Crewe, Cheshire - WO Bentley believed in muscular engines; most of his creations had a cubic capacity greater than one litre per cylinder. So he would doubtless have approved of this latest - and sportiest - version of the Bentley Bentayga SUV.

For the first time, the Bentayga is now available with a new-generation twin turbo, four-litre, 32-valve V8 which it shares with the Porsche Cayenne, its twin-scroll turbos fashionably nestled one behind the other in the V of the block, driving via an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox and permanent all-wheel drive with 40:60 front to rear torque split

Bentley quotes 404kW at 6000 revs and 770Nm from 1960-4500rpm, launching it off the line to 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 290km/h. And please remember this is not a sports-car; it’s a 2.4-ton luxury all-wheel beetle-crusher - but one with an authentic V8 soundtrack from four tailpipes. Respect.

Yet Bentley also cites fuel consumption of 11.4 litres per 100km on the nominal NEDC protocol, thanks to de-activation of four of its eight cylinders in suitable conditions (the seamless change happens in just 20 milliseconds, so you won’t even feel it) and a ‘near-to-stop’ idle-stop program.

Also new for the Bentayga V8 are optional carbon-ceramic disc brakes - at 440mm front and 370mm rear they’re the biggest and most powerful yet on a Bentley (and says the maker, the biggest on any production car). Clamped by enormous 10-piston callipers (which are also available in red with the Bentley logo in polished relief) they provide a scary 6000Nm of braking torque.

Special trim

The Bentayga V8 is distinguished on the outside by a special black and chrome grille, and on the inside by wood-and-hide steering wheel, as well as, for the first time in a Bentley, high-gloss carbon-fibre trim, usually found in top-of-the-range motorcycle crash helmets.

Distinctive special cross-stitched upholstery is offered, as well as a new rich red leather called, appropriately, Cricket Ball.

Dynamic ride

Multi-mode air suspension is standard, offering Low, Normal, High 1 and High 2 modes - the latter manually selectable for serious rock-hopping. You can also lower the rear suspension using a switch in the boot, to make loading and trailer hitching easier.

All the special features of the existing Bentayga range are also available on the V8, including Bentley’s exclusive 48-volt ‘dynamic ride’ electric active roll control system, using variable torsion resistance to limit body roll and multimode traction control with hill descent control, variable-ratio electric power steering, and drive dynamics mode with optional all-terrain specification, offering up to eight drive modes - four on and four off-road).

IOL Motoring