Driving Bentley's Future in the 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

Driving Bentley's Future in the 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The Brave New Bentley

  • Bentley is moving toward an electrified future
  • Six-cylinders, one turbo and a battery pack — and an EPA-rated 17 miles of electric range
  • Fear not, it still drives, looks, feels and smells like a Bentley

Bentley has made no secret of its quest to sell only plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles by 2026 and go fully electric by the year 2030. Known as Beyond100, the strategy was introduced when Bentley unveiled the EXP 100 GT back in 2019 to celebrate the company's 100-year anniversary. Back then, it was easy to dismiss the EXP as a polite nod to environmentalism, but with the introduction of the 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid (as well as the recently announced Flying Spur Hybrid), it's clear that Bentley is moving with purpose toward its goal.

Sadly, at least for fans of powerful and exotic engines, Bentley's sumptuous twin-turbo W12 and boosted V8 will not make the carbon-neutral cut. But if electrified cars do nothing else, they make prodigious torque, and torque is nothing but luxurious.

Hybrid power

Under the Bentayga's familiar hood is a 3.0-liter V6 engine with a single turbocharger. This engine is good for 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft by itself, a far cry from the output of the Bentayga's twin-turbo V8 (542 hp, 568 lb-ft) or its twin-turbo W12 (626 hp, 664 lb-ft). But the addition of an electric motor (126 hp, 258 lb-ft) sandwiched between the internal combustion engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission helps boost the total to a more Bentley-esque 443 hp and 516 lb-ft with both power sources working together.

The electric motor pairs with a 17-kWh lithium ion battery pack that gives the Bentayga Hybrid an EPA-estimated range of 17 miles. A 7.2-kW onboard charger ensures the battery will be fully charged in under three hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet.

Short on speed but not on substance

There's usually an epiphany when the gasoline engine shuts off in a plug-in hybrid and you're propelled along in silence by electricity — a realization of how much noise and vibration the internal combustion engine can put out. But there's a different epiphany in the Bentayga Hybrid, because Bentleys are already ridiculously quiet to begin with. Of course, the single-turbo V6 doesn't offer the same grunt, either physically or aurally, as the V8 and W12 engines, but with the help of the electric motor, the Bentayga Hybrid can still move around without much effort.

In its full EV mode, acceleration can seem leisurely, but if you exercise restraint, you can keep the Bentley under electric power even up to freeway speeds. When driven as a hybrid at a moderate pace, the handoff between electric and gas power is seamless. The Bentayga Hybrid is less responsive to heavy-footed stomps on the throttle than its V8 and W12 counterparts, and there's a mild delay before the Bentley gives you the full beans. Still, the eight-speed automatic handles most normal driving situations with aplomb.

If you were worried if the Bentayga Hybrid would forgo Bentley's traditional opulence to appeal to the more eco-conscious buyer, you can relax. Inside, the Hybrid is just as immaculately turned out as any Bentley, boasting beautiful leather, impeccable stitching and astounding attention to detail. Even with the Hybrid's extra weight and the lack of the non-hybrid's impressive 48-volt chassis control, the ride is still well controlled. We might spec our Bentayga Hybrid without the dazzling 22-inch Mulliner Driving Specification wheels that were on our test car, but we wouldn't be too picky.

Edmunds says

With fewer than five years to go until the 2026 deadline for full-lineup electrification (PHEV or EV), Bentley dived right into the deep end with the new Bentayga Hybrid. Offering a credible 17 miles of electric range, the Hybrid gives up very little of the full Bentley experience in the name of a more sustainable future. As the upcoming Flying Spur Hybrid also prepares to join the ranks, we'll be keenly interested to see how these brave new Bentleys perform in our official Edmunds testing. Stay tuned for all the details.

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