Waft: from the rich smell of the leather as you open the barn-sized doors to the unerring swoosh delivered by the W12 engine, there’s no other word that so aptly sums up the Bentayga.
It’s like the automobile version of swagger, and this Bentley has it by the bucket load.
For several years, the Bentayga had the luxury SUV market largely to itself – and despite more recent plays by Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, BMW et al, the Bentayga is still difficult to beat for all-round automotive excellence – especially in its latest Speed guise.
Now, we couldn’t have a Lamborghini Urus being the fastest production SUV in town, could we? So the Bentayga Speed was built to beat it – and it has, by a whopping 0.6mph. Still, every (half a) second counts. The resulting top speed of 190.1mph is academic oneupmanship but an impressive feat nonetheless.
Bentley’s already prodigious engine has been given a 26bhp boost from the standard issue W12 – up to 626bhp. The result is a 0.2-second faster dash to 62mph – 3.9 seconds in total, since you ask. That’s staggering for a car that weighs the best part of two and half tonnes.
Which is where the optional carbon ceramic brakes come in – it’s a lot of load to stop, but thanks to some of the largest calipers in the business, the Bentley can’t half brake.
The Bentayga is still difficult to beat for all-round automotive excellence – especially in its latest Speed guise
How does it look
There’s no denying the Bentayga is more Bauhaus than beauty. Indeed, for the fortnight we had it, it was nicknamed The Beast by my family. It’s big. Very big. Small-country big. So there is a lot of room for the kids, friends, or the camera crew of your reality TV show.
The Speed version has some subtle tweaks that elevate it: new bumpers; a more muscular wing; and a bespoke wheel design. The most noticeable difference is an epic Akrapovič exhaust system, which helps amplify every glorious pop, whoop and snarl coming out of the Speed’s rear end.
How does it drive
Chuck it in ‘Sport’ mode, and the Beast sobriquet comes even more fitting. The acceleration is unerring – there really is no discernable lag.
The mind-boggling 48-volt roll-control system also means the Bentayga can corner. There are 90 computers in the Bentayga’s network; and more than 100 million lines of proprietary code employed – it’s amazing how far a large brain goes into counteracting the effects of physics.
But select ‘Comfort’ mode or the best-of-both ‘Bentley’ mode and it’s all about that waft.
Alcantara is available for the first time in a Bentayga – even on the heated steering wheel, which all helps relax you into what can be one of the most calming driving experiences this side of well, a Bentley Saloon.
Throw in the 22-way massage seats – with their impressive menu of different pulses and pushes – and you have to be careful not to drift off behind the wheel.
So, would you?
Plenty of people have. Bentley’s production capacity of 5,000 annual units was sold before the original Bentayga was launched. And this Speed variant is the most complete version of the SUV yet. You do have to have fairly thick skin and an even thicker wallet, though…
For more information, see bentleymotors.com