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Bentley, you might argue, has built its reputation around its W12 engine. In fact it makes more twelve-cylinder engines than any other automaker. But where it's offered, the V8 might be the smarter buy – and now it's on offer in the Bentayga as well.

The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in Bentley's sport-ute kicks out 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. As you might have guessed, that's less than the 600 hp and 664 lb-ft available in the 6.0-liter W12 with which it launched, but it's more than the V8 in the previous Continental GT's ever offered (even in 582-horse/531-lb-ft S spec).

More to the point, it's the exact same output as the version found in the latest Porsche Panamera Turbo, which tells you a lot about where it comes from (as opposed to the previous Audi-sourced engine).

Regardless of its source, it's enough to send the Bentayga V8 to 60 in 4.4 seconds and to a top speed of 180 miles per hour (as compared to the 4.0 seconds and 187 mph mustered by the twelve-cylinder version).

The hundred-pound weight reduction does its part, but the Bentayga V8 still tips the scales at a portly 5,280 pounds – or about two and a half times the weight of the Lotus Elise built on the other side of the same country. Fortunately Bentley is offering a 48-volt active suspension system, along with carbon-ceramic brakes. They're not only the largest it's ever made, but feature the biggest front brake discs offered on any car in production: 440 mm, with ten-piston calipers up front (and 370 mm discs at the back). At 17 inches, those front discs are bigger than the wheels on most cars! No wonder the Bentayga offers wheels ranging from 20 to 22 inches.

Along with the new engine option, Bentley's offering an array of new interior trims, including deep reddish-brown "cricket-ball" leather, carbon-fiber trim, and a steering wheel appointed in wood and leather. Expect the V8 option to reduce the Bentayga's price of admission, but not by enough to make it “affordable” to most of us, by any stretch of the imagination. It may be an SUV with a smaller engine, taking the marque once again into new territory – but it's still a Bentley, after all.

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