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[NEWS] Bentley Bentayga EWB 2022 first drive

Bentley Bentayga EWB 2022 first drive

bentley bentayga ewb 01 front tracking

Crewe stretches SUV by 180mm and ups luxury yet further to create new flagship

Luxury limousines have existed for as long as the rich have wanted to arrive in style, but extended SUVs haven’t.

With the Bentley Bentayga EWB, the British company is pioneering a new segment, albeit with the proviso that the Range Rover LWB has long done the same thing with slightly less posh badging.

An extra 180mm has been put into the Bentayga’s wheelbase, with all of that going to improve rear passenger space. You can have a regular threeman bench, two individual seats or, for £8395, Airline Seats, these well in the running to be the comfiest and most adjustable ever offered in a car.

Beyond increased room, this SUV has another mission: fill the flagship role vacated by the Mulsanne in 2020.

Only one powerplant is offered at launch: the 542bhp twin-turbo 4.0- litre V8 from the regular Bentayga. A V6-engined plug-in hybrid system is expected to be introduced later. The specification is predictably generous, inlcuding an active anti-roll system and active rear steering, the latter a first for any Bentayga.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the driving experience is very similar to that of the regular Bentayga V8. In character, it’s the exact opposite of the snarling Bentayga S, yet performance remains impressively brisk, the 0-60mph time extended by just 0.1sec, thanks to the extra weight being only about 100kg.

The EWB can be hustled at serious velocities if the mood takes you. Sport mode turns up the anti-roll system to all but eliminate cornering lean, and it feels impressively wieldy for something so big and tall. But Comfort mode is far more in keeping with the EWB’s purpose, the fully softend air springs absorbing rough asphalt without complaint.

Switching to the back seat gives the chance to test the more significant. It does feel huge, with more leg room than in the Rolls-Royce Cullinan or Range Rover LWB. The Airline Seat doesn’t offer quite the level of adjustability you would get flying at the sharp end, but the backrest’s maximum 40deg angle is certainly reclined. An under-calf powered rest rises in unison, and in the most laid back Relax mode, the front passenger seat is motored forwards and upright.

The Airline Seat also features an internal multi-zone climate control system that will monitor both the temperature and humidity of any part of a body resting against it, heating or cooling as necessary to maintain a chosen temperature. I didn’t actually notice this working – which is undoubtedly the point – but I certainly felt fresh after an hour of being chauffeured at full recline. There’s also a multitude of massage and posture-improving functions.

There are a couple of issues, though. The first is dictated by physics: the higher seating position of an SUV means cornering loads have more effect on a recumbent passenger than if positioned lower, so chauffeurs will have to take a very leisurely pace on non-straight roads to avoid complaints from the back.

The second is the fact that the extra room makes the fold-out table at the top of the front seatback pretty much useless as anything bar a tablet rest; in contrast, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS gets a fold-out airline-style table.

Even after I’ve experienced its spacious charms, the EWB doesn’t feel like an obvious successor to the Mulsanne. It’s better to drive than the venerable saloon ever was, being quicker and more dynamically secure, but it doesn’t have quite the same sense of occasion.

Yet the EWB undoubtedly looks better than the regular Bentayga, and apart from the need to pay a substantial supplement (even an optionless EWB is predicted to cost a punchy £211,300), choosing the stretch requires no sacrifices beyond the more subdued engine note.

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