Bentley decided it would be a good idea to take over the crown as the maker of the fastest SUV in the world in the year of its centenary

Bentley’s first SUV just became more powerful and faster although you won’t notice it that quickly when you look at the exterior of the new Bentayga Speed. Underneath the pretty bronze exterior, there’s a 626 horsepower 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, W-12 behemoth that helps the not-so-pretty beast reach 190 mph and a bit. That bit is one 1 km/h more than the Urus and this allows Bentley to take home all the bragging rights for now.

We are well accustomed to automakers goosing it out over who makes the fastest supercar but we’re now seeing this trend awkwardly trickle down to big SUVs. Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo was, arguably, the first modern SUV that packed a decent punch but many have followed in its wake with Lamborghini dropping the first Super-SUV ever (as they call it) with the Urus. Let’s see if Lamborghini responds with a peppered-up Urus or not, considering both companies are under the VAG umbrella.

Bronze is the exterior trim of Bentley’s centenary models

Bentley Launches The 2019 Bentayga Speed At Geneva and It's Faster Than The Urus
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The 2019 Bentley Bentayaga Speed aims for a rare sweet spot: to offer appropriate levels of luxury, performance, refinement, and exclusivity for a model sporting the Flying B.

You see, when Bentley launches a faster version of one of its models it doesn’t come out of nowhere. Each sporty Bentley is a nod to the company’s long and successful tenure in the world of motorsports and this is far more noticeable than some Bentley owners may think. In fact, the British automaker has named some of its key products after sections of the Circuit de la Sarthe, the home of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race that was won by a Bentley six times throughout the years.

The Bentayga isn’t one of them but, as a performance-oriented mid-size luxury SUV, it’s well-deserving of an even faster version. What’s nice, in my view, is that the ’Speed ’ treatment isn’t immediately noticeable by a passersby. Yes, you do get a lip added to the front bumper as well as side skirts, an extension to the rear bumpers that neatly wraps around the twin exhaust tips, and a tailgate spoiler that continues the roofline but there’s nothing particularly dramatic in the looks department.

Bentley Launches The 2019 Bentayga Speed At Geneva and It's Faster Than The Urus
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The grilles in the front are as big as before and you don’t get the option to cover anything with exposed carbon fiber. All you can go for is a smoked finish on the headlights, taillights, and the main grille. With this being said, the Bentayga Speed does ride on unique 22-inch, 10-spoke rims offered in three different finishes as well. Behind the rims, you can opt for carbon ceramic brake discs of gargantuan proportions.

Inside the Bentayga, you'll find tons of Alcantara, seats with an adequate amount of side bolstering and the 'Speed' logo on the passenger's side of the dashboard.

The model still has eight driving modes, four for asphalt driving and four for off-road driving. However, the ’Sport’ mode has been tweaked and it now makes the gearshifts quicker, the suspension stiffer, and the engine respond better. The Bentayga is equipped with an electric Dynamic Ride system that alters suspension settings depending on the mode you choose.

2018 Bentley Bentayga Speed Interior
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The exhaust system underwent some changes too and it now sounds better as well as helping to “further enhance the driver experience,” as per Bentley’s statement. What’s clear is that the Bentayga Speed puts out 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque from a modified version of the flagship 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, W-12 engine. The engine can be had on a standard Bentayga too but in a lower state of tune. In other words, the Speed boasts 26 horsepower over the standard model with the same engine although the peak torque rating stays the same and is available between 1,350 rpm and 4,000 rpm. Max power comes between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm.

In Speed guise, the Bentayga goes from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, as fast as a Lamborghini Gallardo Performante Spyder and 0.2 seconds faster than a normal W-12-powered Bentayga.

But Bentley’s big ground-hogger underpinned by the MLB platform is still three tenths off the 0-62 mph time of the Urus. Also, the Urus puts out 641 horsepower from its V-8 mill and is 480 pounds lighter (4,900 pounds versus 5,380 pounds). But the Bentley is, apparently, faster. In mph, both are said to reach 190 but, in km/h, the Speed is faster by one (1) km/h. That’s it. That’s all it takes for Bentley to say that it’s now the manufacturer behind the world’s fastest SUV.

2018 Bentley Bentayga Speed Drivetrain
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It’s a title that will, probably, soon pass to a different model and, anyway, the Bentayga Speed falls short of our expectations. We hoped for at least 650 ponies only to be disappointed when Autocar said the crossover will only make as much power as the Urus. Sadly, even that isn’t the case. Still, 190 mph is 3 mph more than the Bentayga in standard trim can do. Does that matter? In the real world, no but for a little bit of PR, surely.

Then again, neither the Urus nor the Bentayga are all that powerful when you think about it. Jeep’s Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is capable of 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque from the Hellcat’s supercharged, 6.2-liter, Hemi V-8. Let’s hope Jeep decides to install the Redeye’s 797 horsepower unit and puts an end to this discussion because the current Trackhawk can go no faster than 180 mph. But it’s also a lot cheaper at just $85,900 without the $1,850 destination charge. A Urus would cost you $200,000 and that’s already $30,000 less than the MSRP of a non-Speed Bentley Bentayga. Of course, the Jeep isn’t that luxurious but Bentley isn’t talking about luxury here, just sheer performance.

Bentley Launches The 2019 Bentayga Speed At Geneva and It's Faster Than The Urus
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2020 Bentley Bentayga Speed specifications

Engine 6.0-litre W12
Horsepower 626 HP
Torque 664 LB-FT
0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 3.9 seconds
Top Speed 190 mph (306 km/h)

Bentley Bentayga Speed vs. Lamborghini Urus

Further reading

2018 Bentley Bentayga Speed Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Bentley Bentayga Speed.

2017 Bentley Bentayga High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Bentley Bentayga.

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