And stretch: meet the Bentley Bentayga EWB

Published: 11 May 2022

► New Bentley Bentayga EWB revealed
► 180mm stretch from the B-pillar back
► Becomes Bentley’s most luxurious model

The Mulsanne is dead, long live the Bentley Bentayga EWB, for extended wheelbase. Described by Bentley as its ‘pinnacle luxury product’ (and considered a whole separate model, with a unique floor and pressings), the stretched Bentayga is an ultra-plush creation with truly epic legroom. 

It takes the place of the recently discontinued Mulsanne as the comfiest, most luxurious, most limo-like Bentley on sale today. The company considers this car its fifth model line, alongside the Continental GT Coupe, Convertible, Flying Spur, and regular-wheelbase Bentayga.

How luxurious are we talking?

A 180mm stretch 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. Full-recline, airline-style seats are an option, and there are 24 billion trim combinations, including fine metal trim inserts just 0.07mm thick.

(Bentley also points out there will be 37 trillion ways to configurator the EWB, whereas Range Rover has 1.7 million – there’s upscale one-upmanship for you.)

Why Bentayga to replace Mulsanne, and not a new saloon model?

Adapting Bentayga makes eminent business sense: the E-segment (large saloon) market is shrinking, and the large SUV D-segment is still growing. In Bentley’s words, it’s ‘raising the ceiling of the D-segment.’

As of the end of January 2022, its sold 28,537 Bentaygas. It’s the best-selling Bentley Crewe makes by some margin.

Bentley is proud of the Bentayga’s bandwidth. It’s a three-tonne family car that can wade through water, handle well on a back road and not look out of place on a chauffeur-driven trip to the opera. Since its launch at Frankfurt 2015, there have been W12, V8, hybrid, S, and rapid Speed versions – now there’s a limousine variant too.

Bentley expects the EWB to make up 45 per cent of future Bentayga sales.

How much is the Bentley Bentayga EWB?

Pricing is TBC but sensible estimates suggest buyers can expect a like-for-like increase of around 15 per cent over a regular-wheelbase Bentayga when the EWB launches in late autumn 2022. A lavishly specced-up car could top £250k.

What’s changed, other than the wheelbase? 

A great deal – enough for Bentley to consider the Bentayga EWB a new vehicle in its own right, rather than a Bentayga range variant. 

‘This is way more than a stretched version of the Bentayga,’ says product line director Chris Cole, who says the company has made a nine-digit investment to design, develop and build the EWB.

It has a brand-new underfloor and the 180mm overall length increase is all in the rear door and rear cabin. 

The C-pillar has unique new pressing, with a remarkably sharp angle to its surface.

At the front, the difference is more subtle, with a different vertical-vane grille (as per the Flying Spur) from the SWB Bentayga. Suspension is the same as the SWB, albeit with altered calibration for the different weight distribution and different rear uprights due to rear-wheel-steering system fitted as standard.

It’s the first time rear-wheel steering has featured on a Bentayga, giving the EWB a tighter turning circle than a standard Bentayga V8. Although the hardware for the steering system is closely related to that of the Continental GT Speed and Flying Spur, fitting it to an SUV platform is not a straightforward engineering challenge, Bentley insiders suggest, and they’re proud of the adaptation to Bentayga.

What engine powers it? Will there be a W12 EWB?

It uses the 4.0-litre V8 powertrain seen in the regular Bentayga (and many other products such as the Audi S8 and Porsche Panamera, to name but two). There won’t be a W12 version – Bentley is reserving that engine for the Bentayga Speed short-wheelbase. Since the EWB’s emphasis is on ‘comfort and wellbeing, not sport,’ there won’t be an EWB Speed variant.

In the Bentayga EWB the V8 turns out 568lb ft and 542bhp.

Top speed is approximately 180mph. At 4.6sec (an estimate – all performance figures are TBC for now), it’s only 0.1sec slower to 62 than a normal V8. 

Weight is the same as a regular Bentayga W12. Unladen weight is 2514kg, 107kg less than a V8 SWB (with Dynamic Ride) and the same weight as a W12 SWB Speed.

Will there be a PHEV version?

It’s under consideration. Given that in 2021, one in five Bentaygas sold were hybrids (surpassing even Bentley’s own expectations), and the technical feasibility is there to do it, a plug-in is highly likely to join the EWB range in the near future.

Will it be as good as the shorter Bentayga to drive?

Bentley promises it will. The rear-steer system helps virtually shorten and lengthen the wheelbase for agility/stability, and Cole says driving dynamics are similar to a short-wheelbase Bentayga V8. ‘We want this car to be great to drive,’ he says.

Bentley Dynamic Ride is standard, with electric anti-roll bars capable of 1300Nm of roll-resistant torque in 0.3sec.

Cole describes it as ‘a car you can arrive in at the opera, and also thoroughly enjoy driving it yourself if you want to.’

What’s the cabin like?

The rear cabin is the Bentayga EWB’s raison d’etre, Bentley stating the design brief was ‘ultimate luxury in the rear of the car.’ The rear doors are motorised as standard with a ‘tip to run’ function – one gentle prod of a fingertip is enough to set the doors off and motors finish the job to whir them close.

A 98th percentile male can stretch out in toe-wriggling comfort without difficulty, as per a first-class airline flight depending on the seat options selected, and rest their feet on footrests.

Bentley claims the EWB can offer ‘optimal thermal wellbeing’ by core temperature regulation for occupants with ‘the most advanced seats ever fitted to a car’ (in the case of the airline-style seat option) and ‘dual rear air ionisers to remove harmful air particles’, describing the EWB as ‘wellness on wheels.’

The rear seats can be adjusted in 22 ways. Furthermore, a ‘postural adjustment’ system continuously alters pressure at 177 different points in seven pressure zones in the seat. 

A muscle-massage system continuously subtly prods and adjusts the key pressure points in the seats at all times during a journey – for example, your right shoulder and left thigh being nudged imperceptibly. Bentley says it considerably reduces driver fatigue without occupants necessarily noticing it. There’s also a sophisticated temperature regulation system in each seat, to regulate the occupants core temperature to a precise degree using the seats’ heating and cooling software.

The sunroof has been moved backwards towards the rear cabin, the better to light it.

Up front, there’s updated infotainment for the driver and front passenger (and rear passengers too, with their own controls).

There’s a unique colour split for the rear cabin and Maria Mulder, head of colour and trim, describes how Bentley’s familiar quilted diamond pattern has been reinvented, with an elongated asymmetrical pattern, creating the feeling of the cabin stretching away from you to accentuate the extra space. Illuminated trim includes a ‘light-through’ option, with coloured light shining through perforations in the quilting. Extremely fine metal pressings 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 boot is gigantic on 4+1 seat configuration cars, slightly less so on five-seaters due to a different rear bulkhead.

How does it compare with 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 LWB Range Rover offers four, five or seven seats. The SV version, the most comparable in terms of luxury and customisation, is available with four or five seats only. It too offers a large length increase of 200mm over the regular Rangie. Four- and five-seat versions cost more than £125k.

What else is Bentley up to?

In 2021, it had a big year. It released the Flying Spur Hybrid, Continental GT Speed and Mulliner variants, plus the Bentayga S.

The 80,000th Conti GT rolled off the line, it had its highest ever year of profitability, with a record 14,000 global sales, a 40 per cent improvement on the heavily Covid-imapacted 2020. 

The first battery-electric Bentley EV is to be produced in Crewe from 2025 and the company is investing more than £1bn into EV development, including a major recruitment drive.

It’s also working on greener end-of-life disposal programmes for its cars – although it’s keen to point out that 84 per cent of Bentleys ever made are still on the road. 

From autumn this year, there’ll be a few more longer, larger ones.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

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