Bentley Bentayga Hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||24 miles||81mpg||79g/km|
If there was any debate to be had over the direction the automotive industry is heading, the arrival of a plug-in hybrid Bentley surely ends the argument. This new Bentayga Hybrid effectively replaces the diesel model that was pulled from sale in 2018, giving the SUV eco credentials that aren’t usually a priority for buyers at this price point.
Still, a focus on reducing CO2 output and the emergence of low-emissions zones has forced Bentley to act. The firm doesn’t believe a battery-electric vehicle is the right solution for the time being, and as such it won’t make one until 2025. That said, it plans to electrify every model in its line-up by 2023, and the Bentayga is the first to undergo that process.
Featuring a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine producing 335bhp and an electric motor generating 126bhp, total system power amounts to 443bhp. Combined torque comes in at 700Nm, meaning the two-and-a-half tonne Bentayga Hybrid will do 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 158mph.
Meanwhile, a 17.3kWh battery delivers zero-emissions range of just under 25 miles. A full charge can be obtained from a domestic three-pin plug socket in 7.5 hours, a figure which falls to 2.5 hours with a dedicated wallbox charger.
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren't quite as impressive as those of less illustrious plug-in hybrids: the Bentayga can theoretically manage 81mpg and puts out 79g/km of CO2 – which is over the 75g/km threshold needed for exemption from the London Congestion Charge.
At least first-year road tax is guaranteed to be £120 or less (rising to £455 for years two to six, before dropping again to £135 annually thereafter), with fuel efficiency greatly superior to that achieved by the 6.0-litre W12 version.
There are seven driving modes to choose from: Sport, Bentley, Comfort and Custom will be familiar to existing Bentley owners, while EV, Hybrid and Hold are new additions.
EV mode sees the Bentley hybrid running on electric power only until the battery has depleted. Hybrid mode allows the car to automatically calculate the most efficient mix of engine and electric motor use, while Hold mode conserves battery power until the driver decides to switch modes manually.
The Bentayga Hybrid uses the technology to great effect, wafting along at low speeds in exactly the way you’d anticipate a big, luxurious SUV to. A 24-mile electric range isn’t groundbreaking, it has to be said, but if it’s enough to navigate the school run or a trip to the shops, the savings will add up over time.
Only when you stamp on the accelerator pedal does the engine come to life. Unfortunately, the coarseness of the V6 is one of the car’s biggest shortcomings, with the engine needing to be revved aggressively when getting up to motorway speeds.
The Bentayga Hybrid simply doesn’t deliver the kind of effortless performance you’d expect on faster roads, at least until you’ve settled into a steady cruise. The 22-inch wheels on our test car provided a smooth enough ride, although it could fare less well when let loose on the UK’s harsher asphalt.
Inside, there’s a mass of premium wood, metal and leather materials lining the interior, although the infotainment system and the buttons on the centre console are beginning to look dated, especially when compared to those on the Continental GT.
The underlying appeal of the Bentayga remains, however, and at £130,500 it’s a useful £6,400 cheaper than the 4.0-litre V8 pure-petrol version, with running costs likely to be much lower for those who plug it in regularly. That might just be enough to tempt buyers towards the Hybrid.