The essence of super luxury vehicles is exclusivity, which is why everyone desires them. However, due to the high cost of these handcrafted machines, only a select few can collect them.
Nevertheless, it appears that in the post-COVID era, few people can afford such vehicles, as every luxury automaker reported record sales in CY22.
These records do not just apply to the luxury car market but also the super luxury segment. Bentley, for example, sold more than 15,174 units globally in CY22, a 4% increase over the previous calendar year and the best to date.
The British luxury vehicle has experienced the same effect in India. In an interview with Mobility Outlook, Satya Bagla, Managing Director, Exclusive Motors, stated that the company has always had very good years since the pandemic.
While the supply chain issue initially hampered growth, he noted that customer demand remained strong. Bagla explained that wealth has always existed in the country. 'Post COVID, I see a lot of people wanting to reward themselves with some unique proposition,' he added.
“As the economy improves, more millionaires and billionaires are created in India, and many of the first generation wealthy and younger customers desire unique and exclusive automobiles,” the Exclusive Motors head explained.
With increased vehicle demand, Bentley is also seeing a shift in customer demographics. During the conversation, it was learned that many of Bentley's new customers in India are from Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. Bagla explained that as the demand for luxury vehicles rises in these cities, so will the demand for super luxury vehicles. He stated that these luxury vehicle owners intend to graduate to the super luxury segment within a few years of ownership due to their aspirations.
Currently, the carmaker caters to the demand from these cities through its three dealerships in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, while the plan is to add more dealerships as and when more cars are allocated to India, the Exclusive Motors chief added.
Furthermore, as demand rises, the marque brand is witnessing a shift in the average customer age. Along with the traditional buyer, the super luxury carmaker is seeing a lot of young customers, particularly because the brand's current portfolio is also very young, with an average age of four years.
Interestingly, with the new age customers, the company’s only SUV, the Bentayga, has been the most sought-after model, Bagla noted. In fact, out of the 15,174 units that the company sold globally, 42% of the sales came through the SUV.
In this view, the company updated the SUV within five years of its debut. In the new form, besides catering to the increased demand, the Bentayga also has to fill in the void left with the Mulsanne out of production.
The newly updated model made it to India at INR6 crore in the EWB (Extended Wheelbase) shape. The EWB stretched 180mm longer than the standard model to accommodate more legroom for the rear cabin.
Interestingly over 2500 new parts have been introduced to produce the Bentayga EWB, including significant body-in-white changes and a completely new underfloor. This has led to new manufacturing processes, layout changes and infrastructure, especially for the new model.
With a special focus on the passenger side, the SUV comes with a 4 + 1 seating configuration featuring the new Bentley airline seat which also gives way to a 40-degree reclining facility. In addition, these seats get 22 ways of adjusting, including an auto climate sensing system and postural adjusting technology.
The auto climate seat technology senses occupant temperature and surface humidity and then determines whether to simultaneously apply heat, ventilation, or both to keep the occupant at optimum thermal well-being. Meanwhile, the postural adjustment system automatically adjusts the occupants’ seating position and pressure points by measuring pressure across the seat surface.
In addition to this, the cabin is completely done with soft-touch materials, mostly quilted leather, to elevate the luxury plushness. The company says that to achieve a softer panel, a finer thread (usually found in its embroidered logos) and a small micro-stitch (half the length of its standard stitch) has been used. This change of thread and innovation of manufacturing processes has created a more accentuated, softly lofted quilting.
Customers can, however, choose from an infinite number of customisation options to make their vehicle unique and luxurious in their own way. Bagla stated that the entire options list is available to every customer, and if a customer has absolutely special requirements, given that it is legally possible, the carmaker will provide such customisation with both its in-house team and the Mulliner team.
Besides focusing on interior comfort, the company has made several changes to the vehicle's mechanics to offer the plushest ride possible. To start with, it gets Bentley dynamic ride, the 48 V active anti-roll control system as standard.
It also gets electronic all-wheel steering, which first debuted with the third-generation Flying Spur. At fast highway speeds, the system makes a small adjustment to the direction of the travel of the rear wheels in tandem with the direct steering inputs from the driver to the front wheels. This increases high-speed stability enabling overtaking and lane changing to be more assured, besides improving handling when driving through sweeping bends.
While at low speeds, the all-wheel steering reduces the turning circle, and increases agility in tight urban environments, making parking noticeably easier. This is achieved by steering the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels. The system provides a turning circle smaller than a standard wheelbase Bentayga by7%. This also ensures that the Bentayga retains the true Bentley heritage of being comfortable while also being dynamically sharp.
Speaking of performance, the SUV gets powered by a 4-litre, 32-valve dual twin-scroll turbocharged V8 petrol engine mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, developing 550 PS and 770 Nm of torque. The SUV can reach a claimed top speed of 290 kmph and sprint from zero to 100 kmph in 4.6 seconds.
Besides the standard EWB variant, it was announced that two enhanced variants of the same model – Azure and 1st Edition, will be available.
The Azure offers a unique 22-inch 10-spoke directional wheel, bright lower bumper grilles, Azure embroidery and badging. Additional features include unique quilted seats, mood lighting, a heated steering wheel, and increased driver assistance aids.
The top-of-the-line 1st edition gets Bentley diamond illumination, metal overlays in the veneerpremium audio, LED welcome labs, and unique embroidery, inlays and badging.