2022 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid First Drive: Not a Typical Hybrid SUV
Let’s be honest: If you are passionate about saving the planet, you probably won’t drive a 5,850-pound luxury SUV. In that context, it’s easy to dismiss the 2022 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid as little more than a $190,000 exercise in greenwashing the storied British marque and its wealthy clientele. However, the Bentayga Hybrid previews a Bentley lineup that will be entirely hybridized by 2025, and fully electric by 2030.
What It Is
The Hybrid is the third updated Bentayga model to appear since late 2020, joining the 542-hp V8 and the 627-hp 12-cylinder Speed. Under the hood is the same hybrid powertrain that powered the first generation Bentayga Hybrid launched in 2019. It’s a 335-hp, 332-lb-ft single-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 enhanced by a 126-hp, 258-lb-ft permanent-magnet synchronous motor mounted between the block and the eight-speed automatic transmission. Total system output is 443 hp and 516 lb-ft.
While visually identical to the V8 and Speed—a small “Hybrid” badge on the lower front doors and a charge-port flap on the left-rear quarter panel are the only exterior giveaways to what’s under the hood—the hybrid powertrain required significant changes under the skin. The Hybrid’s 17.3-kWh battery, which weighs 463 pounds, is located beneath the rear load-space floor, behind the rear axle. This means the 2022 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid is not available with the optional third-row seat.
Other things you can’t get with the Bentayga Hybrid include a tow hitch, power side steps, Bentley’s 48V active anti-roll system, and the All-Terrain Specification package which adds off-road drive modes and underbody protection. Few buyers will care, however: Bentley’s experience with the previous generation model says that while more than 90 percent of owners use their Bentayga Hybrids nearly every day, half drive them predominantly in EV mode on journeys of 30 miles or less.
How Does It Drive?
That’s why the 2022 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid’s default start mode is EV Drive, one of three E Drive modes actuated via the controller on the center console. With a usable capacity of 13.3 kWh, the battery delivers an EV range of 18-31 miles, the e-motor able to propel the big SUV at speeds of up to 84 mph. Mild haptic feedback through the accelerator discourages the driver from putting too much pressure on the pedal and firing up the internal combustion engine. Using predictive data from nav system, the pedal will also vibrate underfoot when approaching a lower speed limit area or a road junction to encourage the driver to lift off and conserve energy.
Hybrid mode allows the powertrain to mix and match the outputs of the gasoline engine and the motor to deliver the best efficiency. Hold mode maintains the battery’s existing charge level to allow for pure EV running at the end of a journey. The transitions between the electric and combustion drive are seamless, but there’s a graininess to the V-6 from 2,500-3,000 rpm that’s at odds with the Bentayga Hybrid’s otherwise quiet progress. At 70 mph in eighth gear, the engine turns just 1,800 rpm.
As our drive program showed, Hybrid mode works brilliantly in conjunction with the intelligent nav system. It carefully meters out dollops of power and torque from the motor to help the little V-6, one of the smallest engines ever fitted to a Bentley, keep the Bentayga moving as efficiently as possible. We arrived at the end of our 55-mile drive loop precisely as the indicated range remaining in the battery dropped to zero, the trip computer showing the big Hybrid had averaged 36 mpg.
Though the Hybrid doesn’t get the excellent 48V active anti-roll system available on other Bentaygas, it handles corners better than expected when you do take it outside the ‘burbs. The heavy battery behind the rear axle helps deliver a 50.4 percent/49.6 percent front/rear weight distribution, compared with Bentayga V8’s 56.4/43.6. As a result, the Hybrid feels a touch more responsive than the V8 to steering inputs, and it doesn’t work its front tires as hard through twisty bits.
Though it can’t match the V8’s 4.4-second 0-60-mph acceleration time or its 180-mph top speed, the 2022 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid is not exactly slow. The 0-60 sprint reportedly takes 5.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 158 mph. But the V8’s still the better choice for the discerning driver, not least because it’s more than 500 pounds lighter and, despite the terrific instant-on torque fill from the Hybrid’s electric motor, the 542-hp, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 is a more engaging powerplant to work with.
What’s more, the battery’s benefits diminish the longer you drive, of course. Which is why the Bentayga Hybrid’s 46mpg-e EPA rating quickly heads toward the 19-mpg combined mark when the battery is drained and the little V-6 is left to do all the work on its own. That’s just a single mile per gallon better than the Bentayga V8, by the way.
Bentleys have long been cars for rapidly crossing continents in refined luxury. The 2022 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid will do its best work wafting silently on electric power through Beverly Hills or the Hamptons en route to lunch at a toney restaurant. It’s the Bentley for those who never need to leave town.
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