Bentley Mulsanne: Road test review
The Mulsanne is a monumental car for Bentley, as it is the first bespoke model from the British luxury car manufacturer in 80 years.
So, when I was given the chance to spend a week with this £269,110 (of which £43,210 was options) car from Crewe, I was keen to see if the Mulsanne could be the ultimate luxury saloon.
On first look, the exterior styling of the latest Mulsanne is elegant rather than pretty. The biggest opinion divider has to be the front styling. Of course there's the iconic, imposing grille and Bentley badge but you'll either love or hate the huge head and sidelights.
A design feature of modern Bentley models, the face-lifted Continental GT has similarly over-sized lights.
There's a defined swage line that runs along the side, from nose to tail. Along with a lower cut out, there is proper chrome detailing for the bottom of the doors and a chrome air intake at the bottom of the front wing.
The neatest parts of the design are at the back, where the Bentley's rear quarters seem to fold into the rear screen and the twin flat exhausts.
The real beauty of the Mulsanne is in the interior, where traditional Bentley opulence meets 21st-century technology in harmony. This could be the most luxurious interior of any car I've ever driven. Few other manufacturers manage to mix wooden veneers and leather hides so well.
The new technology which includes the latest Volkswagen Group sat-nav and a 2,200-watt 20-speaker Naim audio system, is also well integrated into the classic feel to the interior.
Nice touches include the way the sat-nav screen appears from behind a wood panel on the dash and a tray to connect and hide your iPod. Talking of the panels, if there's a shortage of veneer in the world it is probably because it's all inside this Bentley.
The Naim sound system has to be the best I've tried. The most powerful set up fitted to a production car, it has plenty of low end bass and top end treble.
Inside, the driving position is good and the tall seats really comfortable. However, the windscreen pillars are thick, the unusual anti-clockwise dials are hard to read at first and it is a shame that the other auxiliary gauges in the centre console are out of the driver's line of sight.
The centre console is a bit button-heavy too, but the glass-like buttons are tactile and high quality.
It might be based on a 50-year-old design, but with 505bhp, 752lbft of torque, a 0-60mph time of just 5.3 seconds and a licence-losing top speed of 184mph, the 6.75-litre, twin-turbo V8 in the Mulsanne is no slouch.
Just don't mention the Combined fuel consumption of 16.8mpg (I saw this drop to 9.7mpg in traffic!), or the C02 emissions of 393g/km. Still I'd doubt these figures will bother the type of buyer of this car.
It might weigh 2745kg (despite the composite boot), but speed grows surprisingly quickly in the Bentley. The Mulsanne feels at its most dynamic in the sport mode, but if this doesn't work for you there are three other positions for the Bentley's Driver Dynamics Control system.
The Mulsanne could sound better though, but is this because the interior is so well insulated?
Show the Bentley a corner and there is some body roll, but there's loads of grip that gives you confidence to push a car weighing over 2 tonnes harder than you'd expect. The steering is responsive too.
Shame then, that even in the softest Comfort suspension, the ride on these optional 21-inch alloy wheels isn't as silky smooth as you might expect. I think that the Rolls Royce Phantom is probably a more relaxing limousine.
So, is it the ultimate luxury saloon? Well, almost. It is a great drive and has possibly the most luxurious interior of any production car I've driven. However, the styling won't appeal to all and the ride should be super smooth but isn't.
Still, it is a Bentley after all and there is really nothing else like it. If I had the money and a long driveway (it is a substantial car) I'd still be sorely tempted.