From £133,1008
New Speed model replaces original W12 Bentayga, adding more power and poise to an already fine example of its art. Not much to look at, but great to travel in

Our Verdict

Bentley Bentayga

The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact of this most luxurious of luxury SUVs, which has few direct rivals with which to compare

  • First Drive

    Bentley Bentayga Speed 2019 review

    New Speed model replaces original W12 Bentayga, adding more power and poise to an already fine example of its art. Not much to look at, but great to travel in
  • First Drive

    Bentley Bentayga V8 2018 review

    The hugely capable high-end SUV is now available with a V8 engine. Does a smaller engine makes it an even more compelling luxury offering?
Bentley Bentayga Speed 2019

What is it?

Change comes fast down Bentley way. At the beginning of last year, those interested in a superbly engineered but excruciatingly entitled Bentayga could choose either the W12 standard car or a V8 diesel version. Neither now exists, the diesel swept into the gutter by the broom employed by the Volkswagen Group across all its brands to clean up its post-Dieselgate act, and the W12 now replaced by this, the Bentayga Speed. There’s a Bentayga Hybrid, too, featuring the first V6 in Bentley history and its first six-cylinder motor in 60 years, of which more in a few weeks' time.

Confusing, isn’t it? Nowhere in the press blurb that accompanied the Speed’s launch at the Geneva motor show can I see where it says it’s an ‘instead of’ rather than an ‘as well as’ but, as it turns out, the old W12 Bentayga slipped quietly out of production a year ago. To me, a Bentley Speed model is an addition to an existing range rather than a replacement, but apparently no longer.

Even so, all the hallmarks of a modern Bentley Speed model are there, such as increased power (from 603bhp to 626bhp) and a honed chassis tune, including firmer suspension and new settings in Sport mode that sharpen up the mapping for the engine, transmission and innovative 48V active roll control system. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available, too, but only as an option.

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Visually, you’ll probably notice the tail spoiler first, which I guess brings some presence but only at the price of making an already ugly exterior uglier still. But there are also smoked headlights, body-coloured side skirts, bespoke (and massive) 22in rims, a darkened grille and Speed badging. Meanwhile, the interior has been turned into a suede fetishist's delight with all the Alcantara that’s landed therein. It really shouldn’t work at all in such a car but somehow it does and really well, at least to these eyes. Besides, if you don’t like it, Bentley will do yours with leather at no extra cost.

Talking of which, the Bentayga Speed costs £182,500, nearly £20,000 more than the last price I can find for the defunct standard Bentayga and over £45,000 more than the most definitely extant Bentayga V8.

What's it like?

If you like this kind of car, and I concede that’s a fairly mighty ‘if’, you will likely love the Bentayga Speed. Forget the claim that it’s the world’s fastest SUV unless you consider a top speed 0.62mph higher than that of the Lamborghini Urus a deal sealer. Nor should you concern yourself with its 3.9sec 0-62mph run because it’s a scant tenth quicker than the non-Speed Bentayga, which was already plenty quick enough for a car weighing the same as a couple of base-spec VW Golfs.

Instead, feel the performance: yes, the Speed now only has the same engine that the non-Speed Continental GT has had all along (how confusing is that going to be when the actual Conti Speed turns up?), but it’s a wonderful motor, with a thundering voice and a bellyful of torque. Finally, Bentley’s modern 12-cylinder engine is starting to acquire the same level of character as its ancient pushrod V8 and the Bentayga is all the better both for it and its exceptionally deft interactions with its ZF gearbox.

The suspension changes are all for the good, too. The firmer settings have done no harm to the Bentayga’s always peachy ride quality and some might find they even prefer an additional degree of body control, given how much body there is in need of controlling. Best of all, its engineers have settled for merely a slightly sporting feel, which fits very well the character of both the car and the company. This is no sports car and nor does it try to be, yet it handles far better than anyone has a right to expect.

Should I buy one?

If you’re not into big, expensive and luxurious SUVs, not only will the Bentayga Speed fail to change your mind, but it will also more likely entrench your position. If you are, however, be advised that you can judge for yourself the worst aspects of this car simply by looking at this page.

If you can face, or even like, its appearance, if you don’t mind driving a car called a Bentley Bentayga, the rest of the news is entirely good apart, of course, when you have to drop another hundred quid’s worth of unleaded in it, which will be quite often.

For while Bentley is still struggling to get its head around what kind of style to present to the outside world, the substance is better than ever. Of course, the Bentayga comes from the same stock as the Audi Q8, Urus and Porsche Cayenne, but the virtue of a meal lies not only in its ingredients but also the skill of the chef. And the truth is this strong, silent, comfortable and cosseting big Bentley is as good an example of its art as exists out there at present.

Bentley Bentayga Speed specification

Where Crewe, UK Price £182,200 On sale Now Engine 12 cyls, 5950cc, turbo, petrol Power 626bhp at 5000rpm Torque 663lb ft at 1500rpm Gearbox 8-spd auto Kerb weight 2491kg Top speed 190mph 0-62mph 3.9sec Fuel economy 34.5mpg CO2 No WLTP data Rivals Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Lamborghini Urus, Audi Q8

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Comments
15

29 May 2019

Are you sure you have the economy correct, 34.5mpg from this would be great!!!

29 May 2019

34.5 mpg would be a miracle!

29 May 2019

The interior looks like a Pimp/Drug Dealer  1970's Lincoln 

29 May 2019

70's pimp interior - love it!

 

But the interior is still far more attractive than the exterior.  

 

It isn't possible to tell a joke that would make people laugh at you as much as if you drove one of these.  

 

It would help if you had a friend who had an even uglier Cullinan I suppose.

30 May 2019
I am one of the few who finds the interior worse than the exterior.
The clumsy way the centre console integrates (or rather miserably fails to integrate) with its adjacent panels is a visual tragedy.
For the new vastly improved Bentley interior, we see it in the Continental coupe - simple, each element beautifully defined, and with an elegant horizontal sweep across the whole width of the cabin.

30 May 2019
Black Dog wrote:

The interior looks like a Pimp/Drug Dealer  1970's Lincoln 

Yep - it's fabulous!!!

Some very lucky people are going to party seriously hard inside this thing.

29 May 2019

...So take any MPG figures with a large pinch of salt.

bol

29 May 2019

I followed one of these things into town the other day. I had a brief pang of remorse for my preconception that they must all be driven by people with little self awareness or conscience. Then I saw the BO55 numberplate and realised I should trust my prejudices after all. 

29 May 2019

This is one ugly brute.Even after being on sale for months it gets worse  to my eyes.I know someone  who has a Bentiager, I asked him why he bought it not for looks just cause he could . How sad and I just cant emagine those who designed it the first place stepping back and saying wow this is geart and beautuful. those awful awful headlights are just gross like the old Merc E type from years ago even then they looked odd. Also it has been said the interior is just Naff with a capitol N. Paris lady of the night comes to mind . And no befor you ask

29 May 2019

I completely understand that the vehicle looks gut-wrenchingly hideous to US or European eyes. Sadly the Rolls-Royce Cullinan looked even worse when I had the misfortune to see these two four-wheeled gargoyles together recently after eating lunch.

But, like the guppy-mouthed Seven Series these are not where the cusmers are. I did some work on Bentley years back and made a discovery. In markets like Saudi where conformist dress code is mandated there is a tendancy to use bling jewellery to compensate. This had passed me by before - and explains why that market tends towards super-overt automotive stements in cars. I'd love to know though whether this new Bentley is blingy enough in that context in the its core market(s)?

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