Bentley Faces the Electrification Dilemma: Testing the Waters with the Bentayga S Hybrid



Bentley’s Dilemma in the Ever-Changing Electric Car Landscape.As the electrification revolution sweeps through the automotive industry, luxury carmakers like Bentley find themselves at a crossroads, unsure of the optimal pace and extent of committing to electric mobility. The market is witnessing a fierce competition among volume-selling premium brands, with new plug-in hybrid SUVs flooding the scene every month. Prominent names like BMW, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz boast vehicles with impressive electric ranges, reaching 60, 70, or even 80 miles of official ‘equivalent all-electric range.’

Bentley, with its iconic Bentayga series, can afford to take a cautious approach for now, as buyers of the new Bentley Bentayga S Hybrid are unlikely to fret over benefit-in-kind tax bills. However, the brand cannot remain on the sidelines indefinitely. As the electric SUV segment evolves rapidly, Bentley’s customers may soon start to compare its Bentayga offerings to the competitors’ models, questioning the disparity in electric range.

The Bentayga Hybrid, introduced by Crewe in 2019 as the marque’s first electrified car, holds its place in the luxury electric vehicle market. Nevertheless, Bentley has taken a closer look at the Bentayga after gaining valuable insights from the electrification process of the Flying Spur. As a result, they have made certain improvements to the Bentayga Hybrid range, including the introduction of new comfort-oriented ‘Azure’ and sporty ‘S’ variants.

However, one notable aspect that remains unchanged in the Bentayga S Hybrid is its powertrain. Unlike the Flying Spur Hybrid, which features a shorter-stroke, higher-output, twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre engine, the Bentayga S Hybrid still relies on the 3.0-litre version of the Volkswagen Group’s EA839 V6 petrol engine. This difference is essential to consider when comparing the two Bentley models, as the Bentayga S Hybrid doesn’t adopt the exact powertrain as its limousine counterpart, despite the badge suggesting otherwise.

While Bentley has made some adjustments to the Bentayga S Hybrid, such as enhancing its motor for increased power and torque, and offering a slightly longer EV range, the driving experience hasn’t undergone a transformative shift as some may have expected. It features a distinct sports exhaust and a sound generating resonator to compensate for the subtle lack of audible presence in the combustion engine. Additionally, the sporty seats, bumpers, and optional carbon fiber body trim add a touch of athleticism to the model.

As the competition in the electric luxury car segment intensifies, Bentley’s strategic decisions will be crucial in maintaining its position as a prominent player in the luxury electric vehicle market. While the Bentayga S Hybrid shows some enhancements, it remains to be seen how Bentley will navigate this rapidly evolving landscape and meet the demands of discerning customers.

The automotive industry is witnessing a fierce competition among premium brands venturing into the world of electrification. Car manufacturers like Bentley find themselves at a crossroads, trying to determine the right balance and pace for transitioning their cars to electric power. As the market sees a surge in new plug-in hybrid SUVs from BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and others, with impressive electric ranges of 60, 70, or even 80 miles, Bentley contemplates its next move.

While some may argue that Bentley can afford to take a backseat in this race, catering to a niche market, they cannot remain complacent forever. As the world embraces electric mobility, Bentley owners will eventually wonder why their Bentayga struggles with a limited electric range while their colleagues’ Range Rover offers a far greater distance on electric power alone.

Currently, the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, introduced in 2019 as the brand’s first electrified vehicle, resides in this rapidly evolving market for luxury electric transportation. However, Bentley has been diligently working on refining the Bentayga’s offerings. Recently, they added the new ‘Azure’ and ‘S’ variants to the Bentayga Hybrid model line, with the latter being the focus of our testing.

Despite these improvements, one key disappointment remains: Bentley opted not to replace the 3.0-liter V6 petrol engine with the more powerful 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged version that propels the Flying Spur Hybrid and Audi RS4, among others. While the Bentayga S Hybrid boasts marginally enhanced power and torque, along with a slightly longer electric range, it falls short of being transformed into a true powerhouse as one might expect.

Bentley made efforts to enhance the driving experience, equipping the Bentayga S Hybrid with a special sports exhaust and a sound-generating resonator under the bonnet to compensate for the combustion engine’s subdued audible presence. The sporty seats, bumpers, and optional carbonfibre body trim add flair to its appearance. Yet, it’s crucial to note that the driving dynamics haven’t undergone a significant transformation.

For Bentley, the electrification journey has begun, but the path ahead is complex and requires thoughtful navigation. As the automotive landscape continues to evolve, we eagerly await Bentley’s next move in electrifying its esteemed lineup of luxury cars.


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