To many (including this tester) it might seem like the niche play of all niches, but the Bentley Bentayga EWB could very easily end up as the sweet spot in the model range and right from the get go – hear me out.
Bentayga buyers are already spoilt for choice with Bentayga V8, Bentayga Hybrid, Bentayga S and Bentagya Speed versions, so you might well ask why the need for an Extended Wheelbase variant, given the standard Bentayga already stretches more than 5.1 metres long.
Here’s the thing. With dwindling sales of the now defunct four-door Bentley Mulsanne (people just want SUVs), Bentayga EWB is now perfectly placed to fill the void in the Bentley line-up as the flagship.
Before the nameplate was officially retired, the Mulsanne’s body extended to a massive 5575mm length, whereas Bentayga EWB adds a mere 180mm to the standard version for a far more manageable 5305mm length. The extra space is all in the rear door for added legroom, they tell us.
Nevertheless, it’s an immense vehicle from whichever angle you view it, intimidating even, except for the fact Bentayga EWB actually has a smaller turning circle than the regular Bentayga V8, thanks to four-wheel steering available for the first time in the Bentayga range.
Design changes are otherwise minimal, but most notable is the new vertical vane grille that replaces the usual mesh look up front. There’s also the latest 22-inch, ten-spoke polished alloy wheels wheel, both new features distinguishing the Extended Wheelbase from the standard version, at least from the outside.
Nevertheless, more than 2500 new parts were required to build the extra-long Bentayga, as well as a nine-digit investment for new tooling and fixtures alone. The development timeline included 2000 weeks of testing across a fleet of 50 pre-series cars in all manner of climates.
It’s a substantial investment, but as a new model line expected to notch up more than half of all Bentayga sales, it will need to stand on its own two feet in the ultra-luxury SUV market, one that’s about to get a touch more crowded with the arrival of Ferrari’s all-new Purosangue and Lamborghini’s mental-as-anything Urus Performante.
Naturally, Bentley caters to a different market than its supercar-building sister brand Lamborghini and the Prancing Horse stable, but demand for high-end SUVs continues to soar.
Climb aboard the new Bentley and rear-seat passengers will quickly discover a whole new world of luxury back there, especially if they’ve chosen the four-seat configuration over the four + 1, or five-seat options.
That’s the set-up you’ll want if you’re out to impress the neighbours or clients alike, with the all-new Airline Seat Specification – the most advanced seat ever fitted to a car, boasting 22 ways of adjustment, along with auto climate sensing and postural adjustment – I’ll explain later.
More comforting still for those craving ultimate interior space, is the fact that the Bentayga EWB cabin is longer than a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Range Rover LWB, and even the Bentley Mulsanne it replaces. What’s more, it’s even got the same rear headroom as the Range Rover LWB, despite the Bentayga’s tapered roofline.
It’s no surprise then the remit for Bentayga’s engineering team was to achieve outstanding comfort by employing the most advanced chassis set-up in Bentayga’s line-up, which is softer than the standard wheelbase but still more than capable on a twisty road, according to Dr. Matthias Rabe – head of research and development.
The regular Bentayga is still stiffer in the chassis, whereas the Extended Wheelbase version is skewed towards comfort, especially for those lucky enough to be kicking back in the Airline Seat Specification.
It comes down to the longer Bentayga’s engineering trifecta of; three-chamber air-suspension, electric active anti-roll bars, and rear-wheel steering, of all of which help keep this 2.5-tonne behemoth bolt upright in the twisties.
The range-topping Bentley Bentayga EWB is priced from $514,500 excluding on-road costs and options.
The Bentayga model range kicks off with Bentayga V8 SWB from $378,600, while the more dynamic Bentayga S starts at $450,200.
The high-performance, W12-powered Bentayga Speed commands a sizeable premium at $514,200 for its additional thrust.
Bentley Bentayga pricing:
- Bentley Bentayga V8: $378,600
- Bentley Bentayga S: $450,200
- Bentley Bentayga Speed: $514,200
- Bentley Bentayga EWB: $514,500
Prices exclude on-road costs
Given more than 50 per cent of Bentayga customer orders for Bentayga EWB include either the Bentley Airline Seat Specification or Bentley Diamond Illumination, it’s fitting that our Damson-coloured First Edition tester was fitted with the world’s most advanced seat technology.
We’d suggest the power-close doors are essential in making access to your Airline Seat a whole lot easier when opening what are simply huge rear doors, which look to be at least 20-30 per cent longer than those up front. Oh, and you can’t hear the motors that power these doors either – every mechanical movement is whisper quiet.
Buyers will likely wax lyrical with any number of interior combinations on offer with the extra-long Bentayga, but our test car included Metal Overlay in Veneer – for the first time on Bentayga series production – though it has been used previously in the ultra-special Continental GT Mulliner versions.
The finish itself is applied to the passenger’s fascia and all four doors for a semi-sporting look (if not a bespoke engineering vibe), which marries into the swathes of Damson leather on the dashboard, doors and other trim bits.
It’s a tasteful combination, especially when paired with Porpoise leather and the metallic finish itself, which is in fact described as, ‘dark tint diamond brushed aluminium’.
The new-style diamond quilting is exquisite and its everywhere. Within each diamond, the leather is perforated with holes of less than 1mm in diameter.
The attention to detail is simply extraordinary. Take the perforating machine; it incorporates a camera which analyses the perforation pattern and guarantees the lines of embroidery are precisely parallel and equidistant between the perforated diamonds.
It gets better. To achieve a finer quilted panel, a finer thread is used (the same used in Bentley’s embroidered logos) and a micro-stitch (half the size of the standard Bentley stitch). The end result is a level of comfort in a seat that most folks will likely never experience in their entire lifetime. Bentley calls it “softly lofted quilting”.
In order to compensate rear passengers (specifically), the panoramic sunroof has been repositioned further aft (back by 125mm), especially important for those kicking back in the Airline Seat who want to catch a few more rays on the way to the holiday home on the French Riviera.
It’s the most advanced seat ever fitted to a car, we’re told, with no fewer than 22 adjustable positions available, and room for all heights and weights, from the 95th percentile male to the 5th percentile female able to find their ideal seating position.
It’s all controlled via a touch screen remote that pops out from its cradle at the back of the centre console/armrest module. It’s dead easy to work too, whether you want to work upright in Business mode, or sleep quietly in Relax mode.
Apparently, when we slump, our bodies can take up to 30 per cent less oxygen, which reduces out ability to think, while placing more stress on our bodies. Not an issue with the Airline Seat given it gets world-first technology including Seat Auto Climate and Postural Adjustment.
With Seat Auto Climate you just select the desired temperature from six different levels, while the contact temperature and surface humidity is measured – separately for cushion and backrest – prompting heating and ventilation adjustments to be made to maintain the perfect balance and temperature for reduced fatigue and irritability, Bentley says.
Bentley’s new Postural adjust feature uses air cushions below the seat surface to make minute adjustments to the seat shape itself for up to three-hour stints. The process is said to stimulate blood flow and muscles, again reducing stiffness and fatigue on longer journeys.
To compliment such unbridled luxury are heated rear door and centre armrests for the first time – pretty sure they’re an option, however.
There’s also oodles of storage compartments littered throughout the cabin, as well as up to six USB-C ports. That said, buyers can also choose the Mulliner Console Bottle Cooler, which houses a fully integrated drinks cooler able to swallow a 750ml bottle and two hand-crafted Cumbria Crystal Flutes for those weekend getaways.
Boot space depends on which seating configuration is chosen. For our four-seat tester, there’s 392 litres behind the rear seats, while the five-seat Bentayga EWB benefits from a larger 484 litres of cargo space.
For the Bentayga EWB, there’s no additional power over the regular Bentayga V8, which makes 404kW of power at 6000rpm and 770Nm of torque from 1960rpm-4500rpm.
Bentley as a brand has clearly prioritised comfort, refinement and efficiency over outright straight-line performance, given the Lamborghini makes a stratospheric 478kW and 850Nm from the same basic motor.
Even the Audi RSQ8 produces 441kW and 800Nm from the same engine, while the Porsche Cayenne Turbo develops identical outputs to Bentayga S.
The Bentley also misses out on Audi’s 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, but gets a cylinder deactivation system that can shut down half the engine’s cylinders for improved fuel economy.
Drive is sent to all-four wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with active all-wheel drive, mated to a Torsen centre differential and an open rear diff with electronic lock.
Bentley claims Bentayga EWB will launch from standstill to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds (down 0.1 sec on Bentayga SWB), with a top speed of 290km/h regardless of four, four+1 or five-seat configurations.
The Bentayga is equipped with an 85-litre fuel tank amid a claimed range of 654km per tank, with CO2 emissions rated at 294 g/km.
I’d like to say it wafts along as any Bentley should do in Comfort mode and for sure there was plenty of that going on while dosing off in the Airline Seat, which is precisely from where I began the drive programme.
There’s also another side to the Bentayga EWB – one that employs sophisticated chassis-enhancing electronics to handle its fair share of corner carving and high-speed touring.
The Bentayga EWB’s three-chamber air suspension takes care of the ride compliance no matter what the conditions might be, with noticeable levels of stiffness between Comfort and Sport settings.
While it might tip the scales at more than 2.5 tonnes, this high-riding luxury Bentley is also incredibly sure-footed in the bendy sections.
That’s the work of car’s electrically-powered anti-roll system that virtually eliminates any discernible left or right body roll when blasting through the mountain passes at speed.
But it does so without compromising ride comfort thanks to the air suspension – though we found that to be a bit of a mixed bag as we also experienced in the Bentayga S.
Mostly, it offers a supple ride even over course-chip surfaces and broken roads, but every now and again a bump or two will hit you in the cabin as though the damper rebound was too quick.
Somehow it feels wrong to punish the long-bodied Bentayga in the tighter sections here in Whistler, Canada, but the car has excellent body control with a good state of stability most of the time. Only when the bends tighten do you feel the size and weight working against your intended direction, but it’s pretty well disguised.
Another bow to Bentayga’s handling and ride prowess is the introduction of four-wheel steering – not only to reduce the Bentayga EWB’s turning circle, but to improve high-speed stability given its longer wheelbase. It’s more agile in the bends given all four wheels are turning in the same direction.
The driver doesn’t have to work that hard despite the extended Bentayga’s heft and close-quarters; parking in the city becomes a breeze with the rear wheels turning in the opposite direction to those up front, giving the long-wheelbase version a smaller turning circle than its short-wheelbase sibling.
If you going to use your Bentayga EWB in the city – and the stats suggest more than 74 per cent do – then I’d go so far as to say this technology is life changing, at least for those buyers not yet used to a large SUV.
It’s fast, too. Even though the Bentayga EWB is longer and heavier, albeit by less than 100kg, it only loses 0.1s to the standard Bentayga V8 in the benchmark 0-100km/h dash with a time of 4.6 seconds.
Put the boot in and all 770Nm of torque comes on song from just 2000rpm, giving the longer Bentayga a relatively flat torque curve.
To be honest, you rarely ever need to be aggressive with the throttle, just a gentle dab is all that’s required move this behemoth at a pleasant pace.
There’s good weight to the steering too, the ratio of which is speed dependant, so it lightens up at low speeds to compliment the all-wheel steering, and the brakes are stupendous, as they need to be when stopping this monster from speed.
Bentayga EWB highlights:
- Matrix LED headlights
- LED Signature daytime running lights
- LED tail lights
- 22-inch 10-spoke polished alloy wheels
- 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment unit incl. gesture control
- Satellite navigation with 3D building display
- DAB radio
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 4G phone module, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot
- Touchscreen remote for rear cabin control
- 12-speaker, 12-channel Signature audio, 580W output
- Bentley Comfort front seat specification
- 20-way electric adjustment
- Heating and cooling
- Massage function
- Comfort headrests
- Waterfall Illumination for rear cabin
- Ambient lighting
- Dual air ionisers for rear cabin
Buyers can choose between the Azure (4+1 with Blackline), or the First Edition with 4-seat and Bright Chrome elements.
- Naim for Bentley Premium sound system
- 1720 W, 20 speakers, 20 channels
- Rear entertainment system
- 10.1-inch rear displays
- Wireless media streaming
- Bentley Diamond Illumination
- 12 LEDs on the front doors
- 22 on the rear doors that emit light through 1mm perforations
- Power closing doors
First Edition Specification adds:
- First Edition badging on C-pillar, veneered fascia
- First Edition embroidery on the seats
- First Edition contrast stitching
- LED welcome lights
- Bentley Diamond Illumination
- Naim for Bentley sound system
- Metal overlays to Veneer
Airline Seat Specification:
- Auto rear climate
- Postural adjustment
- Electrically deployable footrest
- Veneered picnic tables
Touring Specification adds:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Bentley Safeguard Plus
- Head-up display
- Lane assist
- Night Vision
- Traffic assist
All Terrain Specification adds:
- Drive dynamic control
- Luggage management
- Underfloor management
Four Seat Comfort Specification adds:
- Front seat comfort specification
- Comfort headrests to rear seats
- Rear centre console with twin armrests
As for personalisation there are 56 extended exterior paint colours as well as bespoke paints on request, beyond the standard colour palette.
Included in the eight available veneer options are three open-pore veneers, while leather options include five standard and 10 extended leathers.
The Bentley Bentayga hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but its platform mates – the Audi Q7/Q8, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg – have all been awarded five-star safety ratings by one or both organisations (the Porsche only carries a Euro NCAP rating).
Nevertheless, the Bentayga includes Bentley’s City Specification as standard.
- City Safeguard (low-speed AEB)
- Pedestrian, Cyclist monitoring
- Blind-spot assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Park assist (semi-autonomous parking aid)
- Traffic sign recognition
- 360-degree cameras
While we don’t have final specification for Australia, our Bentayga EWB tester also came with the Touring Specification, which adds:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Bentley Safeguard Plus (high-speed AEB)
- Head-up display
- Lane assist
- Night vision cameras
- Traffic assist (stop/go function)
The Bentayga EWB also comes fitted with dual front, curtain, and side airbags for both rows of seating.
Like the wider Bentley range, the Bentayga is covered by the marque’s three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the same period.
As for servicing, Bentley offers three-and-five-year service plans in Australia, priced at $3950 and $7695 respectively for the Bentayga EWB, thereby matching the Bentayga S.
The Bentayga EWB can run on 95 RON as well as E10 fuel, but has not yet listed fuel economy claims based on the WLTP test cycle.
More often than not, long-wheelbase versions of luxury cars can look a bit odd, out of proportion even, but the not the Bentayga EWB.
It’s likely the vehicle that the Bentayga should have been from the outset, given Bentley’s ultra-luxury standing in the market, but it took the demise of the Mulsanne to make it come to life.
This is a beautifully proportioned SUV that offers unrivalled rear-seat comfort with its Airline Seat, but if you have the means I could think of no better way to make the return trip from a weekend away.
To think this extended-wheelbase Bentayga is still properly quick, able to be thoroughly hustled in the bends, as well as being dead easy to manage in the city. All that should make it the new favourite Bentayga when first cars land in Australia from April 2023.
Click the images for the full gallery