Bentley Bentayga

Bentley’s first SUV mates a twin-charged W12 gasoline engine with a 48V electronic/electric architecture to offer better chassis control

Chassis challenges

The team did consider other powertrain configurations, although Guest doesn’t divulge what they were, but they were quickly put to one side as Bentley wanted to position the Bentayga at the very top of the market.

Performance criteria were perhaps easily achieved owing to the engine choice, and it was chassis technologies that proved more difficult, especially considering the driveability targets.

The basic chassis set-up of the Bentayga is front double wishbones and a multilink system at the rear, but the vehicle also employs a 48V electronic/electric architecture on top of the traditional 12V network to power active anti-roll bars at both the front and rear.

“The 12V system wasn’t powerful enough to drive the active anti-roll bars,” says Guest.

The 48V system, supplied by Schaeffler, uses a dedicated control unit that detects wheel inputs and adjusts the position of the electric rotary actuators in the front and rear anti-roll bars, helping reduce body roll during cornering, but also increasing individual wheel articulation when off-road or on uneven road surfaces.

Off-road credentials

Within the Volkswagen Group, the high-performance variant of Audi’s largest SUV, the Q7, also employs the same system, but takes it one step further by using the 48V architecture to power an electric compressor on its twin-charged V8 diesel, to fill in torque gaps. And it isn’t beyond reason to see Bentley taking the same approach on future variants of the Bentayga.

Bentley’s approach has also been useful to help the SUV meet the off-road criteria the development team set. And even though during customer clinics most people said they would never take the vehicle off-road, it still had to perform for the few that would. That is why maximum suspension travel is 225mm, ground clearance is 245mm and the vehicle has a maximum wading depth of 500mm. Underneath the fuel tank is protected by a pair of composite reinforced shields, while the engine bay is covered by a composite reinforced undersheet with a metal engine sump guard.

“We looked at the environments that were most important, so sand, gravel tracks and wet grass,” says Guest. “We defined these scenarios and then benchmarked as many cars as we could, and the obvious car in this regard is the Range Rover.”

tags: June 2016 Bentley Hybrids & EVs Powertrain