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Hang on – a Bentayga? We’ve seen that before. Yes you have. But not with the all-new V8 petrol engine that Bentley has now dropped into it. It’s the same 4.0-litre lump that also appears in the Porsche Cayenne and upcoming Lamborghini Urus, and in Bentley’s spec it has 542bhp and 568lb ft. So is this the new entry-level Bentayga? Near as dammit. The V8 diesel might be £400 cheaper, but when you’re talking about forking out £136,200 on a car, £400 is neither here nor there. But where this petrol is important is in the US and China – those key markets don’t take diesel so the petrol is crucial to Bentley sales over there. But presumably if it’s the entry-level one, it doesn’t get all the goodies that the W12 does? Nope – everything you can get on the W12 is also available on the V8, including the clever electric active roll control suspension tech as standard (more on that in a tick), as well as all the myriad options you’d expect of a Bentley. Including a new cross-stitch pattern on the leather, which takes 30 hours to do and comes in at £2,985. It’s lovely and looks great, but it’s probably not a box we’d tick. And for all you badge spotters out there, you can tell it’s a V8 because the bright work is black rather than chrome. To our eyes, that’s a good thing. Less bling, more menace. What’s the engine actually like? Very good. While the W12 is obviously the quickest (and the halo car) and the diesel is the sensible choice, the V8 has a great balance of pace and noise. It completes 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds and peak torque is available from less than 2,000rpm so, if you want, you can just ride the torque wave and waft along. But then to make things more interesting, plant your foot, the twin-scroll turbochargers react nigh on instantly and you’re fired at the horizon as quickly as you’d ever need to be in a high-riding SUV. The crucial thing here is the noise. The lovely V8 burble is more pronounced than the muted engine note in the W12, so it encourages you to be more of a hooligan in the way you drive it. It also feels more alive because it’s freer revving, with a red line at 7,200rpm. Fact fans – that 7,200 rev limit is the highest ever for a Bentley. The Crewe firm points to this sort of stat and says this is the sporty one. And to a certain extent they’re right, if a 2.3-tonne 4x4 can ever be called sporty. So does it handle any differently? Marginally. It does feel slightly lighter at the nose and therefore a bit more agile, but the V8 engine itself is only 25kg lighter than the W12 unit. That’s not really enough of a weight saving to be noticeable, so the extra deftness is probably as much a trick of the mind as it is a reality. What is impressive – and less open to debate – is the way it can do punchy and comfy equally well. Thanks to the clever 48-volt anti-roll bar system (essentially an electric and infinitely variable anti-roll bar), the Bentayga feels both supple and planted. It’s staggering how little body roll there is through a corner, and yet how comfortable it is in a straight line. There’s magic at work here. Sounds like you’d recommend it? Yup. It’s pretty fine margins between this, the W12 or the V8 diesel, but if it were our lottery win, we’d get the V8 petrol. The engine note clinches it. 8/10
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