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Engines on test: Bentley Bentayga W12 TSI

The first Bentley SUV packs a 608ps, 900Nm punch via an all-new 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 TSI powerplant. But staggering power levels aside, is it any good? 

 

Based on the Volkswagen MLB platform, the four-door, four-seat Bentley Bentayga SUV is the first and only MLB car to feature the all-new 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 TSI powerplant. While it may be heavily clichéd to enforce the word ‘powerplant’ in the literal sense, once you press the Bentayga’s accelerator, you begin to understand labored soundbites such as that. Any vehicle that measures 5,140mm in length, 2,224mm wide, 1,742mm high and tips the scales at 2,440kg should not be able to dispatch the 0-60mph sprint in four seconds flat.

The second-generation W12 also gains technologies garnered from elsewhere in the VW Group. Bentley states that by implementing a derivative of the Group’s FSI direct-injection technology, alongside its own TMPI multipoint injection, emissions are greatly reduced while efficiency and power are greatly increased. The W12 also gains individual cylinder bank deactivation, meaning the engine can run as a six-cylinder, and stop/start – the latter being surprisingly obvious in its operation. Twin-scroll turbochargers help the Bentayga produce a 900Nm wall of torque that is available from little over idle through to 4,500rpm, while the accompanying peak 608ps is generated from 5,000rpm through to the red-line at 6,000rpm, all of which does go some way to explaining the car’s physics-bending acceleration.

The slow-reacting ZF 8-speed gearbox, however, is a big disappointment and sits at odds with the ultra-refined interior and general ambience of the Bentayga. Left in Auto mode, as any cross-continental cruiser should be, stabbing the accelerator to initiate an overtake results in a momentary pause, before a solitary downshift, a second pause, then another downshift. This then places you right at the bottom of that huge torque curve, meaning the very first overtake is utterly terrifying before becoming a novelty. However, once that wears off it doesn’t feel particularly dignified, and given the broad spread of the torque curve, to shift down through two gears seems rather unnecessary. Add to this immense delivery a numb Bosch drive-by-wire throttle system, and the car’s tendency to launch for the horizon makes for nervous slow-speed maneuvering. That said, they are but minor niggles on a deeply impressive powertrain.

 

7 April 2017

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