Bentley Bentayga Speed: world’s fastest SUV updated for 2021

Top-rung SUV adopts new styling and tech, but keeps its W12 motor

Bentley has updated the top-rung Speed variant of its Bentayga SUV in line with the facelifted standard car, bringing new styling, a revamped interior and efficiency-boosting powertrain technology.

As before, the Bentayga Speed calls on a 6.0-litre W12 producing 467kW and 900Nm to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.9sec and on to a top speed of 305km/h – making it the world’s fastest SUV. Interestingly retaining the W12 motor means it won’t be sold in Europe, with Bentley choosing instead to send it to “regions where demand for 12-cylinder SUVs remains strong”, including the US, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

Although power output remains unchanged, new cylinder-deactivation technology is claimed to bring “significant economy gains under part-throttle cruising conditions” as well as reducing CO2 emissions. The ECU deactivates six cylinders at a time, where possible, and alternates between the two to avoid them cooling down, which would make them less efficient.

Additionally, the SUV now offers a coasting functionality, which disconnects the engine from the gearbox at cruising speed to minimise fuel consumption.

Four driving modes are available: Comfort, Sport, Custom and Bentley – tuned to the recommendations of Bentley’s engineers. Sport mode has been recalibrated to improve throttle response and gearshifts, which Bentley says gives “a more dynamic and engaging drive”.

Like the standard Bentayga, the Speed adopts Bentley’s new 48V electronic active roll control system, which aims to ensure the car corners flat, with maximum contact between the tyres and the road. It works alongside a recalibrated torque-vectoring system to improve responsiveness and turn-in performance.

A set of optional carbon-ceramic brake discs are the largest Bentley makes, giving 6000Nm of stopping force and capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1000deg C.

Styling has been tweaked in line with the fresh-faced V8 Bentayga, which is now more obviously related to the Flying Spur and Continental GT courtesy of elliptical light designs, a large ‘matrix’ grille and clamshell bonnet. The Speed is marked out by tinted headlights, dark trim details, a bespoke bodykit, 22-inch wheels and a larger spoiler than the standard car.

An optional Black Specification styling package replaces all chrome trim elements with chrome or carbonfibre items, including the front splitter, side sills, wheels and rear diffuser.

The cabin is largely identical to that of the standard Bentayga, but features optional Alcantara upholstery, brightly coloured contrasting accents throughout and ‘Speed’ scripts on the seats.

Elsewhere, the Speed adopts the Bentayga’s new 10.9-inch central touchscreen, upgraded infotainment system, smartphone compatibility functionality and a digital instrument display. An inbuilt sim card means drivers and passengers can access an array of online services without connecting a phone.

Felix Page

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