- since the bentley bentayga is faced with an ever growing list of competitors including the rolls-royce cullinan and the aston martin dbx, the 2021 model is more than a midterm refresh.
- there are notable changes to rear-seat space and infotainment user-friendliness, along with the more obvious visual improvements.
- at launch later in 2020, only the v-8-powered model will be available, but a plug-in hybrid and a w-12 speed model are coming later.
the biggest challenge for those on top of the pile is always staying there. having pioneered what could be termed the ultra-luxury suv with the launch of the bentayga in 2015, bentley has confirmed the popularity of the genre by selling 20,000 around the world since then (these are big numbers in the bentley universe), with the bentayga making up nearly half the company's total production last year. but now others are following bentley's lead, and the bentayga is suffering tougher competition from the rolls-royce cullinan, lamborghini urus, and soon-to-launch aston martin dbx. which is why what would normally be a trim-tucking midterm facelift has been turned into a comprehensive visual makeover.
the bentley's core structure is unaltered, but both ends of the car have been substantially changed. at the front there is a broader radiator grille which the design team say is meant to help concentrate the visual mass of the car lower, together with bigger bumpers and "cut glass" elliptical led headlights inspired by those of the flying spur and continental, with the aim of creating an obvious family relationship among the styling of all three cars. the bentayga has also been given "wet arm" windshield wipers: no more vulgar spraying, with the system now using 22 washer jets incorporated into each arm to wet the screen.
revisions at the back are even more obvious with the arrival of a full-width wraparound tailgate incorporating oval lamps and with the license plate mounting moved to the bumper. the first bentayga had a more conventional trunk aperture dividing the rear light units, which the company clearly reckons wasn’t sufficiently redolent of bentley's other models. although the new tailgate is wider the space behind it–dictated by the structure of the bentayga's body shell–remains the same size.
the cabin has also received a subtle makeover, with most of this prioritized around improving usability. the obvious change is the arrival of a larger, higher resolution 10.9-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard, with this working with smarter hardware that now supports wireless apple carplay integration. other connectivity changes include a new optional touchscreen remote control tablet for rear seat passengers, similar to the one introduced with the flying spur, a wireless charging pad, usb-c data ports and an always-on data connection for the car’s various connected applications. beyond the new screen the only obvious difference is a slight redesign of the central air vent.
rear-seat accommodation has also been improved. as before, the bentayga will be available with the option of a rear bench or two separate seats. bentley has redesigned the internal framework for the individual seats to improve kneeroom by 1.2 inches when upright, and by up to 3.9 inches when the seat is in its reclined position. fold-down third-row seating will continue to be an option in conjunction with the rear bench, making this the only car in the segment other than the mercedes-maybach gls capable of carrying seven occupants.
mechanical changes are minimal. we're told by senior engineers that bentayga buyers have been largely delighted by the car's combination of comfort and modest athleticism, which is why they are going to be getting more of the same. the only significant tweak has been a 0.8-inch rear track increase, which is claimed to reduce steering effort and improve the linearity of responses. all other components remain as before, including a 48-volt active anti-roll system and eight different driver-selectable dynamic modes, four for use on road and four off-road.
the new bentayga will be launched with the sole engine option of the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged v-8 from the outgoing car, producing the same 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque and with the run on four cylinders under gentle use to boost economy. bentley claims identical performance figures to the previous v-8 bentayga, which we ran from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. a w-12-powered speed version will follow later in the u.s., as will a plug-in-hybrid version using a 3.0-liter v-6 which the company promises will be the most fuel-efficient bentley of all time.
the new bentayga goes on sale later this year, and we will bring you full pricing and u.s. spec details when we get them.