- The Bentayga EWB adds about 7 inches to the wheelbase.
- Illuminated leather door trim is a showstopper.
- The Airline Seat specification is the way to go.
The Bentayga SUV has been an unqualified success for Bentley, accounting for 40% of all of the automaker's sales globally. We love it too — after a significant refresh in 2021, the Bentayga rose to the No. 2 slot in our list of the best Super Luxury SUVs thanks to its exceptional comfort, blistering performance, and impeccable interior materials and design. The Bentayga doesn't really have many faults, though we will admit it doesn't have the enormously spacious interior that you'll find in the Flying Spur or the old Mulsanne.
That minor issue will be solved by the upcoming 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheelbase. The Bentayga EWB adds over 7 inches between the wheels and debuts a number of features that should make living in the back seat even more relaxing and luxurious. Think of it as the ideal ultra-SUV for people who would rather relax in serenity than drive in infuriating stop-and-go traffic.
As was mentioned, the Bentayga EWB rides on a wheelbase lengthened by 7 inches. But it's not simply a cut-and-shut job. Boasting 2,500 new parts for the EWB, Bentley has essentially reengineered the Bentayga from the front seats back. Changes to the underbody and chassis even mandated considerable retooling and modification of the Bentayga's assembly line.
Outside, there's a new grille featuring vertical vanes for added presence, a new wheel design, and subtle styling changes that do very well to camouflage the Bentayga's newfound length. In fact, from many angles it can be difficult to differentiate the EWB from the standard Bentayga. Another subtle change involved repositioning the Bentayga's panoramic sunroof farther rearward to keep the sun shining brightly on the EWB's rear passengers.
Inside, the leather seats get a new quilting design, new metal inlays have been created for the wood trim, and the rear console has been redesigned. The EWB introduces illuminated leather trim, which employs 68 LEDs below the perforated surface of the door inserts. There's also a new trim level — or specification, as Bentley calls it — known as Azure. If Bentley's Speed specification adds more, well, speed, then the Azure adds increased levels of comfort, mainly through the use of even more sound insulation. Oh, and there are now power-closing rear doors — just press a button and watch your neighbor with the new Range Rover weep.
Our biggest tripping point with the Bentayga has long been its rather ordinary rear seat. It wasn't particularly spacious, and in the standard three-person bench configuration, it didn't look particularly special either. We always felt the Bentayga is best experienced as a four-seater, and we're pleased to see the EWB take that to a whole new level.
There is, inexplicably, still a bench seat as standard equipment, but the EWB can also be had in a four-plus-one configuration (essentially a four-seater with a makeshift fifth possible if you lift up the center armrest) and as a true four-seater. If you opt for the four seats — as well you should — then you must spring for the Airline Seat specification. It brings 22 ways of adjustment as well as humidity-sensing seats that will automatically activate heating or cooling as needed to optimize your comfort. We spent over an hour in the right rear passenger seat (that one gets to move the front passenger seat well and truly out of the way), and we can say in no uncertain terms that the temperature and humidity functions work flawlessly.
The rear seats also get a full complement of massage programs, including ones designed to help correct your posture over longer journeys. Again, what sounds like a bit of gimmick is anything but. These are the most advanced rear seats in the automotive kingdom. Those massage functions, as well as the climate control (now with rear ionizers), audio controls and various other settings, are controlled through a rather weighty and slick-looking detachable tablet. It's about the size of a smartphone and works as well as it feels in your hands.
To fully appreciate the rest of the rear seat experience, you almost have to be there. With the EWB's longer doors and equally longer windows, visibility is exceptional. Add in the repositioned panoramic sunroof, and throw in picturesque scenery to boot, and riding in the back of the EWB feels more like traveling in a luxurious rail car. There's the faint rumble from the V8, almost no wind noise, and the ever present and unmistakable smell of Bentley leather. It's about as serene as you can get.
Thankfully, the experience we enjoyed so much in the standard Bentayga — driving it around like we owned every road — has not changed. The first versions of the EWB will be powered by the robust 542-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. Bentley claims that even with the extra weight of the EWB modifications, the Bentayga only loses about 0.1 second to 60 mph. We stuffed the throttle into the Bentayga EWB's sumptuous carpeting, over and over again, and have no reason to doubt that claim. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission.
What has changed is the addition of standard rear-wheel steering. This gives the EWB a tighter turning circle than a short-wheelbase Bentayga and makes it about as easy to maneuver as a considerably smaller SUV. As a bonus, the Bentayga EWB feels much more nimble on a back road without losing any stability at higher speeds.
The Bentayga EWB's growth spurt has given the super luxury SUV a new purpose, thanks to a huge boost in rear legroom and added comfort. Combine that extra legroom with arguably the most comfortable rear seats on the market and you've got a new Bentley that carries on the finest traditions of some of the marque's most storied models.