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Bentley’s behemoth Bentayga breaks Pikes Peak SUV record

Shortly after sibling brand Volkswagen smashed the overall record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Bentley set a new record for production SUVs with its Bentayga. The big Bentley climbed the 12.4-mile course to the summit of Colorado’s Pikes Peak in 10:49.9, taking about two minutes off the previous record, set in 2013 by Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

Pikes Peak is one of the oldest races in the world, and one of the most challenging. The course includes 156 turns and rises nearly 5,000 feet in elevation. Drivers risk plummeting off cliffs, and internal-combustion vehicles like the Bentayga can lose power in the thin air. Driver Rhys Millen averaged 66.5 mph on what, during the rest of the year, is a public road with a speed limit of 30 mph. And he did it in a mostly stock luxury SUV.

While Bentley did strip out more than 600 pounds of interior trim to make way for a roll cage and other mandated safety equipment, and fitted different tires and a louder Akrapovic exhaust system, the Pikes Peak racer was mechanically stock. No modifications were made to the 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine, which produces 600 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque. Bentley also retained the stock active anti-roll system, which uses electric power to adjust the anti-roll bars on the fly in order to counteract body roll.

Driver Rhys Millen won Pikes Peak in 2012 and 2015, but this year he teamed up with Bentley to focus specifically on the production SUV record. The open nature of Pikes Peak’s rules makes for an astounding variety of cars. This year saw everything from an Acura NSX to a heavily modified Ford Focus. But the fastest car at Pikes Peak was the all-electric Volkswagen I.D. R, a purpose-built race car that climbed the mountain in 7:57.1, making it the first car to reach the summit in under eight minutes.

To commemorate its achievement, Bentley will build a Pikes Peak special edition of the Bentayga. It can be ordered with the same Radium (green) exterior paint as the racer, or in Beluga (black), with the same 22-inch two-tone wheels as the race Bentayga. The interior is trimmed in Beluga leather with Key Lime accents and a smattering of Alcantara. Just 10 Pikes Peak Bentaygas will be built at an unspecified price. Order books open in August.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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