Bentley Bentayga S | Drive

Sure, it delivers the sort of numbers usually reserved for a serious sports car, but until now, I’d always considered the Bentley Bentayga’s performance capabilities as something academic.

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New Zealand’s Rhys Millen may have broken the Pikes Peak record in Bentayga back in 2018, but I was content to stick to the Port Hills, setting no speed records in my drive from Lyttleton to Riccarton, via Evans Pass.

That was a year ago, and my first taste of the then-new Bentayga V8. This week, I was given the keys to the Bentayga S, and pointed towards the Bombay Hills, en route to the Hampton Downs race circuit.

The instructions, which I admit, I did double to double-check, were simple: just have fun.


With the Bentayga S, Bentley has combined the 4.0-litre, twin-turbo v8 with firmer springs, active anti-roll bars, and an enhanced sports chassis mode. On start-up, your ears spot another change, a more liberated exhaust. It doesn’t offer any increase on the V8’s 404kW/770Nm, but it sounds faster.


Bentley has given the Bentayga S a similar sort of physics-defying attribute as they did with the Continental GT. In the case of the SUV, its 1.73 metre height and 2415kg weight, feel inconsequential. Of course, the chassis and 285 section Pirellis deserve a decent share of the credit. And while the 0-100 time of 4.4 seconds, and 290km/h top speed are worthy of mention, it is the ability to corner flat, with genuine alacrity that leaves the greatest impression.


With a foot-long roof spoiler, black 22-inch wheels, and zero chrome, the Bentayga S makes zero effort to hide its newfound abilities. inside it is the same, still refined, but not a twig of walnut, and race car spec Alcantara covers nearly as much surface as the handcrafted leather does.

The four, five, or seven-seat configurations, are a reminder that this is an SUV with the ability to carry a load of people, along with a 3.5 tonne two rating and genuine off-road usability. This new track talent only adds to the list.

There is a part of me that wasn’t quite sure about taking the Bentayga S onto a track, it felt like eating fish and chips off grandma’s best China plates… but what a tasty treat. Driving back to Auckland, the chassis back in comfort mode, this could very well be the best version of the Bentayga yet.


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