The 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 in the Bentayga Speed is said to propel “the fastest SUV in the world” from 0 to 100 kph in 3.9 sec and a heady top speed of 306 kph. And, thanks to a recent facelift, the most performance-oriented Bentaya’s onboard tech is also much-improved.
Other premium manufacturers, such as Mercedes-AMG and BMW, might be phasing out their 12-cylinder motors, but the revised Bentayga Speed retains its muscular W12, which helped Bentley claim the production-SUV record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2018. In the performance first-class SUV market, you downsize at your peril.
Given the recent launch of the Aston Martin DBX and the expected arrival of the Ferrari Purosangue, Bentley has raised its game.
The Bentayga Speed features many of the recently refreshed range’s high-end features as standard (such as the Mulliner Driving Specification) and is, as ever, hand-built in Crewe. The assembly of the W12, which produces 474 kW and 900 Nm (from 1 500 to 5 000 rpm) takes Bentley’s engine builders approximately 10% of the total hours required to build the entire SUV.
As impressive as the aforementioned claimed performance figures are, the Bentayga Speed is also claimed to have an average fuel consumption of… 14.3 L/100 km, which is admirable for a ballistic 2.5-tonne SUV with the equivalent of a reactor under its bonnet (although that is figure is based on the flattering NEDC combined-cycle test, not the more contemporary WLTP standard).
The Bentley Speed is not all just about brute force, it features cylinder-deactivation and "Sail" technology to improve efficiency.
To optimise fuel efficiency, the W12’s control unit deactivates a complete bank of 6 cylinders as required. According to Bentley, switching between the A and B bank (using information from the inlet and exhaust sensors) minimises cylinder and catalytic convertor cooldown and avoids spikes in exhaust emissions, which aids fuel economy under part-throttle cruising conditions.
In the Bentayga Speed’s 5th to 8th gears (at cruising speeds, for example), when the driver releases the throttle, the Bentley’s management system will open the torque converter, reduce the engine to tick over and simply allow the car to roll or “sail”. When the throttle is reapplied, or the car starts going downhill and detects an increase in speed, the transmission re-engages.
Equipped with Bentley Dynamic Ride – a 48V electric active roll control technology – the Bentaga Speed is refined, but surefooted.
The derivative offers its drivers a choice of 4 Drive Dynamics modes: Comfort, Bentley – the balanced recommendation of the firm’s chassis team in Crewe, Custom and Sport. Uniquely in the Speed, the Sport mode has been recalibrated to enhance response from the W12 and its 8-speed automatic transmission, together with the air suspension system and Bentley Dynamic Ride – the world’s first electric active roll control technology, which utilises a 48V system.
Dynamic Ride instantly counteracts lateral rolling forces when cornering and ensures maximum tyre contact to deliver class-leading cabin stability, ride comfort and handling. Recalibration of the Torque Vectoring by Brake system – whereby the car lightly brakes the inside rear wheel to sharpen the front axle turn-in – has made Bentayga Speed even more responsive to drive.
Dark-tinted exterior details
To distinguish the Bentayga Speed from its more prudently-equipped siblings, the performance-oriented derivative features dark-tint head- and tail-lights, body-coloured side skirts, bespoke bumpers and an elongated tailgate spoiler. Dark-tint radiator and bumper grilles, a unique 22-inch alloy wheels available in 2 finishes (painted and dark tint), Speed signature badging and a pair of oval exhaust finishers (unique to W12 versions) add to the derivative’s sporty appearance.
The Bentayga Speed comes standard with 22-inch alloy wheels, which are exclusive to the performance-oriented derivative.
Inside, the newcomer’s cabin features the unique Speed colour-split combination trim, which is achieved through the use of dark colours enhanced by primary hide accents running throughout the seats and interior trim. Elegantly crafted “swooshes” of contrast leather feature around the doors, along the edges of the seat cushions and backrest bolsters, and on the lower console.
The Speed colour-split also sees applications of Alcantara on the seat cushions and backrest centre panels, transmission lever, steering wheel, lower-knee and upper-pillar trim areas and headliner. Meanwhile, ‘Speed’ embroidery features on the backrest of the seats and, as a no-cost option, customers can choose to replace the ‘Speed’ stitching with that of the Bentley logo.
A digital instrument cluster and enlarged touchscreen infotainment thoroughly modernise the Bentaya's interior.
A new contrast stitching design in the diamond quilting of the Mulliner Driving Specification sees each of the stitch lines being split – one to match the leather, the other the contrast colour. Discreet metal Speed badging on the fascia and -illuminated treadplates complete the look.
As for the Bentayga Speed’s usually traditional user interface of analogue dials set in a wood-finished binnacle, well, the instrument cluster is now fully digital. Suffice to say the display brings a contemporary look to the cockpit and can be customised to the driver’s requirements (viewed in either Classic or Expanded format) and features real-time lighting effects with slick animations.
A pair of organ-stop ventilation knobs are a nod to classic Bentleys of the past; they are in stark contrast with the digital display.
What’s more, a bigger, high-resolution 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system now spans the width of the Bentley’s fascia. Content can be selected either via hard keys beneath the screen, or from the main menu, the layout of which is customisable to a user’s preference. The system now supports wireless Apple CarPlay and -Android Auto, as well as smartphone screen-mirroring.
The navigation system supports free-text, context-specific search entries (including an address or point of interest), offers a 3-dimensional building display on maps, plus avails more info in the driver’s head-up display, such as traffic information, street names and distance to destination.
The dual-tone Bentley Speed interior is shown here in optional 2-door rear seat configuration, replete with Alacantara inserts.
The latest release of My Bentley in-car and remote connected car services (accessible through an app) are now delivered through an embedded SIM, while real-time traffic information and over-the-air map updates will be available to all customers in Bentley connected-car markets.
Finally, for customers who wish to further enhance the look of the Bentayga Speed, Bentley offers the option of the Black Specification pack, which replaces all exterior chrome work, bright detailing and some elements of the body with gloss black or carbon-fibre addenda.
With a claimed top speed of 306-kph, the Bentaya Speed is the "world's fastest SUV". How long will it hold on to that title?
The front bumper splitter and the side sills, for example, are recreated by hand in carbon fibre, while the rear bumper diffuser becomes gloss black. All exterior bright work (including the roof rails) is resplendent in gloss black, as are the 22-inch Bentayga Speed wheels and exhaust finishers. Finally, the standard roof spoiler is replaced with a curved carbon-fibre version.
As the pre-facelift Bentayga Speed was offered in SA, we see no reason why it's successor won't be offered here too. We'll keep you posted on its expected arrival date.