Bentleyâ€™s impressive SUV now comes with a 542bhp V8 engine
Bentley Bentayga V8
Price: From Â£136,200
Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbo, petrol
Torque: 568lb ft
Gearbox: 8-spd auto
Kerb weight: 2388kg
Top speed: 171mph
Economy: 24.8mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 260g/km
Weâ€™ve already had it in W12 petrol and V8 diesel guises. Now it’s time for Bentleyâ€™s luxury SUV to impress in its third and perhaps most compelling engine format â€“ the â€˜old schoolâ€™ V8.
Thereâ€™s nothing retro about this 4.0-litre 90-degree V8 with two twin-scroll turbochargers, however. Porsche Cayenne Turbo owners already know it, and the upcoming gen-two Bentley Continental GT will get this unit too. Itâ€™s outgunned by the 6.0-litre W12 model in both power and torque, with 542bhp at 6000rpm against the big â€˜unâ€™s 610bhp at 5000rpm.
The torque shortfall is even more marked at nearly 100lb/ft, but few will sniff at the V8â€™s 568lb/ft. Though itâ€™s almost half a second slower through the 0-62mph dash at 4.4 seconds and 12mph down on the W12â€™s 192mph top speed, these are notional â€˜problemsâ€™ in the hushed, plush world of Ã¼ber-luxury.
Where the slightly lighter 2388kg V8 Bentayga scores over the W12 is in efficiency. Stop-start and cylinder deactivation tech helps it to deliver a combined figure of 24.8mpg versus the W12â€™s 21.6mpg. Both are a long way short of the dieselâ€™s 35.8mpg. though.
Redlining at 7000rpm, this V8 is the highest-revving road Bentley ever, and it encourages you to explore those upper reaches too. Maximum torque is available in a wide band from 1960rpm to 4500rpm. Running through ZFâ€™s peerless eight-speed transmission, the power/torque mix is very tough to criticise. Only a little too much turbo lag â€“ something the V8 shares with the W12 â€“ spoils the sporting party, which may be an issue with the V8 as itâ€™s being presented as sporty model.
The V8 engine will burst through its mannered everyday civility when provoked, shooting the Bentayga forward in eye-opening fashion and fading modestly into the background once cruising velocity has been attained. The offbeat muscle car tone that Bentley was hoping to achieve isnâ€™t quite there, but itâ€™s more characterful than the W12 and there is an Akrapovic-developed sports exhaust on the way, if thatâ€™s what you want in a car like this.
With the new mechanicals come some new brake options, including massive Bugatti Chiron-shaming carbon-ceramic 440mm front disc brakes, the biggest on any production car according to Bentley. Red calipers are allowed on the V8 too, though still not on the W12.
Other differences between the V8 Bentaygas and the W12s are harder to spot. Most V8s will use â€˜sportierâ€™ gloss black for their exterior trim rather than chrome, but no changes have been made to the W12â€™s adaptive air suspension which has four ride heights and many modes from Comfort to Sport, including the well- judged â€˜Bentleyâ€™ setting. Active roll bars keep the body eerily flat up to cornering forces of 0.6G, at which point the car will lean a little just to remind you that a car of this bulk will make a considerable hole in the average (or not so average) hedge.
Bentley reckons thereâ€™s extra steering feel in the new V8. On damp Austrian launch roads with winter tyres fitted, we couldn’t detect it, but it would be churlish to demand Lotus-like chassis communication from something this large, given that it does such a good job of delivering superb luxury with genuine off-road ability and thunderous straightline performance.
The W12 Bentayga continues as a breathtakingly quick machine that will despatch all but the most focused hypercars. The new V8 isnâ€™t quite so gobsmackingly powerful, but you could easily argue that itâ€™s a more rounded car â€“ and itâ€™s Â£30,000 cheaper too, with lower running costs.
You canâ€™t really flag a car like this up as a â€˜cheap optionâ€™, mind. Bentley admits that the average Bentayga buyer will add around Â£40,000 worth of options. Itâ€™s easily done: the carbon exterior trim pack is Â£15,000 while the Touring pack (with not-so-exclusive features like adaptive cruise control, a head-up display and lane-keeping assist) is Â£6225. Our test car wore nearly Â£80,000 worth of options.
If money (or keeping what money you have) is important, the Bentayga V8 diesel is about the same price as the V8 petrol and is blessed with a remarkably quiet, responsive engine. For those who simply want a relaxed luxury express rather than a jacked-up sports car â€“ which is more the V8 proposition â€“ the oil-burner is every bit as sensible a choice.