If you happen to fancy the Bentley Bentayga, you’d be a fool to pass up on Mulliner’s newest 22-inch carbon-fiber wheels. Of course, you might say, “my Mustang Shelby GT500 has carbon-fiber wheels, so what’s the big deal?” As it turns out, Bentley and Mulliner’s newest carbon-fiber wheels are the first composite wheels to pass all rigorous TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverei – Technical Inspection Association) standards.
Bentley claims its latest carbon rims “have undergone the most rigorous testing for non-metallic wheels,” including tire overpressure, biaxial stress testing, and radial/lateral impact testing, the latter simulating driving over deep potholes and cobblestones. In addition, the 22-inch wheels exceeded the permitted limits in TÜV’s demanding torque tests.
Developed in partnership with carbon fiber specialists Bucci Composites, the Bentayga’s 22-inch carbon-fiber wheels took five years to complete. The patented construction process (RTM or Resin Transfer Molding technology) involves cutting cloths of carbon fiber into custom shapes, stacking and heating the segments into a mold, and pre-forming each wheel in a more extensive pattern before injecting the resin and hardener.
The benefits of Bentley’s carbon fiber wheels are aplenty. Each wheel is 6 kg lighter (13.2 pounds) than an aluminum rim of the same size for starters, and this pays dividends in braking, acceleration, and ride quality. Reducing the unsprung mass in a 6,000-pound Bentley Bentayga is one thing, but how will the wheels cope with bone-jarring impacts?
It will cope nicely, we assume, since the wheels passed TÜV’s excruciating impact test. It’s safer, too, since a severe impact will not shatter or crack the wheel. Thanks to what Bentley calls an “intelligent layering of fiber weaves” that pull apart to allow gradual air loss, you can stop the vehicle safely after assaulting a pothole, with no instant deflation like in an aluminum wheel.
It doesn’t stop there. The stiffer construction means the rims will not bend under intense heat and pressure, allowing the tire to maintain a consistent contact patch. It also means reduced tire wear and better stability when driving aggressively.
Best of all, the new carbon wheels look smashing when paired with the Styling Specification package, adding a bevy of carbon fiber go-fast body kits like a front splitter, side sill extensions, and a rear diffuser. Bentley has yet to reveal how much it costs, but you can start ordering the Bentayga with 22-inch carbon-fiber wheels near the end of 2021.