First Drive: 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheelbase

First Drive: 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheelbase

Riding in the back of most full-sized SUVs can leave you feeling a bit like a kid headed to soccer practice, and sitting behind the wheel of one can impart some serious bus driver vibes. But Bentayga EWB is not your average family hauler and no matter where you’re sitting, this Bentley is a pretty posh way to travel.

EWB stands for extended wheelbase, which, as you’d expect, means the brand has taken its most popular model and stretched it a little over seven inches. That extra length creates more room in the rear for a more comfortable passenger experience. Bentley calls it a “spiritual” replacement to the Mulsanne (their gone-but-not-forgotten limo-like sedan) but the EWB is far more advanced.

We spent a day driving and riding around Vancouver and the Coast Mountains. We put the Bentayga EWB through its paces on highways, city streets, and even up dirt trails to the top of a ski hill at Whistler. After a few hundred miles, we’re sure drivers can find loads of enjoyment behind the wheel, but the real sweet spot is in the back.

That Back Seat

Hop in the rear and the first thing you notice is that extra seven inches. It may not seem like much when you consider the standard Bentayga is already over 200 inches long, but the added length adds up to a massive amount of room. You almost need binoculars to see the front seat.

Then there’s the “airline seat.” The EWD comes standard with a three passenger bench in the back. But for those ready to toss the keys to their chauffeur, the $11,195 option is a must. The furniture upgrade allows the passenger to adjust the seat 22 different ways and recline to 40 degrees. A foot rest can be deployed from the back of the front passenger seat to relieve barking dogs. It’s not quite an international business class flat-lay experience, but it kicks up the opulence a notch or two. Plus, a fully horizontal position would require an entirely different kind of seat belt…

Let’s hope someone in Crewe is working on that right now.

First Look: The 2023 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheelbase Gets a Serious Stretch

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The active massage functions are like magical fingers, hands, and elbows tucked beneath the leather. They’re certainly among the best we’ve experienced in a car. The seat also uses a system that can assess the passenger’s temperature, humidity (read: sweat) on the seat’s surface, then add heat or ventilation or both to achieve “optimum thermal well-being.” Massage tech automatically adjusts body posture using 177 pressure modifications on long trips to allow travelers to arrive more refreshed.

Bentley Motors

Sitting in the airline seat while the EWB whizzes down the road, through the mountains and past pale emerald lakes is a soft and supple experience. The cushy air suspension and the 48-volt anti-roll system act together to minimize bumps and bends in the road. So, even when it gets twisty, you can still find a good nap in the back.

Of course this is a Bentley, so the EWB comes outfitted with the finest seating surfaces with optional detailing in handcrafted wood paneling and inlays. Standard colors abound but if you can’t find one in Bentley’s palette, paints can be matched to nearly any sample. In total, the brand offers a staggering 24 billion trim combinations. So there’s no excuse for your EWB to look just like the neighbor’s.

Behind the Wheel

Despite the attention the designers heaped on the rear compartment, Bentley still says the EWB is a driver-focused vehicle. The EWB features a single power train—a 542-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite the added size, the brand says the EWB only loses a tenth of a second to 60 mph to the standard Bentayga, clocking in at 4.5 seconds.

Pound the throttle and the EWB will get up and go, but you won’t hear much of a howl. The engineers in Crewe have turned down the V-8 volume to quiet the cabin for the passengers in the back. From a driver’s perspective, the engine sounds a bit middling, but we get it.

Without a doubt, at nearly 17-and-a-half-feet long, the EWB is a road-going galleon. But, thankfully, it boasts a slew of features and tech that make it feel much smaller. Think of them as automotive Spanx. Rear-wheel steering allows drivers to pull a full u-turn on a two lane highway without any of the wheels leaving the asphalt. For those who enjoy the twists and turns, sport mode will tighten the setup for a bit of fun. The EWB claims a top speed of 180 mph, but that would significantly diminish the comfort. Maybe let the driver try reaching it on their day off.

The Bentley Bentayga EWB on the road.
Bentley Motors

On the Outside

The increase in size is the first thing you notice on the inside. However, it’s one of the last things when you’re gazing at the exterior. The added length is all masked with larger rear doors. If you were looking at the EWB from the top down next to the standard version, you might notice the moonroof was shifted farther back to align with the new rear seat positions. But for Bentayga connoisseurs, there are a few flourishes. There’s a new front grille and polished 22-inch 10-spoke wheels you can’t get on the standard length version. Strangely, Bentley has no plans to offer the Bentayga in a three-row configuration. Are there no soccer moms or dads in Beverly Hills?

Regardless, whether you’re actually fetching the kids from practice or the chauffeur is ferrying you to a game, the EWB represents a brilliant blend of elegance and performance no matter which seat you choose.

[$230,000; bentleymotors.com]

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