FUTURE CLASSICS? Bentley Bentayga V8 vs Mercedes-AMG G63

Bentley G63

Will SUVs someday be considered modern classics? We drive two prime examples that might stand a chance, Mercedes-AMG’s G63 AMG and Bentley’s Bentayga V8. 

Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms

Photos: Simon Luckhoff

The rise in popularity of the SUV over the past two decades has been quite phenomenal. It might have started off with products from mainly run-of-the-mill manufacturers, but that has now changed to nearly all manufacturers including Aston Martin, Lamborghini and very soon Ferrari. Who could have predicted that 10 years ago!

Bentley G63

These SUVs might not be as desirable as some sportscars to most petrolheads (and completely disregarded by other petrolheads), but it goes without saying that the luxurious and powerful SUVs do offer comfort, performance, safety and some level of exhilaration when you use all the performance. That begs the question, will they become modern classics in a few years’ time?

The Bentley

It must be said that, for the past few decades, Volkswagen has done an impressive job in not only acquiring a very diverse portfolio of brands, but also keeping each marque's identity separate. After all, the company's so-called MLB Evo platform forms the basis for the VW Touareg, Audi Q7/Q8, Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus and the subject of this article, the Bentayga. Of course, the suspension and basic structure may be shared, but in the details the Bentayga differs quite vastly from its siblings. 

Bentley Bentayga

There is no denying that the modern styling we’ve seen on Bentley’s sedans and coupés has been beautifully transferred to the Bentayga. The double front lights, massive grille and pronounced rear arches are well-known elements of the current and previous models. 

The recognisable Bentley elements continue when you open the door and make yourself comfortable in one of the most luxurious SUV cabins on the market.
The high-quality materials leave you in no doubt that you are sitting in a Bentley while there is, as there should be, still some traditional organ stops. 

Bentley Bentayga

Equipped with the VW Group’s 4.0-litre, V8 twin-turbopetrol, it produces a healthy 404 kW and 770 Nm. The result is a claimed 0-100 km/h acceleration time of only 4.5 seconds. Keep in mind that this is for a car weighing more than 2.4 tonnes. But that is not the only reason why this "car" is impressive.

When you gain the key to an SUV such as this, ride quality should surely also be close to the top of your priority list. That the Bentley does very well, too. Heading up Kloof Nek Road and then making our way along Tafelberg Road, the Bentley is simply effortless – accelerating briskly with only minor throttle inputs while wafting along. What also helps with this ride quality is the fact that this Bentley is not fitted ultra low-profile rubber, but rather appropriate tyres that offer a decent amount of side wall.

The G63


The macho G63 is roughly in the same price bracket, new and used. However, when it comes to heritage, the G-wagon, or to use its correct German name, Geländewagen, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. The Geländewagen predates the modern-day SUV. Although it can’t trace its root back to as early as the Toyota Land Cruiser, Jeep and Land Rover, it was released already in 1979, while development started as early as 1972. It quickly became a vehicle used globally by different military forces. But, for civilians it became a real treat when AMG released its brawny derivatives in the Nineties, but most notably in the 2000s with the G55, G63 and even for a short time the G65!


Although the current G-wagon is basically all-new compared to its predecessor, Mercedes-Benz has done a perfect job in keeping most of the fundamentals that made the G-wagon stand out from the crowd. This includes, to name a few, the overall boxy design, the solid thud when you shut (not close, but shut) the doors and the driving experience. 

430 kW and 850 Nm on a ladder frame chassis make for rather a fun and interesting driving experience. Behind the wheel the upright, but beautifully covered, dashboard and view over the flat bonnet with the protruding indicator lights on the corners, leave you in no doubt as to the car you are driving. 


There is more of a "bobbing-along" feeling in the cabin compared to the Bentley, but that is simply part of the experience. It also feels more utilitarian in the view from the cabin and the seating position – but you have a near-perfect view from the driver’s seat.

And it just has so much grunt. It doesn't really matter at what speed you're travelling, when you plant your right foot the G63 thunders forward. In fact, because of its boxy looks (and heritage), it takes time to get used to the way it drives - it simply never seizes to put a smile on your face.

Bentley G63

Both of these SUVs command attention on the roads, but I just can’t help but be drawn more to the G63 than the Bentley. The latter is arguably the better car, but the G63 is more fun, quirky and has a deeper heritage than the Bentley. 

I asked each of the two young enthusiasts who joined me for the drive which car they would prefer. Each SUV got a vote. However, when I asked the one who picked the Bentley if he would pick the Bentayga or a Bentley sedan, he said the latter. I guess some SUVs will take more time to be accepted as being truly representative of a brand in enthusiasts’ heads than others. 


Thanks to The Archive for making both these cars available, which has already been sold. Contact them on 021 812 0450. 


2022 Mercedes-AMG G63 

Engine: 4.0-litre, V8 twin-turbopetrol

Power: 430 kW @ 6 000 rpm

Torque: 850 Nm @ 2 500 rpm 

Transmission: 9-speed auto, AWD

Weight: 2 560 kg

0-100 km/h: 4.5 seconds

Top speed: 220 km/h

2020 Bentley Bentayga V8

Engine: 4.0-litre, V8 twin-turbopetrol

Power: 404 kW @ 6 000 rpm

Torque: 770 Nm @ 2 000 rpm 

Transmission: 8-speed auto, AWD

Weight: 2 416 kg

0-100 km/h: 4.5 seconds

Top speed: 290 km/h

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