Bentley Bentayga V8

Bentley Bentayga V8, front
Bentley Bentayga V8, front
Bentley Bentayga V8, side
Bentley Bentayga V8, side
Bentley Bentayga V8, rear
Bentley Bentayga V8, rear
Bentley Bentayga V8, interior
Bentley Bentayga, dashboard

SOME time back if you had suggested that prestigious marques like Bentley and Rolls Royce would be making SUVs in the not too distant future people would have laughed - and they would have been laughing at you rather than with you.

Bentley's Bentayga might not be too all tastes but there is clearly a market for it and similar vehicles - otherwise people wouldn't be making them.

Now that Bentley, Lamborghini, Maserati, Porsche and Rolls Royce are turning them out - just like mainstream manufacturers - the seriously upmarket SUV is very much a reality.

There are essentially five versions of the Bentayga available - a diesel, a hybrid, a V8, a W12 and the Speed.

The Speed is very much in super SUV territory, being powered by an uprated version of Bentley's six-litre W12 twin-turbocharged engine.

It can travel from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 190mph.

The V8 is more pedestrian but certainly no sloucher and still boasts handling and performance which seem to defy the laws of physics, given the Bentayga's bulk and stature.

My previous experience behind the wheel of the Bentayga was in the diesel version.

It too is smooth and swift and packs an impressive performance punch.

If I were trying to be frugal (and I doubt whether many Bentley owners need to be) I would perhaps be tempted by the diesel but the V8 model is in many ways the pick of the bunch.

In performance terms it isn't really that far off the pace of the standard W12 but it is significantly more efficient when it comes to economy and emissions.

It also outshines the diesel when it comes to performance too.

If you need or want an SUV, have deep pockets and really like the idea of being a Bentley owner, then it ticks plenty of boxes.

When I say it is more economical than its 6.0-litre stablemate I am of course speaking relatively - it has a combined economy figure of 24.8mpg.

Efficiency, relatively speaking, is further boosted by stop-start and cylinder deactivation technology transforming the V8 into V4 when leisurely pootling along.

The adaptive air suspension system offers a tremendous boost to the overall Bentayga experience, from a driving perspective and when it comes to ride quality and comfort, both of which are sublime.

There are several driving modes, including Comfort, Sport and an in between ‘Bentley' setting.

The V8 emits a pleasing purr which can be transformed into a guttural roar when Sport mode is engaged and you put your foot down.

From a performance point of view it really is quite breathtaking. Its acceleration could put many decent sports cars to shame and the handling is hard to get your head around.

Quite how it stays so flat when cornering at speed is hard to comprehend.

One can never quite get away from its sheer bulk - at the end of the day this is a 3.2 ton SUV - but for a vehicle like this to handle the way it does is strangely pleasing and makes for a surprisingly fun driver's car.

The jury might still be out on whether traditional upmarket car makers like Bentley and Rolls Royce should be going down the SUV route and there are certainly styling challenges, but overall the Bentayga is nicely sculpted and displays more than enough Bentley DNA.

The interior is even more Bentleyesque, in what essentially is an SUV limousine.

Wood and leather combine perfectly with the organ stop ventilation controls to deliver interior ergonomics that really are hard to beat and showcase British craftsmanship at its finest.

FAST FACTS

Bentley Bentayga V8

Price: £136,900

Mechanical: 542bhp, 3,996cc, 8cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 180mph

0-62mph: 4.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 24.8

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 296g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles

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