LONDON — Bentley has spent big to upgrade its top-selling model, the Bentayga, in a bid to hold off new competition such as the Aston Martin DBX.
The British ultraluxury automaker has redesigned the SUV to give it a higher positioning, further away from the competition, CEO Adrian Hallmark said in a news release on Tuesday.
With the exception of the doors, all of the SUV’s exterior panels have been redesigned, with the most dramatic changes coming at the rear of the car.
The current model’s conventional tailgate has been replaced with one that stretches around the side of the car. This eliminates the shutlines seen from the rear and also allows the incorporation of elliptical lights similar to those on Bentley’s Continental GT coupe and convertible.
“The level of investment in this car is significant,” Bentayga product line director Chris Cole told Automotive News Europe at a pre-reveal of the SUV in March.
“With new entrants such as the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Aston Martin DBX and Lamborghini Urus, we wanted to give it a significant design step,” Cole said. “We wanted people to really see it as a new car.”
The Bentayga’s grille has been redesigned so it sits 30 mm (1.18 inches) higher to give the SUV more dominating look. The front fenders were reduced in width by 10mm while the rear wheels were pushed out by 10mm.
“The engineers didn’t immediately fall in love with us when we mentioned this but it really improves the stance a lot,” Bentley head of design Stefan Sielaff told Automotive News Europe.
The Bentayga accounted for 45 per cent of the automaker’s global sales last year, with a production of 5,232 units, more than any other model in its lineup.
The SUV has been a notable success since it was launched in 2015, creating a new niche in the ultraluxury sector.
The car’s popularity allowed the design team to be braver on the upgrade than it had been the first time around.
“I think it was good to do something more neutral then because it was the first time Bentley was doing an SUV, so it was a bold statement but not in your face,” Sielaff said. “This time we could try something a bit more extroverted to give it a more modern appearance.”
The revamped Bentayga will initially only be available as a V-8 engine when it goes on sale later this year. The engine develops 542 hp (and 568 pounds-feet. (770 Newton meters) of torque. The engine currently accounts for about 70 percent of the SUV’s sales, the company said.
Bentley’s 12-cylinder engine and a V-6 plug-in hybrid will return at a later date.
The plug-in drivetrain will have a longer battery-only range, Cole said without giving a figure. The plug-in hybrid variant accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of Bentayga sales but “the indications are that it will grow, particularly in Europe and China,” he added.
Inside, the SUV now has a digital screen behind the steering wheel in place of the traditional analogue dials. It also incorporates a wider screen in the center of the dashboard.
Above the screen Bentley has added an elaborate sculpture made of anodized aluminum that uses the Bentley ‘B’ logo as inspiration to house both vents and an analogue clock.
Bentley has also included new veneers including aluminum cut with a 3D effect that references the Bentley matrix grille.