► We live with a Bentley Bentayga
► Long-term test of the new V8
► What's it like day-in, day-out?
Already ‘my’ V8 Bentley Bentayga has claimed its first victim, Tim Pollard, current keeper of an equally blue (if nothing like as expensive) Audi A8. ‘I really didn’t want to like it,’ he confesses as he slides the Bentayga’s weighty key back across the desk one Monday morning. ‘But when you drive it you just can’t help thinking that, really, it’s pretty fantastic.’
Professing a fondness for a car in month one of a six-month tenure isn’t the done thing, but Mr Pollard’s experience chimed so perfectly with my own (a bold swing from scepticism to open admiration of the W12 Bentayga) – and with that of managing editor Colin Overland (smitten by the Diesel) – that I’m learning to relax a little about liking a 2400kg SUV with a 542bhp V8.
The Bentayga’s remit is laudably simple, if ideologically nonsensical: to be the fastest SUV in the world, and to pair this performance with ‘unparalleled levels of luxury on and off road’. At launch it did this with a single engine choice, the magnificent W12 (referred to simply as the ‘Bentayga by Bentley’), but that car’s since been joined by the Bentayga Diesel and a petrol V8; the latter a version of the VW Group’s twin-turbo 4.0-litre unit.
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While the Diesel is the UK’s best-seller, as much for its ability to run further between fuel fills as for its mildly less punishing running costs, it’s the V8 that has us most intrigued. With a lighter, less overbearing engine in its nose and the promise of a more engaging, wieldy drive, is the V8 Bentayga the SUV a BMW M5 or AMG E63 driver can enjoy?
If it is, they’ll need to find a little more folding first. Our M5 long-term test car weighs in at £103,000 with options. The Bentley’s base price is £136,200. On top of that, this example stacks £77,675 of options for a total of £213,875. And while the Bentley might be monstrously quick (0-62mph in 4.5sec and 180mph flat-out), the Bentayga’s easily out-gunned by some far more affordable machinery; when a car is made in relatively low numbers, and with so much done by hand, it can’t help but be expensive. But to get hung up on the numbers would be a mistake: the V8’s the sporting Bentayga, not a sports car.
So, how do you spend the price of a new Audi SQ7 on options? Well, to kick off you help make the Bentayga handsome by ordering the stunning metallic blue paint (Peacock, £4545, from Crewe’s extended range) to accompany the Black Specification (£19,350; 22-inch five-spokes and a front splitter, rear diffuser, side skirts and a bootlid spoiler in carbonfibre).
Also doing their bit are rear-seat entertainment (£5690), Bentley Dynamic Ride (the must-have active anti-roll bars that help make the Bentayga drive like a big hot hatch, £3925) and the £6680 ‘Naim for Bentley’ audio upgrade. Then there are two bundles, or ‘specifications’ as Bentley prefers to call them: Touring (adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, traffic assist, night vision and a head-up display) and All Terrain (stout underbody protection, all-terrain driving modes, top-down camera and the boot’s natty sliding luggage management system).
Fuel spend aside, the Bentley should make for a memorable and luxurious summer. Next month the Bentayga will get its Grand Tourer on, with a cruise down to Cahors in southern France for a few days away. And the following month I plan to take if off-road, for some gentle wilderness driving on the kind of rock-strewn tracks Land Rover Defenders eat for breakfast but that £213,875 Bentleys might find harder to stomach.
By Ben Miller
Logbook: Bentley Bentayga V8
As tested £213,875
Engine 3996cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 542bhp @ 6000rpm, 568lb ft @ 1960rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance 4.5sec 0-62mph, 180mph, 260g/km CO2
Miles this month 842
Our mpg 20.55
Official mpg 24.8
Fuel this month £295.97
Extra costs None