Priced from £136,200 Release date On sale now
For a car that sells in such relatively low volumes, it’s remarkable that the Bentley Bentayga SUV now offers a choice of three engines.
There’s the big-hitting, effortlessly strong, twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 petrol, plus the comparatively efficient 4.0-litre V8 diesel, which won its price point at the 2018 What Car? Car of the Year Awards. And now you can also have a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol, an engine shared with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Audi RS6, among other performance cars in the Volkswagen Group empire.
The numbers are not quite as otherworldly as those touted by the 608bhp W12, but this petrol V8 still generates 542bhp. Plus, it generates 569lb ft of torque from just 1960rpm, so should endow the Bentayga with serious acceleration in any gear at any speed.
Fewer cylinders mean better fuel economy, too, although in this case the difference is small, with the V8 managing an official average of 24.8mpg to the W12’s 21.6mpg. It’s worth mentioning that the diesel, while less powerful, musters 35.8mpg.
The Bentayga’s outstanding versatility is otherwise preserved, and the V8 petrol model comes with a range of safety aids and the option of All-Terrain technology, with 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's 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 set to Comfort, you get effortless propulsion at all speeds, and there’s barely a murmur from the engine during motorway cruising. Moreover, the eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s carried over from the rest of the Bentayga range is sensationally smooth most of the time, only stuttering slightly when you lift off the accelerator and coast for a few seconds. Dial things 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 Bentayga develops its power and delivers it to the ground, there’s almost nothing to criticise, and it has a tasty V8 exhaust note, too.
As for the ride, it’s pretty sensational, given the forces at play. The petrol V8 model benefits from the same adaptive air suspension as the W12 version, including 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 lean for a car of such vast height and weight.
The V8 Bentayga is not as dynamically sharp as the latest Porsche Cayenne Turbo – nothing in this class is – and it forfeits an element of fun in the pursuit of refinement. But that feels like a fair trade-off in a car of this sort.
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, although the digital displays look a little dated and the touchscreen infotainment system isn’t as easy to use as the MMI set-up in the Audi Q7, with which the Bentagya shares its platform. 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.
Should you want a deeper dive into the Bentayga's interior, have a look at our extensive four-point review.
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