THINK of Bentley and the first thoughts that spring to mind will probably be luxury motoring.

But this quintessentially English brand – even though it has German owners – is also renowned the world over for producing cars with stupendous performance.

So when Bentley created its first SUV, the Bentayga, it not only made it the most luxurious SUV in the world but also the fastest. Its top speed was 187mph and it raced from 0 to 62mph in a jaw-dropping 4.0 seconds.

Then the Italians poured some decidedly cold water on Bentley’s claims when Lamborghini built the Urus SUV. It recorded a top speed of 189.5mph.

Bentley and Lamborghini both belong to the VW stable and I suspect there would have been some political fisticuffs before the management at Crewe was given the go-ahead to manufacture a 190.1mph version of the Bentayga.

It’s called the Bentayga Speed and it not only nudges the Italians off the top spot as the fastest but also trims the 0 to 62mph sprint time to 3.9 seconds.

Armed with a 6.0-litre W12 engine that develops 626bhp and bespoke revisions to provide a more dynamic drive, it also has styling to match the performance credentials.

It sports dark-tint headlights, body-coloured side skirts and a striking tailgate spoiler, along with a dark-tint radiator and bumper grilles, a unique 22-inch wheel design available in three finishes and Speed signature badging.

As with all Bentaygas, the all-wheel-drive Speed is equipped with electronic differential lock and no fewer than eight drive modes. Listen to the more radical exhaust note or sense the firmer suspension and you begin to appreciate the sportier intent of this extraordinary car.

Handcrafted in Crewe, England, the Bentayga’s cabin is the epitome of modern British design. Bentayga Speed introduces a new colour split interior, specifically designed to highlight unique styling lines. Key to this is the use of Alcantara trim in a Bentayga for the first time.

While Bentayga customers have the option of the Bentley wings embroidered at the top of the seat backrests, on the new Speed models these have been replaced with the stitched word ‘Speed’.

Go-anywhere driving ability and imperious luxury are the hallmarks of the Bentley Bentayga. Powerful, individual and exquisite in equal measure, the Bentayga is for those who demand luxury without compromise.

Big, bold and braving new territory for Bentley, the Bentayga Speed is more than five metres long, two metres wide and weighs in at 2.5 tonnes.

Designed, engineered and handcrafted in Crewe, the Bentayga Speed’s styling remains pure Bentley. Everything you touch, hear and feel is a joy for the senses.

A big boot and useful cabin storage combine to make good on the Bentayga’s promise of space.

The 12 cylinders deliver near-instant, crushing, relentless torque that’s seamlessly delivered to the road via four independently electrically-controlled wheels of up to 22 inches across.

You can’t completely escape the physics of a 2.5 tonnes car, but the Bentayga stays implausibly flat through corners thanks to a 48-volt electrical system that tweaks the suspension while you drive.

And that seductive Bentley whoosh is on hand whenever you need to get somewhere in a hurry.

The audio system is probably the best I have ever heard in a car.

At times it is also so quiet that you might think you have lost the use of your hearing.

Those with the means will buy the Bentayga Speed simply because it’s the best in the luxury class and fastest SUV on earth.

The lowdown:

Bentley Bentayga Speed

Price: from £182,200

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder 6.0-litre W12 producing 626bhp

Transmission: Eight speed automatic with permanent all-wheel drive

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 3.9 seconds; top speed 190mph

Economy: 21.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 296 g/km

Star ratings:

Performance: *****

Economy: **

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***