When Bentley launched an SUV in 2015, it was a bit like Huntsman releasing a hoodie, or Berry Bros & Rudd dropping an energy drink. It was just not cricket.

It was a lot worse. It was kite surfing.

But what a shrewd move it proved to be. Twenty thousand units later, it has not only defined a whole segment of the motoring industry, but became the standard bearer for an entire new class of vehicle – the luxury SUV.

Where the likes of Aston Martin and Maserati first turned their noses up at SUVs, each marque has come in line, with tail between legs.

Many have now had a pop at the Bentayga’s crown, but few have got close to its all-round capabilities.

It’s strange to think now that the Bentayga has only been around for five years. On paper, the original brief was almost laughable: the Bentayga needed the speed of a supercar, the luxury of a limousine, and the traction of a tractor.

Yet, £840m of investment goes a long way, and Bentley managed to pull it off. The Bentayga now represents 45% of Bentley sales – and remains the best selling luxury SUV fullstop.

However, laurel-resting has never been Bentley’s style. So, here I am, with the Bentayga 2 sitting on my driveway. What’s left of my driveway, anyway.

The original Bentayga always had presence (that’s marketing lingo for ‘it’s bloody huge’), but if the old version was a punch in the face, this new one is a bear hug.

Fortunately, it’s a lot better looking than a grizzly. The main criticism levied against the original Bentayga was its aesthetics – bold yes, beautiful no.

The new Bentayga's stance is more bull at the gates than bull in a china shop

The new version puts that to rest. Where the original felt like a Continental GT that had been warped in a funhouse mirror, this new model feels much more like the Conti’s hench big brother – a Chris Hemsworth to Liam, if you will.

Bentley’s current design DNA is evident across the car – from the elliptical lights to the diamond motifs – and overall the new Bentayga looks a lot more comfortable in its skin.

The front end is more confident, the grille stretching wider than before. And the rear taillights are a huge improvement – elliptical eyelets, mirroring the quad exhausts below in what has become a Bentley trademark.

There’s a longer, more elegant rear spoiler, which helps the new Bentayga’s overall stance – which is now more bull at the gates than bull in a china shop.

Bentley Bentayga 2
Bentley Bentayga

Internal affairs

This is no mere facelift. There have been more than 1,000 changes made to the new Bentayga – inside as well as out.

Open the doors, and as with any Bentley there’s stitching worthy of the Bayeux tapestry and enough leather to drown in.

But new to this Bentayga are its suave air vents and central clock, which crowns the winged dashboard. There’s no coincidence, I’m sure, that the shape mirrors Bentley’s logo, proudly embossed on the steering wheel beside it.

There’s a new digital display – bigger, brighter, and finished with an anti-reflective coating.

The user interface has been improved, too: a touchscreen for the new money or buttons for the old school. Bentley doesn’t presume to know which type you are, just that it has both in its clientbase. Why cater for one, when you can offer the full buffet?

As for the passengers, there’s 30mm more leg room in the rear for upright; 100mm for reclined. And they will have a five-inch touchscreen remote control to control everything from the music down to seat massages. Just don’t let the kids at it.

Connectivity has been improved with more USB ports, Apple Play and Android Auto as standard, not to mention wireless phone charge and signal booster.

Diamond standard

Time was the only diamonds you’d find in a Bentley were on the hobnailing of the gear knob and on the Patek of the owner.

But the designers have taken this shape – surely the ultimate symbolic of luxury – and run with it.

There’s now diamond quilting on the seats and inside the doors, as well as new diamond speaker fret design on the Naim Audio speakers. The cut crystal headlamps continue the theme on the outside, each one as intricate as a Baccarat vase.

They each contain 48 LEDS and deliver a matrix beam – this is essentially the gentlemen’s light, allowing fullbeam for the driver, but diverting its glare from any oncoming vehicles.

There are even terrain specific light modes for low beam – town mode (under 30mph) that offers a short but wide beam; country mode (30mph-60mph) where the dipped beam lifts and narrows to lengthen its illumination; and motorway mode, which takes the same effect up a gear.

Speaking of which, that is something you will certainly want to do.

The launch model comes fitted with Bentley’s epic V8 4.0-litre engine – complete with dual twin-scroll turbo chargers.

That’s 542bhp and 770Nm torque if you’re into your numbers; or ‘whopppeeee’ if you prefer words.

Honestly, for a car that is so grown-up and serious, it is just so much fun to drive. You can throw it around corners like a hothatch – and despite its considerable weight, it will barely flinch.

That’s 542bhp and 770Nm torque if you’re into your numbers; or ‘whopppeeee’ if you prefer words.

A lot of that can be credited to Bentley’s 48V anti-roll architecture, which remains the best in the business, despite being launched in – guess what? – the original Bentayga.

There’s no way something this heavy should remain this planted, but yet with physics-defying flair somehow it does.

As we go to press, the Speed model has just been launched. I can’t quite imagine driving one with even more poke, but if a 4-litre V8 isn’t enough for you, then a 6-litre W12 should do the job.

And if you’re more concerned about the environment than your 0-60mph time, a hybrid is coming next.

The SUV market is predicted exponential growth – and with this new Bentayga, Bentley is yet again leading the charge.

For more information, see bentleymotors.com