If you want a locomotive's torque, or you're A) Ferdinand Karl Piëch or B) two-time champion Rhys Millen trying to beat an old Range Rover's record up Pikes Peak, by all means, choose the regular 12-cylinder Bentayga. It starts at a cool $200,000, but you may want to spend 50 grand more for a well-equipped one, or even a hundred extra if the Mulliner trims are your jam.
But for everybody else, the new Bentayga V8 seems to be the Bentley SUV to have, at least for now. It's not only considerably cheaper, but also lighter and louder, and therefore younger at heart despite projecting the same message to all those Cayenne drivers: You drive a Bentley, while they certainly do not. Having said that, the Bentayga's new V8 is a Porsche engine, and like a Cayenne Turbo S, the Bentley offers ten-piston brake calipers and 17-inch carbon ceramic rotors up front.
This brings us to the two main arguments that generally come up against Bentley's second SUV. (Wonder no more: The pioneering one was a real unicorn called , built in 1996 in very limited numbers for Prince Jefri of Brunei.)
The first is that the Bentayga couldn't be further from being a handsome automobile. The good news for Bentley is that apparently, people who choose the Bentayga don't care about the exterior too much, not once they get an extended massage from the hand-stitched leather seats. From that point on, it's all about the cabin experience, and Crewe knows how to indulge its audience. Even if it means gluing high-gloss carbon fiber bits to every surface in a vehicle that weighs at least 5264 lbs, purely for the sake of a "contemporary, technical feel."
They mean enhanced sportiness of course, and while German brands sure love to talk about adding "dynamism" to their products, in this case, Bentley has every right to do so. The V8 is 110 lbs. lighter up front, and having 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft means this Bentayga will still get to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and then onward to an unrestricted 180 miles per hour. That's one fast cannonball.
Bentley was also quick to point out that this Porsche-developed, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is their highest revving engine to date, cutting fuel at 7000rpm. Perhaps more impressively, it also provides a range of 464 miles, thanks to its cylinder-deactivation at light load.
Then, there's the fact that you can tell the driver aids "leave me alone, I know what I'm doing." Particularly in Snow & Grass mode. The Bentayga has a Torsen differential with a 50:50 torque split, and at speed, that means it always stays predictable. Knowing that, hanging out the whale's tail is a rather entertaining wintertime activity.
Of course the Bentayga's weight is mostly kept in order by the 48-volt active anti-roll bar system, powered by electric motors capable of producing 737 lb-ft of torque. Which brings us to the second argument thrown against the Bentley SUV: It's not much more than a glorified Audi Q7.
There's some truth to that, of course. Being part of the VW Group means shared technology with Audi, Porsche and the rest, so it shouldn't shock anybody that the Benteyga features the same touchscreen and various hardware bits as a common man's Golf. However, there's a reason why an Audi Q7 doesn't take 130 hours to assemble, why you can't order your Golf with a leather interior showing 30 hours worth of cross-stitching. Think of the Bentayga's hand-painted body and those 15 pieces of hand-made veneer inside the cabin, accompanied by the solid wood and hide trimmings on the steering wheel. So, it's no Audi, no matter what buttons you use to control the radio.
One you shut your acoustically-optimized door and blip the V8 with a splash of premium, it soon becomes clear that the new Bentayga is the perfect getaway vehicle. Order one in black and get busy. Bentley's 2019 offering is refined, comfortable, planted, and built like a tank. Baddies shooting at you? Who cares? You can do 180 mph or go off road, with plenty of range and an active suspension system that will easily handle that inevitable flat tire. Plus, talk about having enough mass to push through most compact car-based barricades!
Bentley says they spent $1.1 billion on the Bentayga project before launching the W12 two years ago, with roughly a thousand engineers making sure it would work anywhere, no matter how hot, cold, humid or dusty the surroundings may be. Now, they have a new V8, as well as a 3.0-litre V6-powered hybrid version with an electric range of 31 miles, which is capable of recharging in 2.5 hours.
W12? Cheers, but I believe we'll be just fine with the V8, and the usual amount of precious woods.