The Bentley Bentayga has accomplished quite a bit over the last seven years. Not only did it kick-start the ultra-luxury SUV segment as we know it today, but it also became the British carmaker’s best-selling vehicle in the process. In 2021, the Bentayga accounted for over 40 percent of the brand’s global sales, effectively making it Bentley’s most important model.
However, since its unveiling in 2015, the segment has ballooned with multiple competitors, effectively neutralizing the Bentayga’s early lead. With rivals matching its comfort, quality, and driving experience, Bentley’s golden goose has to differentiate itself now more than ever. Enter the 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB, short for long wheelbase, which aims to do just that.
I recently flew to Vancouver, Canada, to drive Bentley’s newest offering. After nearly 200 miles of city streets, twisty roads, and light off-roading trails, it’s clear that a firm focus on passenger comfort yields not only one of the best luxury SUVs on sale today but easily the best Bentayga yet.
At first glance, the 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB looks almost unchanged from the standard model, and that’s intentional. While its wheelbase grows by 7.08 inches (180 mm), its designers focused the stretch primarily on the rear door section for greater second-row space. The lengthened Bentayga now sits just shy of 17.5 feet long.
As far as tell-tale signs go, just three let you know you’re looking at the newest variant. These include a new grille with vertical slats, 22-inch trim-specific 10-spoke wheels, and a sunroof that’s repositioned towards the rear to allow the sun to shine on the second row. All in all, exterior changes remain minimal for the stretched EWB. According to Bentley, the goal wasn’t to reinvent the Bentayga but to build on its existing aesthetic.
A stretch has done the Bentayga well as it’s one of those subtle changes that nudge its styling from pleasant to stunning. Thanks to its added size, its rear arch line appears more defined and present than ever. It also further separates the Bentayga from other VW Group products that ride on the MLB Evo platform. But then again, it would because Bentley claims it has invested nine figures into this new architecture, developing over 2,500 new parts in the process.
If that seems like a massive investment for a new variant of an existing model, it’s because the Bentayga EWB also fills in the gap left by the Mulsanne EWB. It’s no secret that the executive sedan market is shrinking while its SUV equivalent blooms. Therefore, building the Bentayga EWB instead of a new sedan is a no-brainer. Bentley has high hopes for its latest variant, estimating it’ll eventually account for over 45 percent of total Bentayga sales.
The EWB counts on the same 4.0-liter 32-valve twin-turbocharged V8 as the standard Bentayga, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel-drive system. It develops 542 horsepower and 568 foot-pounds of torque, an amount that’s good enough to rocket even this sizable SUV to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Like its shorter sibling, the EWB is quick both off the line and at speed with endless low-end torque and a properly brute note from its oval-shaped exhaust tips.
As of writing, Bentley has no plans to build a W12 version of the EWB with weight likely being the main culprit. Although we don’t yet have official figures, Bentley mentioned that the V8 EWB weighs nearly as much as a W12-powered Bentayga, thus making the chances of us ever seeing a W12-powered EWB very slim.
The stretched Bentayga now gets Bentley Dynamic Ride as standard, which includes a 48-volt active anti-roll bar system. In the Continental GT Speed, we took to Las Vegas earlier in the year, it almost eliminated unwanted body-roll, and it’s a similar story in the Bentayga. It reduces undesirable motions while retaining a properly comfortable ride. However, as the road got twisty, not even this system could hide the EWB’s heft.
Like that GT Speed, the EWB also benefits from an automatic rear-wheel steering system that moves the rear wheels in tandem with the front at speed and in opposite directions while moving slowly for better maneuverability. Despite its lengthened wheelbase, the EWB’s turning radius is seven percent smaller than that of a standard Bentayga at 37.7 feet (11.8 m).
Although hard to compare without driving them back to back, the EWB seems to drive just like any other Bentayga. It’s heavy, plush, and absolutely effortless to putter around town in. With its feather-light steering that feels utterly disconnected from the road and three-chamber air suspension, the Bentayga flattens road imperfections, allowing little of the outside world to disrupt you as you waft along in your six-figure SUV.
The Bentayga’s driving experience falls somewhere between that of a Land Rover Range Rover LWB and a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. As an ultra-lux SUV, Bentayga outperforms its lower-priced competitors by edging them out in the comfort and noise isolation categories. However, it lands just shy of the segment-leading Rolls and its magic carpet ride. Given the massive pricing disparity, that’s still a massive feat.
Inside is where the EWB comes into its own. It’s available in a five, four, or 4+1 seat configuration. The five-seat setup is similar to a traditional SUV and offers the least supportive rear seats but allows you to fold them for added practicality. The 4+1 configuration features a tiny foldable center seat flanked by two plush chairs, while the four-seat configuration is just that and easily the most comfortable.
Buyers considering a Bentayga EWB will likely want what the carmaker calls its Airline Seat. It’s the plushest seating option and features two modes, “Business” and “Relax.” The former will sit the chair upright so you can use the small retractable table to work, while the latter pushes the front seat away and reclines up to 40 degrees while bringing forth a small footrest.
The rear chairs offer 22-way adjustability and countless massage features. They’re big, cushy, and outrageously comfortable. Perhaps the most surprising thing about them is the notable side bolsters that offer excellent support for longer drives. New for the EWB is what Bentley calls Seat Auto Climate. The system allows you to set a desired temperature. From here, the seat will then measure your body temperature and humidity and cool or heat different zones to achieve the desired temperature.
It’s pretty subtle, making it hard to tell when it’s cooling or heating. It works seamlessly in the background. If that’s not enough, there’s also a new Postural Adjustment feature which counts on six zones to make up to 177 adjustments to various pressure points. It keeps your body moving in multiple ways to avoid numbness over long drives. Like the cooling, it works surprisingly well, albeit not as imperceptibly.
The EWB’s second row is the place to be. Bentley claims this latest model has a firm focus on wellness and comfort, and after sitting in the rear for multiple hours, I concur. None of the new systems are invasive, they work well around you. Almost as if the car is caring for you as you ride to your next destination. Some over-the-top features may seem silly on paper, like the push button close rear doors, but they add to the Bentayga’s overall experience. In the ultra-luxury segment, it’s these unique experiences that matter most.
Bentley has yet to release U.S.-specific pricing for the EWB, but they did mention that it should be around 15 percent more than a standard V8 model. The V8 currently starts at about $167,000, so the EWB should cost approximately 192,000 without options. For context, that places the Bentayga firmly between the Land Rover Range Rover LWB ($154,450) and Rolls-Royce Cullinan ($350,000 est) mentioned earlier.
While it still fits in neatly between its competitors pricing-wise, the EWB’s forte isn’t just its new size or added passenger space. The stretched Bentayga is the best version of the SUV because of how it makes its passengers feel. Combining new tech and hardware allows the Bentayga to offer a truly unique experience. While being first on the scene had its advantages seven years ago, it’s these unique experiences that’ll ensure it retains its spot as one of the best luxury SUVs on sale.