New 550hp V8 model is delivered with a focus on sharper handling; prices start at £179,600

By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, May 25, 2021 / Loading comments

Bentley has added a new Bentayga S to its SUV line-up with a greater emphasis on dynamic performance, combining the 550hp V8 motor with a chassis that features an ‘enhanced’ sport mode and standard-fit active anti-roll hardware. The model is said to be a response to customer feedback; Bentley claims everything from the chassis settings to ESC mapping has been retuned, unlocking more feedback and playfulness from the £179,600 variant.

With demand for performance SUVs showing no signs of slowing even at this end of the segment, it’s almost a surprise that Bentley took this long to add an S model to its ranks. The more driver-focused model – which arrives after five years and 25,000 sales of Bentayga – gets dampers that are 15 per cent stiffer to go with Bentley’s 48-volt anti-roll technology. The system can counter roll with 959lb ft of resisting torque, which ought to ensure even flatter cornering and greater mechanical grip in the S. With the V8 up front, steering response should be even keener than the heavier W12 Speed, although with 86 fewer horsepower, it’s still no contest in a straight line. 62mph comes in 4.5 seconds, like the regular V8, six tenths slower than the Speed.

Elsewhere the exhaust system is freer flowing and more vocal in the sport mode, while the body wears Blackline exterior details in place of chrome as standard. The wheels are 22-inch rims specific to the S, with no shortage of S badges on the body to signify the car’s rank. Additionally, there’s a larger spoiler, slightly more aggressive bumpers and dark tint headlight lenses. Although to the untrained eye, this is just another well-specced Bentayga, which is no bad thing.

The cabin gets its fair share of unique features, including new seats with an S-specific stitching pattern, Alcantara and leather fabric, as well as S badges galore. Even the digital displays get S-branded menus, and the dashboard fascia receives a new finish unique to this particular variant, so you don’t need to be pressing on to know this is the higher-grade V8 offering.

That said, if you happen to be doing just that on a stretch of autobahn, the Bentayga S will keep on powering to a 180mph top speed, just like the regular V8 model. Only now, Bentley promises even greater stability, as well as improved torque vectoring by brake, so any bends in the road should be delt with more confidently. Despite the chassis’ greater performance focus, Bentley promises unhindered off-road capabilities, and the usual offer of four-, five- and seven-seat versions remains here.

If that sounds hunky dory to you, and you happen to have £180k spare, sales will apparently be kicking off soon. The new S model joining the existing ‘standard’ Bentayga, Hybrid and – if you’re in a market where it’s currently sold – Speed versions, rather than supplementing one, meaning this recently updated range is barely a full EV-variant from satisfying all demands for a posh SUV line-up in 2021. It looks set to remain that way for a few more years, with Bentley not introducing its first EV until 2025. Although by 2026, Bentley will be PHEV or electric only…

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