► The new Bentley Bentayga EWB unveiled
► 180mm stretch from the back of the B-pillar
► Becomes Bentley’s most luxurious model
The Mulsanne is dead, long live the extended wheelbase Bentley Bentayga EWB. Described by Bentley as its “quintessential luxury item” (and considered a model in its own right, with unique flooring and pressings), the stretched Bentayga is an ultra-plush creation with truly epic legroom.
It replaces the recently discontinued Mulsanne as the most comfortable, luxurious and limo-like Bentley on sale today. The company sees this car as its fifth model line, alongside the regular-wheelbase Continental GT Coupé, Cabriolet, Flying Spur and Bentayga.
What luxury are we talking about?
A stretch of 180mm over the regular Bentayga – all in the rear door and rear cabin – allows a choice of five-, four- and four-plus-one rear seat options. Fully reclining airplane-style seats are an option, and there are 24 billion trim combinations, including thin metal trim inserts just 0.07mm thick.
(Bentley also points out that there will be 37 trillion ways to configure the EWB, while Range Rover has 1.7 million – there’s top-end one-upmanship for you.)
Why Bentayga to replace Mulsanne, and not a new sedan model?
Bentayga’s adaptation makes perfect business sense: the E-segment (large sedan) market is shrinking and the D-segment of large SUVs continues to grow. In Bentley’s words, it’s about “raising the D-segment ceiling”.
By the end of January 2022, he had sold 28,537 Bentaygas. It is the best-selling Bentley Crewe by some margin.
Bentley is proud of the bandwidth of the Bentayga. It’s a three-tonne family car that can wade through water, handle well on a side road, and not look out of place on a chauffeured trip to the opera. Since its launch in Frankfurt 2015 there have been W12, V8, hybrid, S and rapid Speed versions – now there’s also a limo variant.
Bentley expects ISF to account for 45% of Bentayga’s future sales.
How much does the Bentley Bentayga EWB cost?
Pricing is TBC, but reasonable estimates suggest buyers can expect a comparable increase of around 15% over a regular-wheelbase Bentayga when the EWB launches in late fall 2022. A lavishly outfitted car could top £250,000.
What has changed, apart from the wheelbase?
A lot – enough for Bentley to consider the Bentayga EWB a new vehicle in its own right, rather than a variant of the Bentayga range.
“It’s more than a stretched version of the Bentayga,” says product line manager Chris Cole, who says the company made a nine-figure investment to design, develop and build the EWB.
It has a completely new subfloor and the overall length increase of 180mm is only for the rear door and the rear cabin.
The C-pillar has a unique new pressing, with a remarkably acute angle to its surface.
At the front, the difference is more subtle, with a grille with vertical fins different (according to the Flying Spur) from the SWB Bentayga. The suspension is the same as the SWB, but with modified calibration for the different weight distribution and different rear uprights due to the rear wheel steering system fitted as standard.
This is the first time rear-wheel steering has been featured on a Bentayga, giving the EWB a tighter turning radius than a standard Bentayga V8. Although the steering system’s hardware is closely related to that of the Continental GT Speed and Flying Spur, adapting it to an SUV platform is no simple engineering challenge, Bentley insiders suggest, and they are proud of the adaptation to Bentayga.
What engine powers it? Will there be a W12 ISF?
It uses the 4.0-liter V8 powertrain seen in the regular Bentayga (and many other products such as the Audi S8 and Porsche Panamera, to name two). There will be no W12 version – Bentley reserves this engine for the short-wheelbase Bentayga Speed. Since the EWB’s focus is on “comfort and well-being, not sport”, there will be no EWB Speed variant.
In the Bentayga EWB, the V8 produces 568 lb-ft and 542 hp.
Top speed is around 180 mph. At 4.6 seconds (an estimate – all performance figures TBC for now), it’s just 0.1 seconds slower at 62 than a normal V8.
The weight is the same as a regular Bentayga W12. Curb weight is 2514 kg, which is 107 kg less than a V8 SWB (with Dynamic Ride) and the same weight as a W12 SWB Speed.
Will there be a PHEV version?
It is under study. Given that in 2021 one in five Bentaygas sold were hybrids (exceeding even Bentley’s own expectations), and the technical feasibility is there to do so, a plug-in is very likely to join the EWB lineup in a near future.
Will it be as good as the shorter Bentayga to drive?
Bentley promises it. The rear steering system helps virtually shorten and lengthen the wheelbase for more agility/stability, and Cole says the driving dynamics are similar to a short-wheelbase Bentayga V8. “We want this car to be awesome drive,” he says.
Bentley Dynamic Ride is standard, with electric anti-roll bars capable of 1300Nm of anti-roll torque in 0.3s.
Cole describes it as “a car in which you can arrive at the opera, and also enjoy driving it yourself if you wish”.
How is the cabin?
The rear cabin is the raison d’être of the Bentayga EWB, with Bentley declaring the design brief to be “the ultimate luxury in the rear of the car”. The rear doors are motorized as standard with a “tip to run” function – a simple touch of the fingertip is enough to trigger the doors and the motors finish the job to close them.
A 98and Percentile men can lie down comfortably without difficulty, like on a first class flight depending on the seat options selected, and rest their feet on footrests.
Bentley claims that the EWB can provide “optimum thermal well-being” through central temperature regulation for occupants with “the most advanced seats ever fitted to a car” (in the case of the seat option aircraft-style) and “two rear air ionizers to remove harmful particles from the air”, describing the ISF as “wellness on wheels”.
The rear seats can be adjusted in 22 ways. In addition, a ‘postural adjustment’ system continuously changes the pressure at 177 different points in seven seat pressure zones.
A muscle massage system continuously and subtly pushes and adjusts key pressure points in the seats at all times during a journey – for example, your right shoulder and left thigh are pushed imperceptibly. Bentley claims it dramatically reduces driver fatigue without the occupants necessarily noticing. There is also a sophisticated climate control system in each seat, to regulate the occupants’ core temperature to a precise degree using the seat heating and cooling software.
The sunroof has been pushed back towards the rear passenger compartment, to better illuminate it.
Up front, there’s an updated infotainment system for driver and front passenger (and rear passengers too, with their own controls).
There is a unique color scheme for the rear cabin and Maria Mulder, color and trim manager, describes how Bentley’s familiar quilted diamond pattern has been reimagined, with an elongated asymmetrical pattern, creating the cabin feel that moves away from you to accentuate the extra space. The lighted upholstery includes a “light through” option, with colored light that shines through the perforations in the quilting. Extremely thin metal stampings are available as optional trim overlays, just 0.07mm thick.
Anything else I should know?
Twenty-two-inch 10-spoke polished wheels are new for the EWB; a 21-inch wheel option will also be available.
The trunk is gigantic on the cars in 4+1-seater configuration, a little less on the five-seater due to a different rear bulkhead.
How does it compare with its rivals?
The EWB has a longer cabin than the Rolls-Royce Cullinan (and Bentley Mulsanne). The roof is lower than the Cullinan but it offers more headroom.
The new Range Rover LWB offers four, five or seven seats. The SV version, the most comparable in terms of luxury and customization, is only available with four or five seats. It also offers a big 200mm increase in length over the regular Rangie. Four- and five-seater versions cost over £125,000.
What else is Bentley doing?
2021 was a big year. It launched the Flying Spur Hybrid, Continental GT Speed and Mulliner variants, as well as the Bentayga S.
The 80,000and Conti GT rolled off the line, it had its highest ever year of profitability, with a record 14,000 global sales, a 40% improvement on 2020 heavily impacted by Covid.
The first battery-electric Bentley is due to be produced in Crewe from 2025 and the company is investing more than £1billion in electric vehicle development, including a major recruitment campaign.
He’s also working on greener end-of-life disposal programs for his cars – though he’s keen to point out that 84% of Bentleys ever made are still on the road.
From the fall of this year there will be some longer and bigger ones.