6.0L W12 good for 626 hp, more than Rolls Cullinan, AMG GLS63, BMW X5M Competition
“World first” electronic active roll technology
88 exterior colour options
Today, Bentley pulled the wraps off the “Speed” version of its Bentayga SUV, which sees the return of a W12 engine to the recently-facelifted Bentayga. Up until now, the only engine you could get with the Bentayga was a twin-turbo, 542 hp V8. That’s no small power figure, of course, but stepping up to the Speed and its 6-litre W12 unlocks the door to 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. That means that the Bentayga now sits is rarefied air in the SUV world – that is to say the 600+ hp club occupied by the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk and very little else.
The Bentayga Speed makes more horsepower than any SUV offered by Mercedes-AMG or BMW’s M Division, and more power and torque than what’s made by the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Bentley claims that paired with AWD and the Bentayga’s 8-speed automatic transmission, it’s enough to power Bentley’s truck to 100 km/h from stop in a scant 3.9 seconds.
Stylistic changes are present in the form of dark-tinted headlights and grille, body-coloured side skirts, special front and rear bumpers, rear wing and oval tailpipes. Oh, and those rims? They measure 22 inches, meaning an even more aggressive and squat stance. And some proper bling, too, if you select the shinier of the two available finishes. Always important in the Bentley world. There are also a total of 88 different exterior colours including 24 dual-tone options. Oh, and if you want to “de-blingify” your Bentayga Speed, there’s always the Black Specification, which replaces all that chrome with plastic or carbon fibre elements. The spoiler, side skirts and front bumper also get carbon fibre, all hand-shaped.
The new look, Black Spec or not, is a good fit for the Bentayga, which has always looked a little more futuristic than its posh price tag suggests it should. This one is just that much more purposeful, and that’s a very good thing.
In order to keep all that mass and power in check, the Bentayga Speed gets what Bentley claims to be the world’s first-ever electric active roll tech, that ensures the Speed stays planted through corners and under heavy braking and acceleration. Which is important because with optional ceramic brakes, stopping times will be properly aggressive and you don’t want that to upset the chassis. The way the chassis responds changes depending on which of the four driving modes is selected. They range from Comfort to Sport, Custom and “Bentley” – that last one is a set of settings that engineers at Crewe have chosen for the most balanced drive.
When it’s time to lay off the throttle and just easily cruise to the opera, the W12 can operate on just six cylinders for more efficient progress. The front wheels can also be decoupled for even better efficiency.
Inside, various tints of hide make for a “split” look to interior fabrics, and Alcantara are now standard throughout the cabin for a more performance-oriented feel. The Alcantara can also be substituted for the “split” leather if buyers so choose. “Speed” embroidery in the seatbacks further designate the Speed as a special model.
The arrival of the Speed also denotes the arrival of all-new infotainment to the Bentayga, featuring a 10.9” high-resolution touchscreen with a customizable tiled alignment. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also now standard, an upgrade from what was previously a wired interface. The gauge cluster is also now fully digitized and there’s a heads-up display that can now display traffic information, street names and distance to destination. That’s great, but it feels a little bit like a case of “the other guys is doing this, so we’d better get on it.” The same goes for the digital gauge cluster, which can be modified to two way when the likes of Mercedes and Audi are offering a lot more choice than that.
If the addition of the Speed doesn’t provide enough choice when it comes to selecting your Bentayga, you may want to wait for the Hybrid version, likely to launch six months or so after the Speed, likely later this year or early 2021.