The Bentley Bentayga occupies a weird spot in the automotive industry. It’s one of the most expensive and exclusive models on its platform (shared with the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Lamborghini Urus), but it’s not the most expensive or exclusive model in its class.
It’s always been beautifully built and extremely well equipped, but in the past, my beef with the Bentayga was that it just didn’t do anything that much better than its more affordable cousins. With the introduction of the Bentayga Extended Wheelbase (EWB), that all changes, and the Bentayga truly becomes its own thing.
To start, the Bentayga EWB is no longer technically based on the MLB Evo platform on which the normal Bentayga rides. It is a new, bespoke platform that Bentley claims it spent billions of dollars developing. The biggest change is obviously the wheelbase, which has been stretched by 7.08 inches (180 mm), all of which goes to increasing the room for rear-seat passengers. That’s key, because the EWB is all about the passengers.
In addition to the stretch, Bentley has added four-wheel steering, which means that, despite the extra seven inches, the EWB has a turning circle of 38.71 feet, 1.89 feet smaller than a standard Bentayga V8. It also gets Bentley’s Dynamic Ride system with 48-volt active sway bars and height-adjustable air suspension. The benefit comes in overall maneuverability and general comfort, with the bonus of making the Bentayga surprisingly good to drive swiftly on pavement and surprisingly competent off-road.
The Bentayga EWB is available exclusively with the totally stellar 547-hp Audi-derived 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. This is the right move because it offers tons of power, much better packaging than the W12, and a more refined experience than the Bentayga Hybrid. Will Bentley eventually offer those drivetrains in the EWB? Knowing Bentley, yeah, probably. I’d still go for the V8, though. That engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, as per usual.
Without driving a standard-wheelbase Bentayga back-to-back with the EWB, it’s hard to say just how different the two feel, but I can say definitively that the EWB drives a lot smaller than it is. The chassis movements are well-controlled, and in sport mode (or even the slightly more relaxed Bentley mode), it’s quite happy to hustle down a twisty road. The other drive modes, including the off-road modes, offer noticeable changes in how the vehicle handles. While our drive route didn’t offer any hardcore off-roading, we did putter around the Whistler Olympic Park, which had a lot of gravel roads, steep hills and bear poop, and the Benters acquitted itself admirably. We didn’t see bears, though, just poop.
Other smaller changes include a sunroof that’s pushed further back to better serve rear-seat passengers. There’s a new vertical-vane grille which looks rad and is a throwback to Bentleys of days gone by. The massive rear doors now feature power-close, where you push a button on the backside of the center console and the doors shut automatically.
Another tried-and-true Bentley feature that returns for the EWB is the optional and utterly mind-blowing Naim stereo system. It’s the best OE car stereo I’ve heard at any price, and while it’s an optional extra, it should be considered mandatory on any new Bentley. It almost feels like they put the base stereo there for profiling purposes in a “No Naim stereo, hmm? Perhaps sir would feel more comfortable at the Audi dealer” kind of way.
We’ve established that the Bentayga EWB is focused on rear passenger luxury and comfort. But other than the extra length, what sets this apart from the standard Bentayga? To start, there are three seating configurations available: A normal three-across bench rear seat, as well as a 4-plus-1 setup (aka two buckets and a center console that folds up in a pinch) and a true four-seat configuration. Bentley’s super smart and ultra adjustable Airline Seating Specification is available on the latter two configurations.
During my drive of the Bentayga EWB, I spent time in the back and front seats with both the standard and ASS seats. My takeaway is that there is no such thing as a bad seat in a Bentayga EWB, but the degree of comfort I experienced in the ASS seats was almost unreal. In addition to being almost obscenely adjustable, the automatic climate control setting is incredible. I could feel the seat making adjustments to keep me at my desired temperature, and never once did I find myself getting too hot or too cool. The “Postural Audit” system, which adjusts automatically to reduce pressure points, also worked like magic. Considering that Bentley is only asking $11,995 for them, I’d consider them mandatory for any EWB purchase, and indeed, Bentley claims 50 percent of EWB buyers have opted for the ASS seats.
Speaking of purchase, Bentley expects that people will do a lot of EWB purchasing, estimating around 45 percent of all Bentayga sales will go to EWB models. Considering the Bentayga is already Bentley’s best-selling model, this quickly becomes a super important variant for the company, which explains the massive investment Bentley made in its development.
Where the standard Bentayga had to get by on being a status symbol and a very nice but expensive vehicle, the Bentayga EWB offers buyers something different, something you can’t get elsewhere. The long-wheelbase Range Rover is slightly cheaper but isn’t as luxurious, and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is significantly more expensive. The Bentayga EWB creates a sweet spot for itself.
The Bentayga EWB will start at $226,900 while the wellness-focused Azure trim level will start at $263,900. Bentley expects the average Bentayga EWB to sell for around $300,00 or just under, which reflects the extreme degree of customization (Bentley reps claim 24 billion possible combinations for options and colors) available to prospective buyers.
If you want a Bentayga EWB and you’re a person of means, you can speak to your Bentley dealer and get an order in. Word ‘round the campfire is that they’ll start arriving at dealers later this year.