Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
If your car weighs the best part of 2.5 tonnes and you want it to reach 60mph in 4.0sec on its way to 187mph, you’re going to need a massive engine. How about a 6.0-litre unit with 12 cylinders and two turbochargers? Yep, that should do the trick.
The W12 engine's towering low-down torque makes it extremely easy to build speed and it cruises with amazing quietness. It can't be overstated is just how effortlessly rapid it feels, but that comes at the expense of a prodigious thirst, as you might expect.
There may be cylinder deactivation technology fitted as standard, but don't expect this engine to give your wallet anything but a hard time – it officially promises just 21.6mpg. In reality you'll be lucky to get anywhere near that and it still emits a lot of CO2.
In reality, the V8 petrol a far more sensible choice. In terms of the way it develops its power and delivers it to the ground, it doesn't give a huge amount away to the W12 and you get a tasty V8 exhaust note into the bargain. It still emits a lot of CO2, but should prove to be a little more economical than the W12.
The final option is the V6 hybrid, which combines petrol and electric power to deliver strong performance and potentially decent economy. The batteries need charging via a plug, but when they are full you can drive around 15-20 miles on electric power alone in the real world (the official claim is just under 25 miles) or use the electricity to boost petrol-powered performance.
The result is a hybrid that can be both rapid from a standstill and - if regularly plugged in - deliver incredible economy, as well as the associated tax and Congestion Charge savings if appropriate. Bentley purists may quibble, but it is a potentially enticing combination.
Whichever engine you choose, be assured that it'll leave an Audi Q7 in the dust in a drag race. Refinement is impressive, too. Wind and road noise are kept to a minimum, despite the car’s bluff shape and wide tyres.
The Bentayga has four on-road driving modes and four off-road ones that control its air suspension and four-wheel drive powertrain. The ride is generally good; you'll only feel the occasional disturbance over sharp-edged bumps. It doesn’t matter that much whether you’re in Comfort or Sport (or the default 'Bentley') mode because things never become overly firm.
In addition, active anti-roll bars are fitted. In corners, they quickly stiffen to minimise body roll and keep that hefty body in check, and the system works with remarkable effect. Ultimately, while the Bentayga doesn’t have quite the cushioning ride of a Range Rover, it’ll easily out-handle one. Similarly, the Cullinan has an exquisite ride, but it's slower than the Bentayga and nothing like as agile.
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