Extended wheelbase version of SUV adds 180mm of length for more backseat space
An extended-wheelbase version of the market-leading Bentley Bentayga SUV has been revealed and officially labelled it the marque’s new flagship, a status previously held by the Bentley Mulsanne limousine, which ended production in 2020.
The new model, called EWB for Extended Wheelbase, is stretched by 180mm and has all of its extra space in the rear passenger compartment and extra length in the rear door. Sold only with a twin-turbo petrol V8 “for the time being”, it ushers in a suite of trim, paint and styling changes, the most obvious of which is a new vertically slatted grille.
The EWB also introduces a new rear steering system that both reduces the turning circle and enhances high-speed stability, a refinement that first appeared in Bentley’s Flying Spur saloon in 2019 and more recently in the Bentley Continental GT. Despite the extra length, the EWB’s turning circle of 11.8m is actually 0.6m tighter than a standard-wheelbase model’s.
The EWB’s launch is a stern defence of Bentley’s leadership in the global super-luxury SUV market. Last year, the Bentayga accounted for more than 40% of Bentley’s record annual sales (14,659 units, up 31%) and the company expects about 45% of future Bentayga buyers to opt for the EWB.
The Crewe firm effectively invented the sector with the Bentayga’s launch in 2015 and has maintained its supremacy through the arrival of the Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The imminent arrival of the Ferrari Purosangue is likely to expand super-luxury SUV sales further: Bentley bosses say today’s 40,000 sales should climb by one-third by the end of the decade.
Bentley acknowledges the battle with its rivals by pointing out that the EWB is roomier in the rear than the Cullinan and Range Rover, and equal with both for head room despite having a less boxy shape and a lower roof. But despite the larger rear cabin space, there won’t be a seven-seat Bentayga EWB.
Instead, buyers get a choice of three rear-seat options: a luxurious two-seat layout, a classic three-person bench and a combination of the pair called ‘4+1’, which puts a small jump seat between two larger rear seats.
The EWB also introduces (optionally) a new kind of climate seat that senses an occupant’s body temperature and surface humidity and adjusts the ambient temperature and airflow for comfort. It can also sense an occupant’s seating pressure points and make “micro adjustments” for maximum comfort.
There are a number of new, super-plush trim options: a new, intricate kind of diamond quilting, a perforation pattern for the doors that is backlit by LEDs (with light intensity and colour controlled from the fascia) and a separate ionisation system for the expanded rear compartment that stresses what Bentley calls its “new focus on wellness”.
Bentley expects the EWB to cost around 15% more than the standard car, when specifications are matched like for like, but a greater range of options means full-house cars will top £300,000. Production of the new model has already begun and Bentley aims to start delivering customer cars in the early summer.
Q&A: Chris Cole, Bentayga product line director
Why is the EWB “much more than a stretched Bentayga”?
“It contains a great deal of bespoke engineering, a whole new rear body frame and a total of 2500 new parts. There’s also a new rear suspension that ensures its on-road behaviour maintains the existing car’s standard. And it introduces many new options – as you would expect of a new flagship for the company.
Is the EWB aimed at particular markets?
“Well, demand for cars like this is very strong in China. And we think it’ll be popular in China and America. But we believe there will be strong demand in all markets – hence our prediction that it will account for 45% of future Bentayga sales, or more.”
Why wasn’t the EWB launched as a hybrid?
“We’re concentrating on a V8 model at launch, and we’re not commenting on future versions. But the logic of a hybrid isn’t lost on us. Bentayga hybrid sales have been running at 20% already, and the car is popular in key markets.”