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2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB First Drive Review: More Legroom, Zero Compromises

The more spacious Bentayga EWB targets affluent passengers with a luxurious backseat that promises a first-class airline experience and improved wellness.

2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB Azure
Every one of the EWB's 7.1 inches of additional length are dedicated to the more spacious second row.
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The Bentley Bentayga has had a pretty good run since its debut in 2015. The luxury SUV has risen to become not just the top-selling vehicle in Bentley's current portfolio, but also the bestselling vehicle in the brand's history. Building on that success -- while hoping to fill a long-wheelbase gap left by the 2020 departure of the Mulsanne -- the British automaker has debuted the 2023 Bentayga Extended Wheelbase, EWB for short. Longer, more luxurious (and certainly more expensive) than the standard Bentayga, this stretched SUV is aimed at affluent shoppers looking to be driven, rather than to drive. 

Extended wheelbase

The most obvious physical change to the Bentayga EWB is that it's been stretched to 125 inches, 7.1 inches longer than the standard Bentayga V8. Every bit of that additional length goes towards expanding the rear cabin legroom. The result is a cabin that, according to Bentley, is longer than the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the Range Rover LWB and the Mulsanne that it technically replaces.

The stretch also lengthens the rear door, resulting in a wider opening for entry and exit, but that also makes the reach to close longer -- perhaps too long for some passengers -- so Bentley has equipped the Bentayga EWB with power-closing rear doors triggered by holding a center console button. The engineers also moved the opening for the Bentayga's moonroof rearward to better allow light onto the second row seats.

Stretching the Bentayga required reengineering over 2,500 new parts for the EWB model.

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Inside, the EWB is available with three seat configurations: five seats with a rear bench; four plus one, with deeper outboard rear buckets; and a new four-passenger Airline Seat configuration, which I'll get to momentarily. The center console has been redesigned and lengthened to allow second-row passengers better access to its rear controls and vents. There's also a deployable wireless touchscreen remote that pops out of the console, granting passengers control over the seats, windows, media and various other features and systems.

From the B-pillars forward, the Bentayga EWB is essentially the same as the standard model with the same level of comfort, the same 10.9-inch infotainment suite with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. and the same standard and optional driver aid tech.

Rear-wheel steering and more

The EWB is the first Bentayga model to feature rear-wheel steering that adds up to 4.1 degrees of opposing steering angle to the rear wheels at low speeds to tighten the SUV's turning circle. At 38.7 feet, the EWB's turning circle is tighter than the standard Bentayga's 40.7 feet. There's still a lot of vehicle to keep track of, but the additional maneuverability comes in handy in tight quarters and, at one point during the day, made the difference between a smooth U-turn and an awkward three-pointer. At high speeds, the system switches to more subtle steering in concert with the front axle to help to stabilize lane changes.

Also standard on the big Bentley are self-leveling air suspension with variable ride height depending on the selected drive mode and Bentley Dynamic Ride Control Chassis active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles. Powered by the SUV's 48-volt electric system, the anti-roll hardware helps minimize body movement and lean when cornering to improve passenger comfort -- that it also boosts driving engagement in Sport mode is a nice bonus. 

Surprisingly, the extra length and equipment doesn't come with a huge weight penalty. The Bentayga EWB with the four-plus-one seat configuration weighs just 218 pounds more (5,542 pounds total) than the standard wheelbase with the same seats.

4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8

The new Vertical Vane grille is yet another visual indicator of the EWB model, behind which you'll find the now familiar 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, making 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and permanent all-wheel-drive. From the driver's seat, the EWB doesn't feel any different from the standard Bentayga V8. It's engaging when you want it to be and an extremely pleasant highway cruiser.

Launching in Sport mode gets you to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds (only a 10th of a tick slower than the shorter spec) with the exhaust snorting loudly between upshifts on its way to a top track speed of 180 mph. In addition to Sport, there are seven more drive modes -- including much quieter Comfort and Bentley modes and a variety of off-road and weather programs -- that adjust the behavior of the engine, transmission, electronic rear differential, air suspension and more.

From the driver's seat, the EWB feels identical to the standard Bentayga V8, which is impressive, considering the additional length.

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Bentley hasn't stated whether we'll eventually see an extended version of the Bentayga Hybrid. The plug-in hybrid is currently the least expensive Bentayga variant, but also the heaviest and least powerful. Adding weight, complexity and cost (both monetary and in efficiency), stretching the current PHEV doesn't really make a ton of sense. That said, Bentley is set to transition to a fully electric lineup by 2030, so the automaker must at least be thinking about some degree of electrification in the next few years.

First-class seating

In its four-seat configuration, the Bentayga EWB can be equipped with 22-way power adjustable Airline Seats with up to 40 degrees of recline in their Relax mode. The passenger-side VIP seat allows for the most leg extension, sliding the unoccupied front seat forward and deploying a footrest at full recline. These seats are packed with features aimed at pampering passengers, including an Auto Seat Climate system that measures the occupant's temperature and humidity to automatically adjust the heating or cooling level of the backrest and seat independently to maximize comfort. I'm a maximum seat cooler all day kind of guy, but the auto-climate setting was consistently comfortable over many hours, even when it decided that heat was what I actually needed.

There's also an Automatic Postural Adjustment feature that can be activated to subtly adjust the shape of the seat periodically to reduce fatigue and increase blood flow during long journeys. Mercedes-Benz offers a similar tech called Energizing Seat Kinetics, but that only adjusts the incline of the seat and backrest for the front seats. Bentley's backseat tech uses the massage pads below the thighs, shoulders and lumbar providing a claimed 177 adjustments every three hours over six pressure zones. The occupant can adjust the intensity or limit the adjustments to specific areas of the seat. In practice, I'd probably just get out and stretch after a few hours, but I did enjoy the subtle movement at the lowest intensity, finding it less intrusive than Benz's system. Those same pads come into play for conventional massage programs as well.

Optioning the Airline Seats equips the Bentayga EWB with advanced 22-way power reclining chairs with an extendable footrest.

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Azure range

The debut of the Bentayga EWB also marks the genesis of Bentley's new Azure range. Where the S and Speed models emphasize speed and performance, the Bentayga EWB in Azure trim focuses on comfort and passenger wellness, especially for backseat passengers. That includes improved active and passive noise cancellation, a separate rear air ionizer, a heated steering wheel, embroidered Azure logos and quilted leather seats and door trim. Meanwhile, unique 22-inch wheels, Azure badges and bright chrome lower bumper grilles add a bit of visual pop to the exterior.

For the first year of production, buyers will also be able to order a limited First Edition Azure spec, which builds on the Azure suite with unique stitching, handcrafted metal overlays for the door veneers, illuminated door sills and standard Naim premium audio with 20 speakers and 1,720 watts of amplification. First Edition models also come standard with Bentley Diamond Illumination, which adds micro-perforations to the quilted door leather to allow LED ambient lighting to glow through with 30 selectable color themes. There's First Edition badging to be found, too, around the cabin and outside on the D-pillars.

Bentley expects the longer, more expensive EWB will eventually make up around 45% of Bentayga sales.

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If you have to ask…

Perhaps even more than the standard Bentayga, the EWB model is a bespoke product that can be customized and built to the buyer's specifications. Shoppers can select from 63 standard and extended paint colors -- with more shades of blue alone than most models' entire gamut. Inside there are 11 wood veneer species, including three open-pore trim options and 15 standard and extended leather hide choices. With dozens of features, technologies, creature comforts and visual bits to choose from, Bentley reckons there are around 26 billion possible Bentayga configurations. I haven't done the math, but I've poked around the configurator long enough to believe it.

Bentley has already opened the order books for the 2023 Bentayga EWB and is accepting inquiries from interested customers with the first examples reaching driveways later this year. When the dust settles,  Bentley predicts that the EWB will make up 45% of Bentayga sales. Oddly, pricing hasn't been announced, but it will surely be more expensive than the standard wheelbase Bentayga V8, which starts around $177,000. As is often the case with high-luxury, bespoke vehicles such as this, expect to pay much, much more to get the exact Bentayga EWB of your dreams.


Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of CNET's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.