Hugh Haskell-Thomas spends some time with this VIP of the road.
The launch of the Bentley Bentayga W-12 in late 2015, heralded the arrival of the Super Luxury SUV genre into the world’s auto markets. Other luxury marques rapidly followed suit, Maserati, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce to name a few, which will soon to be joined by Aston Martin, Ferrari and others. However, what appeared to be a very large gamble appears to have paid off with over 12,000 of the cars passed to customers over the past 3 years and, due to its maturity, Bentley have been able to offer derivatives of the initial model with diesel, plug-in hybrid and most recently V8 variants, the latter being the subject of our review.The initial differentiating points to mention are the gloss black trim and twin tail pipes on the exterior of the car and significant amounts of carbon-fibre throughout the interior, both combining to underline the ‘sportier’ look and feel of the car. We much preferred this to the chrome of the original and believe that these changes are as much to do with attracting slightly younger customers as they are about differentiation. An optional Black Package removes all of the remaining chrome, which I felt would further improve its looks and its possibly younger target clientele. Regardless of these minor changes from the original, it is still arguably the most luxurious SUV in the world with its unsurpassed levels of leather, metalwork and detailing. Inside and out the VW Group heritage of the car are clear to see, from the chassis (used by the Cayenne, Urus and Q7), through the interior switchgear to the engine, however, none of this detracts from the overall quality and uniqueness of the finished product; it is exceptional.
Let us move on with some comparative numbers. The 2019 V8 features a twin turbocharged 8 cylinder engine producing just over 540BHP, that’s only 10% less than the flagship W12 version and, more importantly with such a heavy car, almost 570lb/ft of torque. All of this combines to push this two and a half ton car from 0-100 kmh in a little over 4 seconds, running on to a top speed of over 290kph! However, the more important number for most is the price difference, with the base model V8 being delivered to your door for almost BHD 30,000 less than the W12 equivalent, a significant saving; enough to buy a Porsche Cayman for your other half! So, what are the real differences between this sibling and the original and is there this amount of difference in daily use? We set off across Bahrain to find out….
As usual with all Bentleys, the torque delivery allows all of their cars to hustle along their huge bulk with not much more than a purr from the engine, on the V8 maximum torque is delivered at less than 2000 rpm! Notwithstanding the refined level of noise at normal cruising speeds, when the revs start to climb the difference between this and the original can more easily be identified with a definitely more characterful exhaust note than the larger engine in its predecessor. Although the car has four cylinders less, the fuel consumption is only around 15% better, though this does increase its range by over 100km from the 85 litre fuel tank. However, when the car is pressed forward, I was sure that I could see the fuel gauge move, this is not an economical car by any measure, but most who own one will not care for the prestige and comfort delivered by the car to balance this exorbitance!
The new 10-pot ceramic brakes, clamping down on probably the largest discs of any car on the road, combined with the very responsive steering, help to deliver confidence when pushing the car along at high speed and twisty roads. Most definitely the entire package belies the weight of the car and also assists in putting a smile on your face every time the revs climb over 3,000, as well as leaving more traditional sports cars and other SUVs in its wake. As usual in modern cars at this level, there is of course adaptive cruise control and lane assistance, both of which worked predictably and immediately provided me with the confidence to use them. There is also a collision avoidance system, which thankfully for this driver remained untested, but am sure that it will equally work as promised. It is worth pointing out that the ceramic brakes mentioned earlier are an optional extra, though one that we strongly believe needs to be the first box checked when specifying your car… 2.5 tons, 180mph… you can understand I am sure!
For driver and passengers, the level of technology in the car further underlines the attention to detail that exists in the mechanical systems of the car. An eight-inch touch screen in the centre of the dash provides access to the infotainment system. It is straight-forward and easy to use with menus that are clearly labelled and self-explanatory. Apple CarPlay compatibility comes as standard, but the system isn’t compatible with Android Auto and most likely won’t be anytime soon; we found something to complain about at last!
For rear seat passengers, there are huge 10.2 inch screens, which also add internet connectivity via the car’s in-built Wi-Fi network. As well as general access to media, passengers can also check the outside temperature, change the climate control settings, turn on the seat’s heating, cooling, or massaging functions, from the clever remote control which can be removed from the rear console.
In summary, there is really very little difference between the V8 and the W-12, apart from the bragging rights! After almost a day behind the wheel of this new variant, it is the one that I would take out of the showroom, regardless of the price difference. Pop along to the showroom and see if you agree!
For more information, please contact Bentley Bahrain on +973 1723 8822