2022 Bentley Bentayga EWB
This stretched luxury SUV lets rear-seat passengers indulge with extra space and opulence. So, is the Bentley Bentayga EWB the ultimate car to travel in?...
On sale November (est) | Price from £185,000 (est)
Luxury cars do a fantastic job of making any journey feel effortless, but for some, having all the leather, sound-deadening and electric seats in the world simply won’t do if you have to be the one sitting behind the steering wheel. You see, the fundamental task of having to drive and deal with other road users will never be relaxing enough.
This Bentley Bentayga EWB (for Extended Wheelbase) is here for those who’d rather step into the back seat and let someone else waft them to the next destination. The standard Bentayga is already one of our favourite luxury SUVs on sale, but the car maker may be on to something with the EWB, which is predicted to account for 45% of all upcoming Bentayga sales.
But what’s different? Well, the EWB's front and rear axles are 180mm further apart than on a standard wheelbase version. You'll have to look carefully to spot it, though, because all the extra bulk has been carefully massaged into the larger rear doors. Otherwise, the biggest visual giveaway is that the front grille has vertical bars rather than the standard Bentley mesh look.
It’s a design detail taken from the (now discontinued) Bentley Mulsanne saloon, which the Bentayga EWB indirectly replaces as the flagship model in Bentley's range. Other visual cues are limited to the panoramic glass sunroof that has been shifted further back to prioritise rear-seat passengers, and optional 22in polished alloy wheels.
What’s it like to drive?
The Bentayga EWB is available with just one engine option: Bentley’s 542bhp twin-turbo 4.0-litre petrol V8. It’s enough to get this 2.5-tonne vehicle from 0-62mph in 4.6sec (just 0.1sec slower than the standard V8) and on to a top speed of 180mph. It’s a smooth, muscular unit that lets you bumble around town effortlessly, before sprinting up to motorway speeds at a blistering pace.
The plug-in hybrid set-up that’s available on the standard Bentayga – which combines a V6 petrol engine with an electric motor – is expected to be added to the EWB range later. However, the brand’s monstrous W12 is unlikely to make an appearance in the long-wheelbase version.
The EWB still drives much like the standard V8 Bentayga, despite weighing less than 100kg more. So, while it's not the sharpest SUV to drive, the EWB still has tighter body control than the Range Rover with less vertical movement on undulating roads and far less body lean in the corners.
The EWB’s meaty steering isn’t the quickest to respond, but there's a good amount of weight build-up that gives a strong connection to the front wheels, helping the driver place this 2.2 metre wide car easily on the road. Even if you have to drive yourself, the EWB is more involving and reassuring than the Range Rover’s quick, incredibly light set-up. The EWB also comes with a four-wheel steering system that makes low-speed manoeuvres a little bit easier, and its 11.8m turning circle is 0.6m smaller than the standard version.
The ride in the Bentayga EWB is marginally firmer than in the Range Rover, but it’s wonderfully compliant and settles down very quickly. Ultimately, its fantastic blend of high-speed comfort and composure will have you devouring fast sweeping roads with very little effort.
There’s a minor amount of road rumble from the 21in wheels, but the Bentayga EWB remains hushed, with very little engine or wind noise on a motorway. The exhaust has been tweaked to be even quieter than the standard V8, although you can still switch into Sport mode if you want the V8 rumble for added theatre.
What’s it like inside?
To fully appreciate the EWB’s changes, you’ll be better off sitting in the back seat. Those rear doors look and feel pretty large when you open them, but when you're inside, you simply press a button on the centre console to close them electronically. The rear section of the centre console has been redesigned and extended to bring the controls and air vents in closer reach, while an additional wireless phone-charging tray has been fitted.
EWB buyers can choose whether to have a three-person rear bench, two reclining 'Airline' rear seats or the so-called 4+1 layout. With the 4+1 option, you get two full-sized rear seats with a long central armrest that folds away to reveal a smaller back-up seat. That brings added versatility – although you’ll feel like you’ve drawn the short straw if you find yourself sitting on it.
There’s a little head room to spare for those around 6ft 2in tall, and if you upgrade to the Airline seat specification, you get two 22-way adjustable back seats, with backrests that can recline up to 40 degrees. There’s also a footrest that folds down from the back of the front passenger seat, although that takes up a little foot space, so taller occupants will end up moving their seats back (rather than fully reclining them) to a more natural posture. Regardless, getting comfortable shouldn’t be a struggle, and you’ll be snoozing long before you’ve even tried all the different configurations.
The Airline seats aren’t just heated and cooled, either: they also automatically adjust to keep you at the ideal body temperature. As well as having a massage function, the seats will periodically tweak their positioning to adjust your posture, minimising the chances of fatigue on a long journey.
To get the full first-class travel experience, you’ll want to sit behind the front passenger seat, because that can be moved forward remotely when it’s not occupied. That leaves room for you to stretch your legs out horizontally, especially when the seat is set in its most upright position.
If you’re ‘subjected’ to the front seats of the EWB, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice any difference from the regular Bentayga. That’s no bad thing because the interior is beautifully finished – and you can read more about the standard car in our full Bentley Bentayga review.
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