The Bentley Bentayga isn’t the lone segment leader it once was. Since its 2015 debut, the ultra-luxury SUV segment it kicked off has ballooned, with competition coming not just from other high-end manufacturers like Rolls-Royce but also from Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover as they seek to push further upmarket. The party is getting crowded, and despite arriving early, the luxuries offered by the Bentayga went from being a differentiator to an industry standard.
Instead of morphing it into something it isn’t, Bentley chose to double down on the all-out opulence that made the Bentayga a best-seller in the first place and introduce the EWB. Short for extended wheelbase, this latest offering is more than just a stretched Bentayga. Its updated architecture features over 2,500 new parts. And with options like its reclining airline rear seat, body-sensing auto climate settings, and a new all-wheel steering system that disguises its 125-inch wheelbase, the EWB stands out within the model range.
|Engine||Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8|
|Output||542 Horsepower / 568 Pound-Feet|
Not that you’d immediately notice just by looking at it. Despite its wheelbase growing by 7.08 inches (180 mm), the stretch is focused mainly on its rear doors. Its designers kept front and rear updates to a minimum while blending the elongated doors into the SUV’s flared rear arches, allowing it to retain the same aesthetic as the standard model. It’s hard to tell, even up close, which version you’re looking at.
A good thing considering that the Bentayga is aging well. Although it received valid criticism when new for its styling, a 2020 facelift streamlined the Bentayga’s look. It is now a full-size SUV that retains a level of elegance missing from its predecessor. Its aesthetic is directly tied to the rest of the brand’s current lineup.
Those seven extra inches cost Bentley over nine figures in development costs as the EWB rides on a heavily revised architecture, which includes over 2,500 new parts. Its roof has been repositioned backward to better align with its second row. Other changes, like its trim-specific grille with vertical slats and 22-in 10-spoke wheels, are easier to spot.
My tester is part of a limited run of First Edition EWBs. It wears a Cumbrian Green exterior with a two-tone interior with the same green shade as its bodywork. It has an almost beige shade of Portland for its seats and Liquid Amber wood trim on its dashboard, door panels, and rear center console. Combined with contrasting chrome accents, this configuration is subtle but elegant.
The sound from its quad exhaust tips is anything but subtle, though. This may be an ultra-luxury SUV, but its idle sound is befitting of a muscle car. It counts on the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 as the standard Bentayga. It develops 542 horsepower and 568 foot-pounds of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a standard all-wheel-drive system. Despite its 5,542 curb weight, the EWB still sprints to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Bentley has no plans to offer its stretched SUV with W12 power. This is primarily for weight reasons, as the V8-powered EWB weighs about the same as the twelve-cylinder Speed. This is a good move for the Bentayga. Although the British carmaker is known for its 12-cylinder powerplant, this V8 is quickly becoming my personal favorite. It’s lighter, more efficient, and nearly as powerful but is far more responsive with little turbo lag. Add in its burbly exhaust note, and it sounds better too.
On the road, the EWB reveals its biggest party trick, as it feels nearly indistinguishable from a standard Bentayga, despite its added weight and size. Blindfolded, I doubt I’d be able to tell them apart. They share the same adaptive air suspension system, although the EWB gets Bentley Dynamic Ride and an all-new electronic all-wheel steering system as standard. Like with its price point, the EWB also falls between a Range Rover and a Rolls-Royce Cullinan regarding ride comfort. Not segment-leading, but very close.
Where the Bentayga leads is in terms of handling. Bentley’s Dynamic Ride system combines active anti-roll bars to eliminate body roll in the bends. Despite the plushness of its dampers, the EWB remains virtually flat in corners. You turn in and wait for it to lean, but nothing happens. It’s easily one of the most athletic luxury SUVs on sale.
Its electronic all-wheel steering system works well to hide its length around tight city streets. Bentley claims that the EWB has a smaller turning radius than a standard Bentayga thanks to its rear axle, and I believe it. You can barely feel the rear wheels turning as the rear axle works alongside the front to deliver a smooth motion. The result is an SUV that maneuvers like one a full class smaller.
Inside is where the EWB differentiates itself from its competitors most. Upfront, it features 16-way adjustable chairs with heating, cooling, and massage functionality. They’re big, wide, and tremendously comfortable. They’re exactly what you’d expect from an SUV at this price point, and settling into a perfect driving position takes seconds.
That said, the big story lies in the EWB’s second row. My tester came equipped with the optional $11,195 Airline Seat Specification, and it’s a must for the EWB. No other optional extra takes advantage of this Bentayga’s wheelbase like this upgraded chair. Like the front set, it’s 16-way adjustable but can recline at up to 40 degrees to make it easier to sleep on the move. However, my tester featured optional twin 10.1-in rear screens with deployable tables for entertainment.
Bentley named the seat after those found on modern airliners, but the carmaker is selling itself short here. The Bentayga’s rear seats are more plush and inviting than anything I’ve experienced in the air. Although they offer heating, cooling, and various massages like the front chairs, the EWB introduces a new auto climate system. You pick a desired temperature; the seat will measure your body’s temperature and humidity and deploy heating or cooling. This may even require heating for your torso and cooling for your legs. It sounds distracting, but it works surprisingly well.
All of the rear’s functions are controlled via a deployable touchscreen that sits in the center console. From there, you can adjust the rear seats, change the temperature, or even deploy the Bentayga’s blinds. It may sound a bit gimmicky, but these differences set luxury products apart at this price point, and the Bentayga’s only add to the SUV’s feeling of opulence.
While none of the EWB’s updated tech is groundbreaking on its own, combined, they work to deliver a feeling of luxury and theater that less expensive options don’t. The Bentayga never lets you forget that you’re riding in something expensive because, of course, you are.
The 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB starts at $266,225, including a $2,725 destination fee. However, my tester, which features optional extras like its $11,250 First Edition Specification, $11,195 Airline Seat Specification, and $8,815 Touring Specification, comes in at $306,165. Despite its extras, this EWB doesn’t touch the Rolls-Royce Cullinan’s estimated $350,000 base price, despite offering similar levels of quality and comfort with more up-to-date features.
On the surface, the EWB reads like just a stretched Bentayga, but you’d be wrong. With those extra inches added to its wheelbase, this lengthy Bentayga makes a strong case for itself as a segment-leading luxury SUV but a proper limousine replacement. While its airline seat is a pricey optional extra, it’s completely worth the money for its added comfort and flexibility, especially when you’re already spending deep into the six figures for luxury transport.
The Bentley Bentayga may not be alone in the segment it initially kicked off, but it’s constantly being updated to stay near the top of the SUV food chain. The EWB not only helps differentiate the model, but it’s easily the best Bentayga yet.