The Bentley Bentayga gets an extensive redesign for 2020, but its real job is to kick start its maker’s next century
WATFORD, ENGLAND — Bentley has a new Bentayga, and it’s big, brawny and more brash than ever. Having earlier told CarBuyer it was planning a September launch for Singapore,, Wearnes Automotive now says a November into is more likely.
Prices are still up in the air, but the previous Bentayga sold for S$839,000 without certificate of entitlement or options, Bentley says the new one costs around 5 percent more.
Bentley pulled the covers off the redesigned version of its best-selling model in a virtual press conference yesterday, but invited CarBuyer for a sneak peek at the car just outside London in March, just 10 days before the United Kingdom went into lockdown.
Strictly speaking, the new Bentayga is a facelift of the 2015 car, which Bentley touts as the first luxury sport utility vehicle. But in the sheetmetal, it looks strikingly different, with a complete redesign for the front and rear ends, instead of the usual new-bumpers-and-lamps route to a mid-life facelift.
The grille is larger and more upright, while the headlights are 30mm higher and spaced wider apart. The lamps have 82 LEDs each, and feature the fancy crystal cut glass design also found in the new Continental and Flying Spur models. Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design at Bentley and the overall chief of interior design across the Volkswagen Group, said he wanted to update the Bentayga to match the brand’s latest cars.
“We created during the last years the new Continental GT, the Continental Convertible and the Flying Spur, and we wanted to achieve a certain family feeling, integrating the Bentayga into the Bentley family,” he said in March.
The design team actually got to change every body panel at the front and rear of the car, an expensive decision but one that gave them more scope to alter the Bentayga. “You know, designers always want to have big wheels and they want to have them as outward as possible to give the car a good stance,” Mr Sielaff said. “It is rather difficult because it’s not only a design challenge, it’s also an engineering challenge.”
Cleverly, Mr Sielaff’s team moved the front fenders inwards by 10mm, thus giving the Bentayga the impression of a wider stance. The rear wheels are pushed out by 10mm each side, which also broadens the car’s stance but also happens to improve the steering feel and response.
If the front end looks like an evolution of the first Bentayga, the back is radically different. There’s a new tailgate design that stretches across the full width of the car, with tail lamps that now resemble those of the other Bentley models.
“The clamshell tailgate generates an enormous feeling of width. We also introduced the elliptic rear lights with a lot of 3D and the woven crystal cut theme,” Mr Sielaff said. “It’s a little bit comparable as well to the Continental GT.”
“We also made a bigger rear spoiler,” Mr Sielaff added. “Not so much only for aerodynamic reasons but to counterbalance the stronger front, which is more voluminous.”
Bentley took pains to update the Bentayga’s interior, as well. Along with a redesigned steering wheel and door trims, there’s a new dashboard with a sculptural central air-con vent that shrouds the Breitling clock.
“It’s the little features customers may not notice at first that add up to make the difference in the new Bentayga. It might be the new, horizontal grab handle in the door, or the unique seat stitching — each one emphasising how the design team has gone the extra mile,” Darren Day, Head of Interior Design at Bentley Motors said.
The main touchscreen is now 10.9 inches, and its edge-to-edge display has an anti-glare and anti-glare coating. The head up display now shows traffic info, street names and distance to destination, while the main instruments are now fully digital. Wireless Apple CarPlay will be standard, but Singapore will have to wait before Android Auto becomes available.
As before, four, five and seven-seat versions are available, and redesigned chairs help to create extra room in the cabin.
Asked if Bentley considered building a long wheelbase version of the Bentayga for markets where the wealthy prefer to install a chauffeur behind the wheel, Chris Cole, the product line manager for the Bentayga at Bentley, told CarBuyer that the company did toy with the idea, but pointed out that the four-seat version now offers 10cm more kneeroom in the back, as much as a stretched Range Rover.
The five-seat car’s second row chairs gain built-in fans, and can recline twice as far as before. The bigwigs back there have a new Touch Screen Remote control tablet with a larger, 5-inch display. It’s powered by a quad-core processor and has 1GB of RAM for speedier response.
The ears aren’t left out. The standard Bentley Signature Audio sound system plays music through 12 speakers driven by a 590-watt amp. The optional Naim system has a 1,780-watt that drives 20 speakers.
Also new is an on-board air ioniser. It emits negative ions, which break down harmful compounds and make allergens and dust particles cling to a surface instead of floating around.
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The 550 horsepower, 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine is carried over — it was the most popular engine option — and launches the Bentayga to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 290km/h.
The brand plans to add a hybrid model this year to some markets, with the rest of the world (including us) getting its hands on the petrol-electric Bentayga next year. The Bentayga Speed, the storming version with a 6.0-litre W12 engine, will also join the range early next year, apparently to meet strong demand for such a car in markets like the States.
Bentley says the new Bentayga is the first new model in its Beyond 100 business plan, which charts out the company’s roadmap for its next century, starting this year. Having stated a desire to be a “sustainable luxury mobility” leader, Bentley is working on an all-electric car that will launch within five or six years, according to chief executive Adrian Hallmark. That is when he expects batteries to carry enough energy to propel a high-performance electric Bentley over the kinds of distances that customers want to do.
It turns out that Electric Vehicles (EVs) are already on customers’ radar screens. “When we’ve done our research, with not just the Bentley owners but also buyers of cars in that price category, around 40 percent of them are looking at EVs as their next or next but one car,” Mr Hallmark said. “They expect us to do the work, to find the technology solutions and bring the cars to market.”
While the Beyond 100 plan gets underway, Bentley itself has short-term challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic enforced a 7-week factory shutdown, and froze car buying around the world.
But while the outlook in the USA and Europe remains uncertain, Bernd Pichler, the Regional Director, Asia-Pacific for Bentley says things in our part of the world appear bright. “For Australia, we have seen a strong demand for Bentley as soon as the local restrictions were easing especially now we have the Continental GT V8 models in the market,” he told CarBuyer. “We are seeing high levels of interest particularly for the new Flying Spur across Asia Pacific and the whole world.”
Mr Pichler (above) said demand remains high for now across the APAC region, which suggests that the brand’s wealthy buyers are feeling resilient even in the face of an impending global recession.
“If anything, our customers and prospects have become more discerning and appreciate the finer things in life as they tend to have the mindset of cherishing the ‘now’ moment, instead of waiting for ‘the right moment’ to treat themselves with the ultimate luxury,” he said. “We also gathered from some of our customers that they are spending quality time and embarking extraordinary journeys with their loved ones, exploring hidden gems locally.”
Even if demand remains high, however, Bentley may struggle to meet it. Safe-distancing rules mean that the factory is running well under capacity, while the company recently announced that it would shed 1,000 jobs, about a quarter of its headcount.
Nevertheless, the brand has chosen a best-seller to kick off its next hundred years. The Bentayga accounted for 45 percent of Bentley’s sales last year, and it was a conquest car — 70 percent of buyers were new Bentley customers.
If the road ahead looks bumpy for the car industry, a rugged, powerful SUV with four off-roading modes could be just the thing to see Bentley through.
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