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BENTLEY: 2021 Bentayga Speed front angle

BENTLEY: 2021 Bentayga Speed – the fastest SUV in the world

Building on a tradition of ‘Speed’ models commencing with the Continental GT in 2007, the Bentley Bentayga Speed gets a cosmetic makeover inside and out, but the W12 engine's thunderous performance remains unchanged.

As before, the Bentayga Speed with its mighty bi-turbo W12 engine remains the ultimate Bentayga for markets like the U.S., Middle East, and Asia Pacific region. However, the only Bentley to offer the W12 engine is now the Speed, which is unlikely to join the UK range in the near future (but, never say never).

Prices in those regions are expected to start from around US$245,000 when it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2021.

What is significant about the latest ultra-quick Bentley to carry the Speed nameplate is the 1,000-odd changes and cleaned-up styling that have been applied to all models, including the V8-powered Bentayga we get here in the UK.

As before, the W12 lump under the Speed bonnet delivers 617 bhp and 900 Nm of torque from just 1,500 rpm. Performance is also unchanged, with a top end of 190 mph and 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. 

As Bentley’s CEO Adrian Hallmark says, “It’s important that we still recognize the customer desire for absolute performance. The new Bentayga Speed remains the fastest SUV in the world, but more than that, it’s also the most luxurious version of the new Bentayga.”

As with the recently updated Flying Spur and Continental GT, the 2021 Bentayga adopts a revised interior. There's a 10.9-inch touchscreen mounted under a showy central air vent and clock arrangement with a winged design reminiscent of the company's winged B logo. A new configurable digital dash is joined by a revised steering wheel and redesigned seats.

What sets the Speed apart is in the details. If you want Alcantara, the Speed offers it, placing the synthetic suede material on the seat cushions, in the centre of the seat backrest, on the steering wheel, and in other discreet places throughout the cabin. Optionally, all this Alcantara can be replaced with leather. The ‘Speed’ script is embroidered as standard in the backrest, but can be replaced with the winged Bentley logo at no cost.

The Mulliner Driving Specification appearance package is standard, including a special contrasting stitching through the diamond quilting—Bentley says one thread matches the leather, and the other contrasts, for a special look. ‘Speed’ badges adorn several exterior places, too.

Buyers can also select a ‘Black’ Speed specification. This exchanges the chrome exterior pieces with either black or carbon fibre trim; the wheels are also painted black and the large rear wing is replaced with a carbon fibre unit.

The refreshed design of the regular V8 Bentayga suits the Speed version well. Dark-tint headlights, body-coloured side skirts, unique front and rear bumpers and a striking, elongated tailgate spoiler are ways to spot the Speed model, along with the W12’s signature of ovoid exhaust finishers.

It promises to be a little more efficient than before, with new cylinder deactivation system that can allow the engine to run on just one bank of six. The Speed can also freewheel when you lift off at cruising speeds, for so-called ‘sailing’.

The 48-volt active anti-roll system – part of the Bentley Dynamic Ride setup – keeps the Speed level and comfortable, while the components of the ‘Sport’ drive mode have been beefed up for a more engaging drive.

For a flagship Bentayga model, there’s unlikely to be much on the options list, apart of course from the multitude of delights from the Mulliner bespoke department. As with the UK’s regular V8 model, there’s plenty of hand-crafted luxury in the finishes and materials inside the cabin.

However, what you won’t get with the UK’s V8 are those ‘Speed’ logos embroidered into the seat backrests – handy in case anyone thinks you’ve bought the slow one.

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By Wayne Gorrett

Wayne has been covering developments in the UK's automotive sector for over 10 years, providing news, reviews, first-drive impressions and opinion pieces for a number of print and web outlets in the UK and South Africa. A former marketing director, Wayne is based in a rural village near Winchester, Hampshire. You can follow him on Twitter: @WaynesWorldAuto Facebook: WaynesWorldAuto Instagram: WaynesWorldAuto