by Jay Traugott
Following the reveals of the refreshed Bentley Bentayga V8 and Bentayga Speed, the more efficient and green-friendly variant is now in the spotlight. Meet the 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, the only electrified ultra-luxury SUV on the planet (for now). Like the two aforementioned Bentaygas, the Bentayga Hybrid features updated exterior styling more in keeping with the rest of the lineup and numerous interior improvements.
Bentley also points out the SUV is now quieter and offers a more refined driving experience after the automaker discovered that 90 percent of owners drove their first-generation Bentayga Hybrids on a daily basis and almost 100 percent of them use the EV only mode regularly.
With that in mind, Bentley's task was to further improve upon a winning formula while still managing to lure in new buyers. Combined with new connectivity and driver-assist technologies, the facelifted Bentayga Hybrid looks like a winner.
Like the rest of the refreshed Bentayga lineup, the Hybrid variant boasts a more modern and purposeful look. Bentley says every panel at the front and rear has been updated. There's a larger, more upright matrix grille that enables the hood to sweep down to the edge of chrome work. The new elliptical LED matrix headlights are slimmer, further apart and 1.18 inches higher. They also include the brand's signature cut crystal design and sparkle even when not lit.
There are more radical changes at the rear where an all-new tailgate is joined by elliptical taillights for a cleaner look. The license plate has been moved lower into the bumper to allow for more prominent brand lettering above, while an available Blackline Specification swaps out all exterior chrome trim in favor of black elements for those who desire less bling.
Bentley went to great lengths to properly update and improve the Bentayga Hybrid's interior. There are new door trims, steering wheel, and a redesigned center display and digital instrument cluster. The fully digital and customizable instrument panel's look will now change depending on whether it's being driven in EV mode or combustion power. In EV mode, for example, a battery status dial appears instead of the coolant temperature gauge. Wireless Apple CarPlay is now standard, as is a 10.9-inch touchscreen.
There are also new seats boasting greater comfort. A four- or five-seat seating configuration remains available, with the latter having two individual rear seats with a center console in between. Rear seat passengers also benefit from increased knee room in the upright seating position and nearly four inches when reclined.
Additional interior enhancements include dark tint diamond brushed aluminum (a first in any Bentley) and two new grained veneers: Koa and Crown Cut Walnut. Those who opt for the ultra-luxurious Mulliner spec receive a new quilting design and optional micro piping for the seats.
The Bentayga Hybrid continues to come powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine paired to an E Motor with 126 horsepower. Combined output comes to 443 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Total driving range is a claimed 536 miles with up to 31 miles of pure electric power available at speeds up to 84 mph. Bentley says the 17.3-kWh lithium-ion battery can be fully charged in just two and a half hours when receiving juice at the maximum rate of 7.2 kWh.
There's a button specifically to control the three E driving modes - EV Drive, Hybrid, and Hold. This way, drivers can manually manage battery usage (the SUV can also automatically do this task). EV Mode is designed specifically for city driving and short errands around town. Hybrid Mode maximizes efficiency and range by utilizing data from the intelligent navigation system, making it ideal for road trips. Hold Mode cleverly balances engine and electric power in order to hold a high voltage battery charge for use at a later time.
All Bentayga Hybrids come standard with charging cables for home use or public charging ports. Buyers can also receive a Bentley Wallbox as a no-cost option.
Bentley has not yet announced official pricing but the outgoing 2020 Bentayga Hybrid began at around $160,000. Expect a similar starting point. Depending on optional features, such as the Mulliner Specification, the SUV can easily reach the $200,000 mark.
The competition in the ultra-luxury SUV segment is small but growing. Without question, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the Bentayga's most direct rival. However, the Cullinan does not yet offer a hybrid or plug-in hybrid version. An all-electric Bentayga is not expected to arrive until the completely redesigned model debuts, and that's still a few years away. In the meantime, the Bentayga Hybrid continues to be the sole player in its segment but we suspect that Rolls-Royce will soon follow suit. Those who desire a hybrid luxury SUV but prefer to spend a little less money, look no further than the Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid.
Expect the 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid to arrive in showrooms in the coming months.