What is it?
Despite the impressive global success of the Bentley Bentayga since its launch in 2016, its maker has always been a bit concerned about the public reaction to the styling of its SUV flagship.
Much of the noise has melted away now that global sales have passed 20,000, but persistent voices have continued to criticise the Bentayga’s bulk and outline – even though this fastest-selling Bentley in history continues to dominate a class whose size has trebled in four years.
However, these days the health and strength of the opposition must also be closer to the front of Bentley's marketing minds. Crewe’s SUV has lately been joined by the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Lamborghini Urus – both counted as big successes by their makers – and the world market for top-end off-roaders has rapidly grown from 4000 units to more than 11,000, with the Aston Martin DBX now arriving to push it further. Small wonder Bentley has launched such a thorough collection of 2020 Bentayga updates, running to more than 1000 individual changes.
Fittingly, Bentley’s list of improvements starts on the outside, many of the details reflecting a new design era that arrived with the latest Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Flying Spur saloon. The grille more closely reflects their influence; it is bigger and more upright, the lights are lifted in the front wings and take on an exotic, elliptical shape, with Bentley’s signature cut-crystal design style even more prominent inside the glass cover.
At the rear there’s a cleaner, new-shape tailgate that allows a pleasantly uncluttered space for new elliptical tail-lights, whose shape is echoed in similarly shaped exhaust outlets. The numberplate looks much better in a new aperture in the lower bumper. Along the lower body sides are more prominent and stylish light catchers, and the rear roof spoiler is extended. Finally, the car’s stance has been adjusted so its new-design 22in wheels more fully fill the wheel arches, and there’s a 20mm increase in rear track that also benefits the Bentayga’s handling as we’ll see later.
The overall effect, according to exterior design boss JP Gregory, makes for a bolder machine with a more modern aspect that sits more comfortably on its large wheels. Bentaygas are big, but the proportions are now so good that from a distance you could almost call this machine compact.
There can’t be many original Bentayga owners who were critical of the model’s beautifully detailed interior, yet the changes for 2020 are considerable. The centre console’s edges have been extended into the cabin to improve looks and central carrying space, and two of Bentley’s trademark eyeball vents have been replaced by a new winged vent on top of the dash, inspired by the Bacalar concept and incorporating the analogue clock.