Thursday 26th November 2020
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Driven: Bentley Bentayga Speed. Image by Bentley.

Driven: Bentley Bentayga Speed
Trying out the muscular 635hp Speed in its natural habitat, on the roads, after our first drive on track.

 



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Bentley Bentayga Speed

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: definitely feels sharper in the corners than the W12 version, goes astonishingly fast for something so big

Not so good: is it absolutely worth the extra, over and above the W12 version?

Key Facts

Model tested: Bentley Bentayga Speed
Pricing: Bentayga range from 139,100; Speed from 182,200, car as tested 214,440
Engine: 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 petrol
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door luxury performance-SUV
CO2 emissions: 308g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,135 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 21.6mpg
Top speed: 190mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 635hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 1,350-4,500rpm
Boot space: 430-1,774 litres (latter figure only if specified with five-seat configuration and folding rear backrests; 590 litres otherwise)

Our view:

Having first sampled the mighty Bentley Bentayga Speed on the confines of the spectacular Anglesey coastal circuit, now we've spent a week at the wheel of the ultimate version of this ultra-luxury SUV on the roads; surely a more natural habitat for the Benters, even if it does have 'Speed' in its name.

We reported at that initial test that we thought the Bentayga Speed felt a bit sharper to steer and, having spent 240 miles in it on road, we can confirm that is most definitely the case. It's not exactly as if it can totally shrug off its 2.5-tonne kerb weight and make you think you're in a slightly taller hot hatch with a disgracefully powerful engine, but there's an eagerness to the way the Bentley SUV turns in which is more notable and rewarding than the same characteristic on the W12. The steering is also really pleasingly weighted and direct, and even blessed with quite a bit of feel by modern standards, and it certainly helps that Alcantara-clad wheel is part of the Speed's equipment list - as gripping that to control the mighty leviathan helps to convey the impression you're in something sporty. What we're trying to say here is that, even on nuggety and gnarly British country back roads, the Speed feels less like a mobile country house on the move and more like a properly sporty SUV. Is it quick enough to live up to its badging epithet? With 635hp and 900Nm driving through all four wheels and a whip-crack automatic gearbox, what do you think?

Thankfully, on the flip side of the kinematic coin, it doesn't sacrifice all its impeccable comfort, imperious ride quality and unbeatably refined manners, in order to provide the sharper drive when the roads turn twisty. The 22,000-less-expensive W12 model might still have the edge on floaty comportment, but the Speed is perfectly adept in its Comfort mode at smothering out almost all of the worst road imperfections, so you're happy doing big distances in it. Well, at least, you are if you can stomach an average economy figure of 17.2mpg and a motorway-cruising best of 22.8mpg. Which, presumably, you can with impunity if you're going to spend 214,000-plus on the Speed in the first place.

Yes, our test car's starting price of 182,200 is hardly even on nodding terms with what you'd call 'affordable', but with six bundle packs and the 6,780 Naim for Bentley premium audio system lobbed into the mix, the figure required for this particular Speed would be 214,440. This is less than the 227,000 version we drove on track, but obviously still a huge, heaping pile of cash. Might the money-conscious rich person (sounds contradictory but there are plenty of these types out there) be better off with the Diesel or V8 versions? Or even the avantgarde plug-in Hybrid? Maybe. Although it seems like a moot point.

Plus, there's the undoubted prestige status of having the Speed flagship to think about. And also the way it looks. At the Anglesey launch, there were examples on display with, um, potentially divisive colourway specifications, that perhaps didn't make the best of the Speed's enhanced physique (it has beefed-up lower bodywork at the front, back and sides, and that big spoiler perched atop its boot) nor its two-tone, diamond-stitched interior. But the Bentayga Bentley sent us this time was in dark grey Magnetic paint with a set of black-finish 22-inch alloys in its arches and the 5,330 Blackline Specification (this clothes all its major external detailing in black), while inside was a Saddle and Beluga combination with carbon-fibre inlays. Thus equipped, the Speed looked absolutely terrific: easily the most striking and well-balanced Bentayga we've seen yet, with the big British SUV's truly exquisite interior to seal the deal once you've clambered aboard. Well, exquisite, save for those Audi A3 column stalks, that is.

So we're even more impressed with the Speed, having now spent a week with it on our roads. We'd still say the W12 engine never sounds that exciting, even in its uprated trim as here, so if you want the noise then go for the V8 petrol. But if you want the sharpest-handling, sharpest-suited Bentayga, the Speed is incontrovertibly it. And it remains one of the very finest top-end SUVs you can possibly buy, as well.

Alternatives:

Audi RS Q8: related to the Bentayga, the Audi take on a high-performance, highly desirable SUV uses a V8, rather than the Bentley's W12. RS Q8 is extremely quick and well sorted, but the Speed is more of an event. And double the price, too.

Range Rover Sport SVR: the sportiest model with a Range Rover badge on it is actually the Sport-based SVR, which makes a tremendous noise and handles well, but it's not as prestigious as the Bentayga.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid: another one sharing some of its oily bits with the Bentayga Speed, the Cayenne TSEH actually has an incredible 45hp more power and matching torque from its electrically assisted V8 powertrain. But, by gum, it feels heavy to drive.


Matt Robinson - 5 Nov 2019









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2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.

2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.2019 Bentley Bentayga Speed UK test. Image by Bentley.








 

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