Bentley takes rear-seat luxury to new levels with the EWB version of its Bentayga SUV. EWB stands for 'Extended Wheelbase', which means more leg room in the back for the understatement of the year. You get two seats that recline, a footrest, pillows, TVs, Champagne flutes and more. Oh, and a powerful engine, silent interior and handcrafted woods, leather and chrome.
“If you have just under a quarter of a million pounds to spend on something with four wheels that gives you the highest possible degree of private and bespoke comfort”
What do you want? All this luxury and change from a fiver? Wallet-friendly this car is not, barely scraping 20 miles per gallon while costing the earth in insurance, road tax (or VED, to give it the proper name), new tyres, a total re-paint when you scratch the £24,000 optional finish, and so on. On the other hand value for money is all relative, so we’re handing one star back on the basis that if you have just under a quarter of a million pounds to spend on something with four wheels that gives you the highest possible degree of private and bespoke comfort, it doesn’t come much better than the Bentayga EWB. In fact, our test car had every single possible option on it and came in at £211,000, which is sort of a bargain when you think about it…
Expert rating: 1/5
Reliability of a Bentley Bentayga
“Bentley throws its own magic dust over every project, so this is is no way a Q7 by the time it lands”
Bentley remains under the wider Volkswagen umbrella which has its ups and downs - on the downside, small-minded, jealous little people will tell you you’ve spent a shedload of money on an Audi Q7 with a new grille. On the upside, you get to share the group’s considerable know-how, parts, suppliers, engineering, chassis and engine development. Sure enough, Bentley throws its own magic dust over every project, so this is is no way a Q7 by the time it lands in dealerships even if the beating heart of it has been thoroughly tried and tested in other models.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Bentley Bentayga
“Lane assist, for example, should be standard but comes on the optional Touring pack”
As is often (but shouldn’t be) the case in luxury cars that cost a fortune, many of the safety features that are standard on cars half the price come as additional options. Lane assist, for example, should be standard but comes on the optional Touring pack, which also gets you a head-up display, adaptive cruise control and night vision. You do get a suitably commanding view of the road ahead and the Bentley four-wheel drive mode selector which lets you dive between comfort, sport, a bespoke setting and various slippery-surface options for confidence inspiring grip.
Expert rating: 3/5
How comfortable is the Bentley Bentayga
“The left rear seat can deploy into VIP mode, which automatically slides and tips the front passenger seat forward, lowers a foot rest and reclines the rear seat”
Comfort is what this car is all about. It’s an utter joy for rear-seat passengers, whether they’re executives taking a power nap between meetings or bored teenagers of the super-rich stretching out. Aside from the normal Bentayga creature comforts like the silently smooth ride, masses of light from the elongated glass roof, soft leather and the massaging and temperature-controlled padding, you can also specify a system called Airline Seats. This gives you two individual reclining rear seats with pillow-clad headrests, which also sense the posture and temperature of their occupants and continuously adjust to maintain optimum comfort. Best of all, however, the left rear seat can deploy into VIP mode, which automatically slides and tips the front passenger seat forward, lowers a foot rest and reclines the rear seat into a semi-lying position. At 5ft 6in, we could stretch and raise our legs out straight without hitting the front seat.
Expert rating: 5/5
Features of the Bentley Bentayga
“There’s the partnership with Naim, the British audio supremos who create bespoke systems for Bentleys as well as the homes of their owners”
How about an optional refrigerated Champagne bottle holder for just shy of five grand and two Champagne flutes with their own cabinet and holders? Or veneered picnic tables that fold slowly down? Then there’s the stunning handheld remote touchscreen tablet for nearly £3,000 that releases from its magnetic hold for rear passengers to control all the entertainment functions along with seats, temperature and privacy blinds. Most impressively of all there’s the partnership with Naim, the British audio supremos who create bespoke systems for Bentleys as well as the homes of their owners. The near-£7,000 system in the Bentayga is the one option we’d simply have to tick. The bass alone is unbelievable, thumping through the seats to turn this car into some sort of mobile West End club, but with crystal-clear treble that brings entire symphony orchestras to life on the motorway.
Expert rating: 5/5
Power for a Bentley Bentayga
“It’s a cleverly engineered unit, pulling this very, very heavy car along seamlessly, with big spurts of acceleration”
We shouldn’t be giving massive petrol engines the thumbs up any more, but at least this 4.0-litre V8 is turbocharged twice for greater efficiency. Clutching at straws, perhaps, especially as we cleared about 18mpg during our test period and it’s got 542 horsepower. But it’s a cleverly engineered unit, pulling this very, very heavy car along seamlessly, with big spurts of acceleration when you need it. And that’s the point of big engines these days. It’s about knowing you’ve got it for peace of mind, rather than using it all the time and pulling into a fuel station forecourt every other day. Surprisingly, the Bentayga EWB is also very easy to pilot in confined spaces, thanks to a clear view of where the bonnet ends, light steering and all those cameras. We’ll take one.