Bentley Bentayga V8

With luxury car manufacturers all scrambling to claim their stake of the SUV market, there’s a need for innovation and differentiation to create the perfect package of comfort and off-road capability.

After Porche, which introduced the Cayenne – the first of the modern ultra-luxury SUVs – Bentley was one of the first brands to move into the market with its Bentayga. It has since released various models to cater to its discerning clientele, including the newest edition, the Bentayga V8, which is the lightest and sportiest to date, but still comes with the seemingly endless range of Bentley customisation options.

Lamborghini, on the other hand, has opted to create the world’s first “super SUV” in the Urus, combining supercar acceleration and braking with four-wheel drive and the comfort of a five-door family car.

With luxury car manufacturers all scrambling to claim their stake of the SUV market, there’s a need for innovation and differentiation to create the perfect package of comfort and off-road capability.

Bentley Bentayga V8

Bentley is billing the Bentayga V8 as “everything Bentayga was designed to be”. Offering a 4.0-litre, 8-cylinder twin-turbo petrol engine instead of the 12-cylinder of the larger W12 Bentayga model, the Bentayga V8 delivers 542BHP and 770Nm of torque. By deactivating four of its cylinders under light engine loads, it manages 11.4l/100 km. Impressively, Bentley says the V8 can heave its 2.4-tonne bulk from 0–100km/h in just 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 290km/h. And it does all this while sounding less subdued and pleasantly throatier than its W12 big brother.

Although the response to its aesthetics has been mixed (as was the response to the first iteration of the Porsche Cayenne, it must be said), many have cited the V8 as the best Bentayga of the bunch. Offering all the Bentley opulence you’d expect, particularly in the interior, the V8 also delivers decent off-the-line acceleration from the eight-speed automatic transmission, and standard multi-mode air suspension, allowing you to adjust for different terrains.

A nifty feature is being able to adjust suspension height via a button in the V8’s boot, which makes for easier loading or hitching to tow.

Bentley’s 48-volt "dynamic ride" electric active roll control system is also available as an extra, as with the entire Bentayga range. It limits body-roll using variable torsion resistance. Eight different modes are available – four for on-road motoring and four for off-road.

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The V8 also boasts sportier trim than the rest of the Bentayga family, including twin-quad exhaust pipes, a black and chrome grille, various alloy wheel options, and red brake callipers at the front, although you can also opt for the carbon ceramic brakes. The latter have a diameter of 440mm – the largest ever made by Bentley.

One of the perks of buying a Bentley is the customisation. With seven standard paint colours and five standard hide colours, you can also choose from an extended range that includes 12 duo-tone exterior options and 10 additional hide colours, including the new rich shade of red, Cricket Ball – which Bentley suggests pairing with the matching Cricket Ball paint. Hand cross-stitching can be incorporated in a choice of 15 standard colours and four extreme colours.

You can play around with all these options on the Bentley website, using the Bentley Configurator. The Bentley V8 is priced from R2 950 000.

Lamborghini Urus

The Urus is the first SUV that Lamborghini has built since the LM002 it manufactured in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Not only is it a damn side more attractive than what became known as the “Rambo Lambo”, but it is being marketed as the world’s first “super SUV”.

Weighing in at 2 154kg and costing R3 450 000, the Urus claims to be the fastest SUV in the world. It offers a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine with 650BHP and 850Nm of torque, and accelerates from 0–100km/h in just 3.6 seconds. With a top speed of 305km/h, it’s certainly fast, but its 4WD system with active torque vectoring and four-wheel steering means it handles well off-road too when required.

Stefano Domenicali, Automobili Lamborghini chair and chief executive officer, says that the Urus fits perfectly within the Lamborghini family as a high-performance car. “It is the culmination of intensive development and passionate skill to create a new breed of bull: a super SUV that transcends the boundaries of expectations and opens the door to new possibilities, for both our brand and our customers,” he says. For a low-volume manufacturer, the Urus is a smart move and Lamborghini hopes Urus sales will help it to almost double its annual sales of 3 500 vehicles.

Packed with technology, including carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive air suspension and active roll stabilisation, which firms up the outside suspension in fast corners, the Urus is built not just for rip-roaring fun, but also for maximum safety and comfort. This is a car that is as comfortable to drive for the school run in the morning as it is on a racetrack or a gravel road.

The Urus has up to six different driving modes, plus the EGO mode, where you can select your own parameters manually, which is available via the "Tamburo" driving dynamics selector.

While the Urus may not be as obviously a part of the Lamborghini family as the Huracan or Aventador, the iconic badge on the centre of the steering wheel is an ever-present reminder that this is an SUV with true Lamborghini DNA.