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2021 Bentley Bentayga V8 First Drive | Not messing with success

It’s a similar situation inside. The biggest changes are in the center of the dashboard. The upper air vents are thin and horizontal instead of circles, and they've been relocated with the dash clock to sit mostly on top of the dash instead of nestled into it. Below them is a larger, 10.9-inch infotainment system that spans the whole width of the center stack and looks better integrated than the old version. The back seats can be configured to have nearly 4 inches more legroom, and there’s a larger touchscreen remote and available rear air vents for the bench seat configuration. Beyond that, the interior is mostly the same, which is hardly a complaint. This is a Bentley, after all. Essentially every surface is wrapped in soft leather, adorned with rich wood trim or made of weighty knurled metal. And customers have access to a vast variety of colors and combinations to create a genuinely custom cabin.

There are a few low-ish points. The infotainment system isn’t the most responsive, and it can be a little tricky to find the menu you want. Also, and this is a bit of a car journalist nitpick, you can spot some bits pilfered from the Audi parts bin: the turn signal and washer stalks, the headlight knob, and the underlying menus and layout of the instrument panel. Finally, the seats could use some improvement, as both rows are a bit firm and lacking in support. The front seats’ adjustments help a bit, but Bentley could take some lessons from Volvo. Or, dare I say it, Lincoln? Nitpicks aside, the interior is about the nicest you can find for the money, with only the Rolls-Royce Cullinan being truly comparable. And while pricing for this new Bentayga hasn’t been announced, but is reportedly 5% higher than before. That would put it around $176,000.  The Rolls-Royce starts at nearly twice the price around $330,000.

Mechanically, the 2021 Bentayga is practically unchanged. Under the hood is the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with the same 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. It's the only engine available to start, but plug-in hybrid and W12 engines should be available later. The V8 is coupled to the same eight-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive system. Bentley claims it will hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and we don’t have reason to disagree. The engine has gobs of torque available at any rpm to slingshot the Bentayga past anyone in your way. It’s a smooth and quiet engine, too, with only a bit of burbly V8 noises showing up when flooring it. The transmission is seamless in automatic mode, though manual shifts can be a bit jerky. The transmission works well enough in automatic mode, so just leave it there and enjoy it as is.

The one mechanical change is a rear track widened by three-quarters of an inch. Supposedly it helps with steering effort and makes steering feel more linear. We doubt any Bentayga buyer is really going to notice, but generally the steering does feel good with a medium weight and excellent accuracy. It’s a bit slow, though. Standard is an adaptive suspension with active roll control. The latter feature is impressively effective, and there’s hardly any body lean going through corners, regardless of the drive mode.

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