Bentley was quick to recognize that despite a century of tradition dictating otherwise, it needed an SUV in its lineup. And, as has occurred with other luxury marques (Porsche, for instance), that $180,000 SUV quickly became the company’s biggest seller—in its first month on the market in 2016, actually.
Despite having its factory closed for seven weeks, Bentley had a great year in 2020, selling 11,206 cars and SUVs (up from 11,006 in 2019). Sales in the Americas (including Canada and Latin America) were up 4.2%to 3,035, but there were even bigger gains in China—up 48.5%.
The Bentayga is now Bentley’s second-best seller, after the Continental GT. It’s important to Bentley’s future, and the model has been updated for 2021, with all new bodywork ahead of the windshield and behind the rear doors, new lighting technology, cabin trim, and rear-seat systems. The digital dashboard is now specifically configured for the hybrid model. The new hybrid arrives early in the second quarter of 2021, Bronner said.
In terms of styling, all Bentayga models get a wider grille, larger bumpers, and new elliptical LED headlights like those in the Flying Spur and Continental, adding to the family resemblance. The windshield wiper arms have also been upgraded to include 22 washer jets each.
In the rear, there’s a new tailgate across the full width of the car, with a relocated license plate location and new tail lamps., The updates are on the subtle side—not major changes.
The hybrid, introduced in late 2019 for the 2020 model year, is where Bentley is going. As Penta has reported , the entire brand is electrifying, and the plug-in hybrid version of the big SUV, called the New Bentayga Hybrid for 2021, is a beachhead in that effort. It would be interesting to know what percentage of Bentayga sales are of the hybrid, but the company doesn’t break its data down that far.
The Bentayga combines a three-liter V6 with an electric motor to produce 443 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. There’s an eight-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. The car has a zero to 60 miles per hour time of 5.2 seconds, and a top speed of 158.
The hybrid system and the power output remain the same for 2021. The model uses the electric motor (all 126 horsepower of it) as the default setting. As long as there’s juice in the battery, the gas engine won’t ignite unless you really put your foot in it and reach 84 miles per hour. The battery pack is now 17.3 kilowatt-hours, up from 13. A charge should take about 2.5 hours. Europeans measure climate impact in terms of a car’s carbon dioxide emissions, and the hybrid comes in at a low 78 grams per kilometer.
There are Hybrid and Hold modes, with the former optimizing efficiency with both gas and electric motors, and the latter saving electric range for later use. When you choose a destination with the navigation system, the Bentayga can optimize which systems are in use getting you there. And the car lets you know via a haptic buzzing in the accelerator pedal when you’re in danger of going too fast for electric mode. Overall, the hybrid has 536 miles of range.
When the electric motor is in charge, the Bentley achieves the fuel-economy equivalent of 45 miles per gallon. When it’s in hybrid mode, that’s reduced to a so-so 21 miles per gallon combined. Remember, it’s a big, heavy car.
For buyers who want to get in early, there’s the First Edition version of the hybrid, with unique badging, leather seats with special embroidery (a choice of a “First Edition” logo or Bentley wings), and some distinct contrast stitching on the car’s diamond quilting.
Standard on the First Edition, but optional on other Bentaygas, is the more powerful Naim for Bentley audio system, upgraded seats, and Touring specifications to enhance long-distance journeys.
It’s worth noting that the luxury SUV field is now crowded, even on the level of this Bentley, with entries from Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Aston Martin, and others.