover is technically more expensive with a price of $244,500 versus the Bentayga's base sticker of $229,100, we have yet to see an actual Bentayga that didn't clock in at $250,000 or more with various options installed. (All of the First Edition Bentaygas bound for the U.S. cost an eye-popping $297,400.)
The finer details: Bentley Bentayga
Bentley Bentayga, Southern Spain, November 2015
Photo: James Lipman Credit: Bentley Motors
The Bentayga carries on Bentley's fine tradition of hand crafting ultra-luxury cars that are actually fun and engaging to drive. Custom-made sports cars disguised as stately sedans, the genius of a Bentley is that it can function as a limousine when you need it to, then with the flick of a knurled shift knob make you feel like you're nearing the home stretch at Le Mans.
The Bentayga benefits from the attention of the marque's Mulliner
specialist coach-building department, making each example a truly bespoke creation. An extended range of 90 exterior colors is available, along with 15 interior leather colors and various high-gloss wood veneers and metal finishes.
There is never, ever anything that feels second-rate or shortcut about the interior of a Bentley, and the Bentayga's various surfaces, bits of upholstery, trim, knobs and switches are all exquisitely turned out.
There is the feeling, rarely achieved in any vehicle with six figures on its window, that the buyer is getting his money's worth. Beyond that the economics don't really matter, as we're firmly in "if you have to ask" territory here.
The finer details: Holland & Holland Range Rover
Holland & Holland
, established in London in 1835, holds two Royal Warrants. In addition to sporting arms they make very fine clothing and accessories for the sort of people who hold shooting parties at their country estates. And the Holland and Holland Range Rover is the ultimate vehicle for such outings
This model is a highly customized version of the luxury SUV brand's pinnacle model, the SVAutobiography
-- nothing to sniff at in civilian guise with its 550 hp supercharged V8 and sticker price of $199,495. In fact, it is precisely the owners of top-end Range Rovers that Bentley is targeting with the Bentayga.
The Holland & Holland Range Rover features a deployable, locking, leather-trimmed case designed to hold a pair of shotguns (not included) that feature Holland & Holland's signature acanthus scroll engraving, which can also be found on metalwork details inside the vehicle.
There's also a custom dashboard trim panel based on the diamond pattern found on the fore end of Holland & Holland rifles and shotguns, polished French walnut veneers matching the wood used on Holland & Holland gun stocks, extended leather upholstery and trim in an espresso and tan combination unique to the model, and various other appurtenances essential for sybaritic sporting expeditions.
And the winner is...
Both are equally capable off-road, with abilities for climbing hills, negotiating rocky terrain and wading through water -- commentators take delight in pointing out that most of these functions will never be put to the test by the eventual owners. The systems for dealing with these various obstacles and impediments are now so highly developed that one need merely push a button and the car does the rest with relative ease.
So, yes, the Bentayga is in fact the world's fastest, most exclusive and expensive SUV. But the Holland & Holland Range Rover runs a very close second.
If you're still conflicted, I suggest you simply buy both.