2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid leads brand's electrification charge

Bentley has launched the third model in its updated Bentayga range, with the introduction of a hybrid version of the luxury SUV.

The new Bentayga Hybrid joins the Bentayga V8 and the W12 Bentayga Speed and is the first of two plug-in hybrid models due to be released by Bentley this year.

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Its release comes just a year after the first-generation Bentayga Hybrid hit the market but comes on the heels of a major refresh for the model.

Like all updated versions of the Bentayga, the hybrid has a larger, more prominent grille, higher-set headlights and a substantially redesigned rear end in an effort to give it a more modern and purposeful look.

Inside the cabin has been modernised as well, with new seats, a new digital instrument cluster, steering wheel and updated centre console housing a new 10.9-inch infotainment system with embedded SIM and internet connectivity. USB-C data ports and a wireless phone charger are now also standard along with an enlarged remote control tablet for rear seat passengers and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity.

The navigation system has also been updated to help achieve maximum efficiency from the hybrid drivetrain by using data to control drive modes according to the route. Bentley says that the new hybrid has a combined petrol-electric range of 536 miles.

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As in the first-generation Bentayga, the new plug-in hybrid uses a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and a 94kW E Motor for a combined output of 443bhp and 516lb ft. Performance figures have not yet been confirmed but are expected to be similar to the previous model’s 5.2-scond 0-62mph time and 158mph top speed. Economy and emissions are also likely to be close to the older car’s figures 80.7mpg and 79g/km.

A 17.3kWh battery offers an official EV-only range of 31 miles and will charge from zero to 100 per cent in as little as two and a half hours via rapid charging. Owners can opt for a free Bentley branded wallbox to keep their Bentayga charged at home.

Multiple drive modes allow the driver to switch manually between all-electric, hybrid or the hold mode to conserve battery power for later use, or allow the car to determine the best mode for the situation.

Among the innovations in the Bentayga Hybrid is a haptic feedback throttle which features a pressure point to denote when the system will switch from pure EV to hybrid mode. It also vibrates as the car approaches junctions or lower speed limits to encourage the driver to lift off the throttle and maximise energy recuperation.

The Bentayga is one of nine new models slated for this year. It will be joined by the PHEV version of the new Flying Spur and help pave the way for Benltey’s ambitions for a fully electrified model range by 2030.

The new model comes just as Bentley announces its best-ever year for sales.

Headed by the Bentayga, which accounted for 37 per cent of all new Bentleys sold in 2020, the brand enjoyed record sales of 11,206 vehicles.

The two per cent increase over 2019’s figures came despite the impact of the Covid pandemic, which shut down production completely for seven weeks, reduced capacity by 50 per cent for another nine weeks and saw dealerships closed for months.

Adrian Hallmark, chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors, said: ““Even though we anticipated greater sales before the pandemic struck, when you consider the level of restrictions around the world for the majority of the year, to achieve a record sales performance is a strong measure of our potential.

“As we look to the year ahead we remain cautiously optimistic as much remains uncertain. One thing that doesn’t is our commitment to progress, the first step of which is the launch of the Bentayga Hybrid. This is one of nine new models we will launch this year as we continue on our Beyond100 strategic path and our accelerated journey towards becoming a fully electrified car company by 2030.”