Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
If you’re disappointed that the Bentley Bentayga is currently available only in V8 form ahead of the range-topping W12 arriving, don’t be.
For one thing, this engine sounds better than the larger W12, with a pleasingly subtle woofle emitted for its two oval exhaust pipes (an optional Akrapovic sports alternative is available for extroverts).
Anyway, it’s not as though it lacks power – it puts out a whopping 542bhp. So, despite the fact that the Bentayga weighs the best part of 2.5 tonnes, in "mere" V8 guise it will still complete the run from 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds and, given the room, will go on to a top speed of 180mph.
Of course, more focused performance SUVs such as the Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S are quicker still, but the Bentayga never feels anything less than effortless in the way it demolishes the road ahead of you.
A big part of that is down to the silky-smooth eight-speed ZF-made gearbox. When you push on, it always seems to be in the right gear at the right time, rendering the column-mounted paddles redundant.
In dynamic terms, the changes made in 2020 brought improvements in steering precision and made the car fractionally keener on turn in to a corner. However, despite having acres of grip and clever 48-volt anti-roll bars that help to prop the body up in the bends, it’s nowhere near as sharp as an Aston Martin DBX or a Urus. Of course, that’s not to say it's not agile – it feels controlled and flows with a reassuring cohesiveness along fast B-roads – but those cars are more animated in the corners and offer greater steering feel.
What the DBX and Urus cars gain in agility, though, they lose in outright comfort. The Bentayga has four on-road driving modes and four off-road ones that control its air suspension and four-wheel drive powertrain.
In Comfort, the ride is relatively sumptuous. You only feel the occasional disturbance over sharp-edged bumps, and even if you ramp things up to Sport mode, it never become excessively firm – and that can’t be said for the DBX.
Compared with those more ‘focused’ rivals, refinement is pretty impressive, too. At a cruise, the V8 falls silent, while wind noise is kept to a minimum, despite the car’s bluff shape.
Road noise is noticeable on optional 22in wheels, whereas the standard 21in wheels are appreciably better in this regard, barely telegraphing any difference between smooth tarmac and more rambunctious concrete at motorway speeds. Over larger bumps, there is a fair ‘thunk’ from the air suspension, but that’s probably due to the absence of other background noise to disguise it.
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