Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven

Published:03 March 2022

Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

► V8 versions of Bentayga driven
► Revised look as of 2020 with fresher tech
► S adds some extra spice, if not power

Bentley’s Bentayga SUV has sort of come into its own since its initial debut in 2015. It’s always been an impressive bit of kit, but earlier models had its fair share of flaws. Now in its second, much more confident generation, the Bentley SUV is something that commands respect in the luxury SUV segment, much to the chagrin of cars like the Range Rover.

So much so that even Bentley’s getting more confident with the car’s offerings. As well as a plug-in hybrid available here and a W12 Speed that’s available everywhere else but Europe, the V8 now has another flavour: Bentayga S. Think of it as a way for Crewe’s engineers to get a bit of extra play time with the chassis than they had before; the V8’s power remains the same but a few key tweaks aim to make it that little bit sharper against no end of properly sporty posh SUVs on the market.

Read our review of the Bentayga Hybrid here

A refined look

Much like the original Porsche Cayenne, the Bentayga’s styling suffered from adolescent growing-pains, as Crewe tried to stretch elegant features on a monolithic chassis. And in the same way the Stuttgart’s SUV has gradually grown into its face, the Bentayga has too.

Revisions of the front apron and headlamp are subtle and follow the same nip and tuck theme we also saw on the Continental. It’s very much a case of less is more, which isn’t usually how contemporary SUV designs work. The back of the Bentayga gets the same pill-shaped lights as the Continental GT – something we’re less keen on, design-wise. Still – it’s a clear attempt to create a more cohesive look to Crewe’s range. With the Bentayga S, the bodykit is angrier, there are bespoke wheel designs and discreet S badges along the edges of the doors.

bentayga v8 rear end

Inside, the Bentayga has always been feast of chrome, contrast stitching and leather – again, with the S, the only difference is the addition of some S badges in the seat stitching and dashboard – but now it’s backed up with some contemporary tech. The Bentayga now uses an infotainment system similar to what you’d find in the Audi A8, and it makes a huge difference to the general operation of the car over the previous generation. Things are quicker, slicker and generally more intuitive, and it makes the chrome, carbonfibre and leather shine that bit brighter. The car is decked out with futureproof USB-C connections, and there’s also a wireless charger.

bentayga s interior

There are a few issues, though; the Bentayga still riffs off some of the dated switchgear from the previous gen (like indicator and cruise control stalks from an Audi A4, even when the Continental gets bespoke and rather lovely ones in their place), and some menu items are needlessly complicated; changing the fan speed requires a button press followed by a swipe – why?!

Fast then?

Of course it is – there’s 542bhp to play with, after all. And that applies to the V8 or S Bentayga, too, so performance stats remain the same regardless of variant; 4.5sec to 62mph and a 180mph top speed. Torque is plentiful and power is linear despite those two whopping turbos.

In practice, the V8 is fast enough; it burbles in Sport, remains refined and quiet on start-up, and virtually disappears in Comfort – like all other road noise. With the S, that burly V8 is way more tuneful in Sport due to a free-breathing sports exhaust system, making it sound almost as lairy as a Lambo Urus or Aston DBX.

bentayga v8 front tracking

For the most part, the eight-speed automatic is slick and smooth if you leave it alone. But it struggles a lot to respond to swift requests from a standstill, so you’re not all that confident you can take advantage of a skinny gap at a roundabout or junction.

Solid handling

Simply put, the Bentayga translates the Bentley experience to a SUV body. It’s tremendously refined inside, with even the S version’s firmer air suspension just soaking up all the big lumps and bumps with ease. Even Sport mode, usually crashy in any car, strikes an impressive balance.

bentayga s rear cornering

The Bentayga’s high centre-of gravity means it’ll never handle like a GT, but active anti-roll tech (standard on the S model) makes it far easier to chuck around. Called Dynamic Ride, Bentley’s 48v tech keeps the car squat and flat during cornering, minimizing body roll and maximising confidence. But not much difference can be gleaned between the regular V8 and the S model – yes, the Bentayga S feels a few percentaage points sharper, but is that enough – especially given the Bentayga is a big wafty kinda SUV? We don’t really think so.

Bentley Bentayga V8 and S: verdict

Seven years after its debut, the Bentayga has become a proper contender in the luxury SUV universe in V8 and S guise – it’s refined, glamorous, fast and impressively well put together. There’s arguably not much in in between these two variants, though, as the only obvious bits and pieces the S version seems to provide is a more aggressive engine note and body kit to match.

But, generally, the Bentayga is now much more the necessary evil/black sheep of the Bentley family.

Specs

Price when new: £146,700
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3996c twin-turbocharged V, 542bhp @ 6000rpm, 568lb ft @ 1960 - 4500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Performance: 4.4 seconds 0-62mph, 180mph, 21.2mpg combined, 302g/km
Weight / material: 2416kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 5125/2222/1742

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven
  • Bentley Bentayga (2022) review: V8 and S versions driven

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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