Bentley Bentayga review

Category: Luxury SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:petrol
Available colours:
Bentley Bentayga 2020 rear cornering
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RRP from£148,930
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

If you’re disappointed that the Bentley Bentayga in 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, its two oval exhaust pipes emitting a distant woofle. And it’s not as if it wants for 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 this is down to Bentayga’s silky-smooth eight-speed ZF-made gearbox. When pushing on, it always seems to be in the right gear at the right time, rendering the column-mounted paddles redundant. That said, we should also point out that it can be a little hesitant around town – a problem that also afflicts the Audi SQ8, which shares the same ZF ‘box. So if you’re looking for the ultimate, smooth, chauffeur-driven vehicle, we’d advise you to take a look at a Rolls Royce Cullinan instead.

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 isn’t agile – it feels controlled and flows with a reassuring cohesiveness along fast B-roads – but those cars are simply more animated in the bends and offer greater steering feel. 

What those cars gain in agility, however, 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, and 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 (or the default 'Bentley') mode things never become overly firm – and that can’t be said for the DBX. 

Compared to 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. We’ve only tested the Bentayga on optional 22in wheels and road noise is noticeable but not invasive. We suspect it will be even quieter on the standard 21in wheels.

Bentley Bentayga 2020 rear cornering

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