Ian Lamming feels the need for speed in the fastest SUV on the planet.
IT’S a bold claim and if you dare call your model Speed then it has to be fast.
The ‘normal’ Bentayga is no slouch – 550PS, 180mph tops, 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds – but its Speed sibling eclipses it in the performance stakes.
So bolt on another 2.0 litres and four cylinders and you now have a 6.0 12 stacked in the shape of a W.
Where the V8 is a delight, the W12 is an unapologetic snarling beast which hurls abuse at the world from the moment you nudge the starter button on the central transmission tunnel.
Roar! Around 635PS of muscle is unleashed on the world along with a Herculean 900Nm of torque. Don’t forget Bentayga is a large SUV yet this powerplant will shred the fabric of time hurling it forward to 60mph in 3.8 seconds and on to 190mph. Staggering.
That makes it just about the quickest SUV in the world – but don’t worry, it’s also got the biggest brakes, carbon ceramics if you opt to go all Le Mans on me.
So Bentley’s claim for the Speed is no empty threat, it’s a promise, an emphatic declaration of intent. But what’s the point I hear you cry; why have Bentley engineers invested time and effort into making such a pure, unadulterated hot-rod? Well, because they can and I applaud them for doing so.
Speed is cooler, lower, angrier than V8. It is menacing, mean and moody, particularly in anthracite, with Blackline spec and 22in dark tinted Speed alloy wheels. Ooh, it’s enough to send shivers down your spine and give small children nightmares – especially if they hear the raucous exhaust.
Inside is a glorious twist on sportscar of yesteryear. What I might call ox-blood, Bentley describes as dual-tone leather and Alcantara in ‘ Cricket Ball’, with porpoise accents, and fascia and centre console in carbon fibre. What a combo; I just wanted to rub my cheek over every surface.
This luscious interior, coupled with the engine’s aural delights, successfully creates an atmosphere of sportscar performance. Despite being a whopper, Bentley has also managed to give the Speed rapid dynamics to match.
It not only flies off the mark, mid-range and top end, with seemingly endless reserves of brute force, but the chassis handles the might with aplomb. Steering is instant, body-control peerless, ride superb. It breeds confidence to a level approaching cocky and only keeps this approach to arrogance in check with superlative road manners. It’s a car you could take to the poshest of garden parties safe in the knowledge that cutlery would be held correctly, chops would be dabbed and no burp would ever escape its lips.
There is no forgetting that Bentayga is a leviathan SUV towering above the masses to sate top-end purses who are hungry for a 4×4. It has off-road pretensions for those daring to tackle the school field or showground and it is tall enough to clear the all-too-common flooded roads caused by human kind’s obsession with melting the poles. The all-wheel-drive does work, you can feel it taking hold of the monstrous torque as both back and front ends try to go lairy under full power. It’s a bit and bridle to control a thoroughbred as it races down the final furlong.
The finest materials and traditional attention to detail of a gentleman’s club snuggle next to a range of in-car technology to enhance the journey for both driver and passengers, with navigation, ventilation and a host of other features accessed through an 8” high-resolution touchscreen.
Driver assistance technology includes, as standard, Exit Warning and a rear view camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay connectivity, allowing passengers to stay connected to the outside world.
Speed is a beast but a beautiful one (on in the inside) that is just lovely to behold. It more than lives up to its moniker and is a bold, confident interpretation of a rapidly developing luxury brand.
Bentley Bentayga Speed
Engine: 6.0 litre twin turbocharged W12
Top speed: 190mph
Combined MPG: 21.6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 335
Price: from £227,000.00 (with options)