December 9, 2023

The Bentayaga is unmistakable as a Bentley. From tip to tale it is luxurious and sophisticated with distinctive headlights and a high-riding station wagon-like body styling. This version reviewed, the 2024 Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheelbase (EWB) is longer than the traditional Bentayga, giving back seat riders more space, making it a more palatable chauffeur-driven experience.

The Bentayga EWB is the first Bentley, “dedicated to the onboard wellness of its occupants,” the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adrian Hallmark said in the press release upon its debut. In Bentley terms, the crossover achieves that in droves.

Dressed in a two-tone Topaz Blue exterior paint job and wearing 22-inch, 10-spoke wheels, the Bentayga Azure comfortably stood out in the long sea of luxury vehicles at the valet stand at Detroit’s newest upmarket hotel, even before the brand name was taken into consideration.

Its stance and styling make its presence remarkable, whether it’s at the hotel or an Einstein’s Bros. Bagel location at Southfield and 12 Mile Roads.

There’s something to be said for the fact that every morning during my stay, when I walked outside to fetch the vehicle, the valet said, “Oh, you’re the one with the Bentley,” then proceeded to tell me how nice the car was. It didn’t matter which attendant was there, it was the same song and dance.

The Bentayga is as comfortable at low speeds as it is as high. Power from the car’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine is strong, but delayed an infuriating amount off the get-go when rapid acceleration is required.

Its 542 brake-horsepower and 558 pound-feet of torque are eager to please, and do, when called upon … eventually. Bentley says that it hits 60 miles per hour (mph) from a standstill in 4.5 seconds, which is believable, but the first second of that is maddening.

Shifting is smooth and it pairs well with the ride comfort and prowess allowed by the car’s electronic all-wheel steering, which makes Bentayga EWB a breeze to park in front of a valet stand and maneuver around crowded, aged parking garages.

The steering system, combined with anti-roll stabilizing technology, helps to hold the long model to the road around notoriously tight city on-ramps with ease. The similarly-sized five-passenger Land Rover Range Rover could only dream of this level of proficiency and balance.

Being inside the Bentayga is relative bliss for front-seat occupants. The seats in the Bentayga are better for average-height and below riders than those in the Mercedes-Maybach EQS. In the Merc, bulky under-knee support and distance to the pedals makes finding a comfortable, and safe, seat position relative to the steering wheel a task.

Rear seats, however, don’t hold a candle to those in the Mercedes-Maybach EQS or the Range Rover. While the Range Rover’s are less plush, they are ultimately in nicer surrounds. The EQS doesn’t allow for as much legroom as the Bentayga EWB, but the seats are equally as comfortable.

The Bentley is ready to host you, whether you’re disembarking a flight and ready to relax on the way to the office while behind the wheel, or being driven home after a night out with friends and wish to recline the full 40 degrees to catch a quick nap and digest.

Still, the Bentayga’s rear space just doesn’t seem as nice as the competition’s. The materials aren’t superb quality (outside of the seat leather and door appointments) and the aesthetic finery afforded in other models at this price point isn’t there from the shoulders up or the knees down.

Where the Bentayga wins over the competition is in its customization. There are over 24 billion trim combinations alone for the vehicle, with actual possible specifications upwards of a trillion options. Those fine details are installed by hand, by seasoned workers in Crewe, England who take pride in every cut, stitch and tuck.

Steering wheel design, paired with the electronic instrument cluster display, further the car’s elegance. The Piano Linen interior veneer built upon that, and matched nicely with the two-tone Portland and Imperial Blue hide color scheme the Bentayga Azure Oceania came specified with.

Bentayga EWB Azure is a mid-grade model, not the super fancy Mulliner version where all those combinations are possible, but its aesthetics and ride refinement push the Bentayga forward.

That being said, infotainment technology holds it back. Getting a smartphone to link to the car was an exercise in frustration, with more button presses than felt necessary held back the experience from feeling at all refined. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay was able to do the navigation and entertainment trick and using the native system wasn’t required.

The Bentayga EWB was designed with wellness in mind, which shows. The cabin serves as a retreat and its powerful engine and honed chassis design make the Bentayga EWB a blissful place to escape the world around you.

With comfortable seats, stylish appointments, a road imperfections-absorbing ride and quiet cabin, the Bentayga EWB achieves what it sets out to, but there are still refinements that could stand to be made.

Coming in northward of $265,000, the Bentayga EWB Azure has the looks, feels, and price point to be exclusive. While it’s not immune to powertrain and infotainment areas of improvement, the well-balanced model is perfectly suited for a driver looking for something special.