The Bentley Bentayga has barely had a chance to find its niche in the super-premium market, but the British automaker is already announcing a major update.
Bentley is about to roll out its first diesel engine and stuff it under the hood of the big SUV. It will not only boost Bentayga’s fuel economy but transform it into the world’s fastest diesel SUV, capable of launching from 0 to 100 kmh, or 62 miles an hour, in just 4.8 seconds.
The launch of the triple-turbocharged Bentley Bentayga Diesel could be seen as especially significant considering that parent Volkswagen AG has been backing away from oil-burner technology in the wake of the ongoing legal problems over its rigging of diesel emissions tests. The Bentley diesel is an entirely new package, however, and the brand is not expected to be tainted by the scandal.
The Bentayga was Bentley’s first-ever sport-utility vehicle when it came to market earlier this year. At launch, it was equipped with a 6.0-liter W-12 engine – though Bentley openly spoke of other options to come, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, a V-8 and the new diesel.
Initially developed for the Audi SQ7 TDI, the oil-burner is a 4.0-liter V-8 that makes a solid 429 horsepower and hefty 664 pound-feet of torque. That’s likely to boost the W-12 model’s towing capacity of around 7,700 pounds, though Bentley isn’t yet revealing the final figure.
What the maker is bragging about is performance, the Bentayga Diesel launching to 60 in less than 4.8 seconds, with a rated top speed of 168 mph. That’s all the more impressive considering its relatively traditional SUV design is not exactly the most aerodynamic of shapes. That’s actually faster than the Audi SQ7, by the way, as that TDI model is electronically limited to just 155 mph.
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As for fuel economy, Bentley is quoting a combined rating of 35.8 miles per gallon compared to 21.6 for the Bentayga using the W-12. Those numbers, however, are based on the European test cycle which is far more generous than EPA’s numbers. In the States, the gas-powered SUV is rated at 12 mpg City, 19 Highway, so the Bentayga Diesel should see a proportionate reduction here, as well.
Actually, that might not matter, as current plans don’t call for selling the Bentayga Diesel in the U.S., at least for now, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the British maker eventually rethinks that strategy, especially as American mileage standards get steadily tougher during the coming decade.
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That’s one reason the maker is also readying Bentayga to be its first model to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain. That package is still more than a year away from production, however.
Visually, you’ll have to squint to spot the difference between the Bentayga oil-burner and the W-12 model, the primary revisions including a new exhaust outlet, a black grille and the “V8 Diesel” badges.
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Bentley is trying to plant itself at the center of what is expected to be a fast-growing market for super-premium SUVs. No surprise considering utes have come to dominate virtually every other price segment. Maserati recently launched its first SUV and, over the next several years, we’ll see offerings from a wide range of additional high-line manufacturers including both Lamborghini and Bentley’s most direct archrival, Rolls-Royce.