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For a car that sells in such relatively low volumes, it’s remarkable that the Bentley Bentayga SUV can now be had with one of three engines.
There’s the big-hitting, effortlessly strong, twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 petrol, plus the comparatively efficient 4.0-litre V8 diesel, which we like very much. Now, however, there's also the option of a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol, an engine shared with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Audi RS6, among other performance cars in the VW Group empire.
The numbers are suitably impressive, though not quite as otherworldly as those touted by the 600bhp-plus W12. This V8 generates ‘just’ 542bhp, but it arrives later in the rev range, which should prove more exciting. It also generates 569lb ft of torque, which arrives low down, at 1960rpm, and should endow this Bentayga meaningful acceleration in any gear at any speed.
Fewer cylinders mean better fuel economy, too, though in this case the difference is small, with the V8 managing a claimed combined 24.8mpg to the W12’s 21.6mpg. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the diesel, though less powerful, musters a combined 35.8mpg.
The Bentayga’s outstanding versatility is otherwise preserved, and the V8 petrol model comes with a range of safety technology and the option of All-Terrain technology, with chassis presets for varying surfaces, such as snow and grass, or dirt and gravel.
2018 Bentley Bentayga 4.0 V8 on the road
This twin-turbocharged V8 slips into the Bentayga’s engine bay like one’s hand would into a tailored glove. That is not to say that the physical fit is tight – there’s enough space up front for the 6.0-litre W12, remember – but that there’s a nice match here in terms of character and performance.
With the drive-mode selector in Comfort mode you’ll get effortless propulsion at all speeds, and there’s barely a murmur from the powertrain during motorway cruising. Moreover, the eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s carried over from the rest of the Bentayga range remains sensationally smooth at all times. Dial it up to Sport and call for maximum acceleration, though, and this 2.3-tonne SUV will leap forward with the vigour of a purpose-built sports car.
Overall, in terms of the way this car develops its power and delivers it to ground, there’s almost nothing to criticise, and you get a tasty V8 exhaust note, too.
As for the ride, it’s pretty sensational given the forces at play. The petrol V8 model enjoys the same adaptive air suspension as the W12 version – and that includes the clever active anti-roll bars. These allow the car to glide along beautifully in a straight line, absorbing lumps and bumps with an effortlessness bordering on disdain, yet still corner with remarkably little body roll for a car of such vast height and weight.
The V8 Bentayga is not as dynamically sharp as Porsche’s new Cayenne Turbo – arguably, nothing in this class is – and it forfeits an element of fun in the pursuit of refinement. But then that’s to be expected from a Bentley.
2018 Bentley Bentayga 4.0 V8 interior
The changes inside are subtle – this is merely a new engine variant, not an all-new model – and are orientated around personalisation. You can, for instance, now opt for a high-gloss carbonfibre finish where before the only choice was matt, and there’s a new wood and leather steering wheel, plus a novel hue for the hide – a deep red named ‘Cricket Ball’.
The quality of the materials is suitably high, though the digital displays are perhaps beginning to show their age and the touchscreen infotainment system isn’t as easy to use as the Audi Q7’s, on which the Bentagya is based. The effectiveness of the driving position, however, is class-leading.
Bentley reckons the average Bentayga customer will tick options boxes to the tune of £40,000. Given that a carbon exterior trim packs costs £15,000 and the Touring pack, which includes relatively basic amenities such as adaptive cruise control, a head-up display and lane-keeping assist, comes in at £6225, it’s easy to see how. Our test car optioned to more than £215,000.
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