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.
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.