Since its launch in 2015, Bentley’s super-luxury SUV has offered its customers with uncompromising interior, paint and trim options. But it has always been limited to a single engine choice: a torquey 6.0-Liter W12, which in its own right is a proper pick for a premium luxury SUV with a price tag of BD120,000, but it was also heavy, thirsty and let’s be honest - expensive. Now things have changed with a new variant called the Bentayga V8. Just as the name suggests, it’s powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 co-developed with Porsche. It’s good for 542hp and 568 lb-ft of torque compared to its W12 flagship model which has 600hp with 664 lb-ft of torque. Yes, the power drops slightly but most customers won’t notice that since the V8 Bentayga is also lighter, not only in overall weight but also on your wallet with a starting price of just BD80,000.

The Exterior

When it comes down to the looks, the Bentayga may appear identical to its W12 flagship model but there are a few bits that make the V8 variant stand out. You get a complete gloss black trim all around. It’s on the grille, on the fender vents, around the windows, and on the light bezels found on both ends. The V8 also exhales through engine-specific exhaust tips and it’s now offered with high gloss carbon-fiber trim which is a first in the Bentley world.

The Interior

When we test drove the W12 model, we decided that it was the most luxurious SUV on the market and the V8-powered version is no different. Mirror-matched pieces of wood complement the soft rich leather upholstery that hugs the seats, dashboard and door panels. And like all Bentley’s, the materials used are all authentic. TIP…When it comes to Bentley, if it looks like leather, it is. If it looks like metal, it is too. There are plenty of posh 4x4 SUVs in the market but the Bentayga represents the cream of the crop when it comes to good old-fashioned craftsmanship. An eight-inch touchscreen embedded in the center stack displays the infotainment system which has a relatively straightforward, easy to use software with menus that are clearly labeled. Frankly, it’s everything you expect from an infotainment system. The rear-seat entertainment system ensures that the folks in the back, stay connected too with 10.2-inch Android-based tablets that provide internet access via the car’s Wi-Fi connection. But the best part of the rear-seat entertainment is a little smartphone-sized remote that is cleverly integrated into the back of the center console. It pops out at the push of a button for the passengers to check the outside temperature, change the climate control settings, turn on the seat’s heating, cooling and much more.

The Drive

From behind the wheel, the Bentayga’s V8 engine feels a bit higher strung than the effortless W12. Instead of instant torque, there’s a strong punch in power that builds up near-perfectly at 7,000-rpm, which by the way is the highest rev limit of any engine that the brand has ever installed in a passenger vehicle. The V8 makes its presence known, unlike the W12 which we found a bit too quiet. Bentley says the V8 variant will propel all four wheels from zero to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds which is quite impressive, but we didn’t bother verifying that since we were too indulged with the overall driving experience. The delivery of the power is magnificently crisp too because of the eight-speed ZF transmission. There’s no change to the adaptive air suspension set-up of the W12, with its four selectable ride heights and multiple modes from comfort to sport. You would think with a concussion of metal, leather, wood and its oily bits, the Bentayga would handle like a boat but in fact, it’s quite the opposite, the car handles and turns perfectly. It takes the turn with virtually no body roll thanks mainly to the available anti-roll technology fed by a 48-volt electrical system. It essentially uses electricity to prop up the SUV as it tries to lean into a bend. Driving aides like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist work as-advertised. We decided not to try out the collision avoidance system to avoid causing a very expensive mess in a very expensive car - and placing a very embarrassing phone call to Bentley Bahrain.

VERDICT

The W12 Bentayga is without a doubt a compelling machine and delivers a propulsive thump not only mighty by the standards of its class but by those of any class. And the best thing about it, the V8 variant fills the gap of luxury and comfort without hurting your wallet. This V8 won’t knock the breath out of you in the same fashion as the W12, but no matter which powertrain you select, you’ll get exactly what you paid for - a Bentley badge with uncompromising luxury and comfort.

Categories: TEST DRIVE

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