Ungainly Bentayga 'Cayennes' Bentley In Its First Month On The Market

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
ungainly bentayga cayennes bentley in its first month on the market

Mercedes-Benz began selling the ML in 1997. Seemingly more of a stretch, along came the BMW X5 two years later.

Then Porsche, not just a luxury carmaker but the preeminent German sports car builder, pulled the same stunt with the Cayenne in 2003. The move doesn’t seem so crazy now that Porsche produces 60 percent of its U.S. sales by way of the Cayenne and its little brother, the Macan.

Indeed, there were no surprises when earlier this year, in one fell swoop, the F-Pace became Jaguar’s best-selling model in its first month on the market, outselling the newly re-launched XF and the brand new XE right from the start.

But can the same strategy be replicated further upmarket? Much further upmarket, at a $232,000 price point? At a brand which suffered a 46-percent year-over-year sales decline in 2016’s first seven months?

Most definitely. The Bentayga is to Bentley what the Cayenne became to Porsche, what the F-Pace has already become at Jaguar. Only more so.

Ugly doesn’t seem so stand in the way of upmarket SUV success. The first Porsche Cayenne was nothing if not stylistically challenged, yet by 2006 the Cayenne was Porsche USA’s best-selling model, accounting for 43 percent of the brand’s sales.

With a face (and body) only a mother (and a slew of well-heeled buyers) could love, in the words of our own Steph Willems, the Bentayga may not be as ghastly as its EXP 9 F concept forerunner, but it’s no F-Pace. It’s no Range Rover. Let’s be honest: the Bentayga doesn’t hold a candle to the Mazda CX-3.

Subjective styling analysis aside — even if the TTAC masthead and B&B is largely in agreement — we do know that Bentley sales were in the toilet heading into August.

Following an end-of-year surge to 581 sales circa Christmas 2015, Bentley volume decreased in seven consecutive months, year-over-year. U.S. sales in January and February fell into double-digits for just the second and third time in 61 months. February volume, in fact, tumbled to a 67-month low. Through July 2016, Bentley was on track for its worst U.S. sales year since 2010, when the recession blues had caused Bentley volume to plunge by two-thirds from its 2007 peak.

SUVs to the rescue! After averaging 113 monthly sales between January and July, Bentley reported 399 sales in August 2016, the first month of Bentayga sales, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

There was little help from the Volkswagen-owned, British brand’s establishment. Other Bentleys tumbled 23 percent, though the Mulsanne flagship recorded an eight-unit uptick to 19 sales. Flying Spur volume was cut in half. Continental GT volume decreased 8 percent.

The Bentayga generated 56 percent of all Bentley sales. Pent-up demand for a long-awaited model — yes, people put their names on waiting lists for vehicles this hideous — explains a portion of the Bentayga’s possibly exaggerated first-month success. But who are we kidding: specific trim levels of the Range Rover aside, the market has largely been devoid of an ultra-high-end luxury SUV to line up alongside Mulsannes and Phantoms and Rapides and Maybachs. It won’t be surprising to see long-term demand for the Bentayga.

If the Bentayga was the only Bentley on sale in America in August, its 223 sales would still have produced Bentley’s best month of sales this year, and by a long shot.

By the standards of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, crossovers that routinely attract more than 30,000 buyers every month, the Bentayga is undoubtedly a rare beast. Yet in August, the big Bentley wasn’t that much more uncommon than some far more affordable utilities. Lincoln sold 273 MKTs in August; Toyota reported 270 Land Cruiser sales.

[Charts: © The Truth About Cars; Image: Bentley; Bentley sales source: Automotive News Data Center]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Jagboi Jagboi on Sep 08, 2016

    I assume those sales numbers are US only? How is Bentley doing for sales overall? I understand they sell a lot to China.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Sep 30, 2016

    Sales success aside -it's an undistinguished slab sided bolide with nothing apart from the badging to show it's heritage. This is simply creating a product for a market segment that scarcely existed a decade ago. If the hipsters suddenly decide that station wagons are "wicked cool" these jumbo gravel crushers will be sales poison.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.