Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid – long-term review - Report No:1
Hear ye, hear ye! Can everyone please be upstanding for the latest addition to the Top Gear Garage: a Bentley Bentayga Hybrid.
And doesn’t time fly? Believe it or not, Crewe’s controversial luxo SUV is now seven years old. In that time, it’s helped headbutt the luxury landscape, morphing it from long and limousiney to tall and 4x4y. And given other luxury manufacturers the confidence to do the same (we’re looking at you Lamborghini Urus, Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Mercedes GLS). But we’ve never lived with one. Mainly because the first generation was hit a bit too hard with the ugly stick.
However, to counter the seven-year itch, this new hybrid Bentayga (the bestselling model) arrived as part of an extensive 1,000 new component midlife facelift. A facelift any plastic surgeon would be proud of as it’s taken some age and flab out the bodywork and significantly sharpened the looks to be less bemused-bulldog-with-its-face-against-a-shower screen and a whole load classier.
More importantly, the fact it’s a hybrid helps move the game on as it’s the first stepping stone to Bentley’s greener, electrified future. Don’t get me wrong, having to bundle a heavy industrial cable out of the boot of a 2.6 tonne Bentley after every round trip does feel a little odd. But we’re going to have to get used to it.
By next year every Bentley will be available as a plug-in hybrid. Then, by 2026, all Bentleys will be either plug-in hybrid or fully electric – with Crewe’s first all-electric car due to be launched in 2025. And get this, by 2030 ALL Bentleys will be EVs, with the W12 and V8s consigned to history. So, if you want to be a Bentley owner, you better get used to bundling those cables about. Or put it on your next chauffeur’s job description.
So, what exactly have we got in the garage? Well, a private plate for one (W66 BML) which instantly makes you feel part of Britain’s aristocratic furniture. Finished in dark Sapphire paintwork with the optional £5,435 ‘Blackline’ specification (which adds some mascara around the headlines and turns all chrome elements, including the massive grille, black) it looks rather smart – which a big, expensive (£157k) SUV like this should.
Inside it’s got a belly full of expensive wood and fine Brunel and Saddle leather contrasted against piano black fascias… which has caused a few raised eyebrows in the office. Thankfully, I’m not to blame – Bentley chose the spec. The £11,750 Mulliner spec option is an extravagance that adds 22-inch 10-spoke wheels, ritzy diamond quilting to the seats and doors, jewel fuel and oil filler caps, knurled sports pedals and embroidered Bentley emblems.
Then there’s the £8,500 ultra-plush four-seat option with £1,715 picnic tables, two tellies and £385 mood lighting. Oh, and the expensive but completely necessary £6,725 Naim audio system if you’re into your choons. Finally, ours is fitted with Bentley’s ‘Touring’ pack which adds adaptive cruise control, night vision, a head-up display and a few other gadgety bits for £6,480.
Now, if like me you have one of those lifestyles an electric car (complete with its charge and range frustrations) can’t quite slot into (without a lot of compromise, swearing and possibly a divorce), these PHEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) offer a natty solution. With the Bentayga serving up 25-ish miles (and 126bhp and 258Ib ft) of silent smugness and leccy range from 13kWh of battery, it’s just about enough range for mooching around town – which plenty of these end up doing. When those batteries are depleted, a 3.0-litre single-turbo V6 cavalry good for 335bhp comes out from under the bonnet gifting you flexibility free of any major range or charging issues. Huzzah! But is it the best fit for a Bentayga? Well, we have a few months to find out.
Good: The Bentayga has finally got some electric assistance and no longer has looks only a mother could love.
Bad: Hmm. The TV screens in the back don’t work and there’s a rattle in the dash. Excuse me while I make a call to Crewe.