There’s a gulf between the image of the conventional stretched limousine and the futuristic image of the expanded ‘living room on wheels’-style electric car that is promised to be just around the corner. Yet both archetypes do pretty much the same thing: prioritise passenger space. Bentley’s latest model, the Bentayga EWB (Extended Wheelbase) is the latest in a long tradition of extended cars from the company, typically manufactured for dignitaries and industry titans who feel that conventional scale is somewhat lacking.
Adding 180mm to the standard model, the Bentayga EWB is a sort of replacement for the Mulsanne, the company’s former flagship that ended production in 2020. It’s a very different beast, being an SUV first and foremost, whereas the Bentley Mulsanne was a traditional grand saloon of the type that is fast fading from our roads.
And while the Mulsanne was made in relatively low numbers – just 7,300 hand-built examples over a ten-year lifespan – the Bentayga is currently Bentley’s big seller, with around 20,000 sold within four years of the car’s debut in 2016. What’s more, Bentley expects this new variant to account for 45 per cent of all new Bentayga orders, emphasising just how much certain customers expect to be driven around, rather than drive themselves.
For that is the main point of the EWB. As you’d expect, all that extra space goes into the rear compartment, which is now filled with two grand ‘Airline Seat Specification’ thrones, with all the reclining and massaging and cosseting you can get.
In addition, the seats include something Bentley is calling its ‘advanced postural adjustment system’, which ‘subtly and continuously changes the shape of the seat around the body, preventing dead spots and fatigue build up’. In other words, the seat wriggles for you so you don’t ever get uncomfortable.
The full spectrum of rear entertainment is also included, with twin rear screens, fold-down picnic tables and the detachable ‘Touch Screen Remote’ in the centre console.
Optional configurations include four-and five-seat ‘Comfort’ specs, which do away with the ability to recline the seats by 40 degrees, but allow you to fold the rear row to maximise the boot space – there’s no seven-seat option for the EWB, as there is with the standard Bentayga. Dip into Bentley’s Mulliner option book for limitless other ways of enhancing the space.
Other innovations include self-closing doors (the first time on a Bentley – they’re more usually found on Rolls-Royces) and the introduction of Bentley’s ‘diamond illumination’, a form of leather finish that incorporates background lighting through the trim patterns.
The soft, pillowy feel of the leather seats is even more refined thanks to advances in production, and the company claims there are 24 billion different trim combinations, hopefully reducing the chance of seeing an identical model to your own.
Traditionally, China has been the number one buyer of longer cars as the cultural cachet of being driven has endured amongst luxury car buyers. Typically, most premium manufacturers still build special lengthened versions for the Chinese market. To date, however, that extra stretch has been reserved almost exclusively for saloon cars, while the Bentayga EWB is very much a traditional SUV, even if that rear compartment is now part spa, part boardroom. Yet with design possibilities being opened up by the next wave of high-end EVs, there’s an even more radical future for interior luxury on the horizon.