Bentley Bentayga Hybrid heralds first step in Bentley's electrification programme

Bentley's first electrified car, the Bentayga Hybrid SUV, is now available for purchase across Europe. It is the first plug-in hybrid in its ultra-niche 'luxury SUV' sector, and more importantly, it represents the first vehicle launched as part of Bentley's electrification programme in this, the brand's centenary year.

Of course, the Bentayga doesn't really have many rivals even with conventional power. There's the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and... well we draw a blank there. But regardless, it certainly doesn't hurt to be the first in whatever niche a car sits. Moreover, the Bentayga Hybrid sets a precedent and leads the way in a programme that will see an electrified version of every Bentley nameplate by 2023. Rolls-Royce will inevitably follow with more than a smattering of BMW hardware – in time.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid powertrain

The Bentayga shares a good proportion of its propulsion system with the Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid. This is good news as Bentley hasn't actually confirmed all of the specifics of the powertrain, so we'll have to assume that they're very similar, if not exactly the same as the Porsche.

This means that up front the Bentayga Hybrid gets a 3.0-litre, turbocharged V6 which, according to Bentley, incorporates the latest technologies to optimise efficiency and performance. Mated to this is a permanent magnet synchronous E motor which is good for 126bhp and 295lb-ft of torque. As well as being a drive unit, the E motor also helps fill in the gaps when the V6s turbos are spooling up. 

Combined, the total system torque figure is a healthy 516lb-ft and though we don't know the finalised power, it'll be in the region of the Cayenne's 456bhp. The Bentayga will hit 62mph in 5.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 158mph.

Storing the power is a 17.3kWh battery which, on the WLTP cycle offers enough juice for 24.2 emissions-free miles and can be charged in 2.5 hours at the appropriate input. Add in the petrol engine and the total range of the car in a best-case scenario is 464 miles. The emissions and combined miles per gallon look pretty good on paper at 79g/km and 80.7mpg respectively.

Hand-built, luxury touring

Each Bentley Bentayga Hybrid is hand-built at the company's HQ in Crewe and takes a total of 130 hours. As you'd expect from the brand, the interior is luxurious to say the least – offering what we can only assume is a rather nice place to sit while efficiently slugging it across a continent. Naturally, customers can customise their own car to the hilt.

The Bentayga's sat-nav has been designed specifically to maximise the efficiency of the car through the best use of its zero-emissions capability. When a journey is entered into the system, the optimum combination of electric and petrol power will be calculated to minimise the fuel use. In addition, using the car's current position, the sat-nav will update the maximum available electric range live.

Three driving modes cater for different situations. In EV Drive mode, the car only uses the electric motor for drive. In hybrid mode the car uses the navigation system to optimise power usage from the battery and the petrol engine, giving maximum efficiency and range. In Hold mode the use of engine and electric power is balanced to maintain electric range for later use – for example on arriving in a city. In all modes energy is recovered to the battery through regeneration during deceleration.

If you've got £133,100 knocking about and want an uber-luxury hybrid SUV, the Bentley Bentayga is the clear favourite – broadly because it's the only car in its sector. You won't have to wait too long, either, as customer deliveries will start in October.

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