REVIEW: GRAHAM COURTNEY
I’ve been having some top class entertainment over the past week or so. I’ve had the latest Bentley Mulsanne.
The fun got underway when a wagon arrived to deliver the Mulsanne. I assumed the driver would be a tad embarrassed by the steadily increasing group of bystanders who stopped to watch the car being unloaded. He wasn’t bothered; I guess he’s used to it. Mulsanne today, Bentayga yesterday, Continental tomorrow.
A British Racing Green leather folder is flourished and my signature is requested. I did it in my best handwriting.
And that was a hint of what the Bentley experience is all about; quality, attention to detail and the feeling that what you are about to receive is something rather special.
The first thing you notice is the sheer size of the car. It’s slightly bigger than my first house. It’s a shade over 5.5 metres long and approaching 2.0 metres in width. If you’ve never driven a car of this size, it can all feel rather unnerving to start with. However, once you get a few miles under your belt, it’s actually an easy car to punt around town. The long bonnet stretches out in front of you and, near as damn it, the edges of the bonnet are roughly the edge of the car. There’s very little overhang in front of the 21 inch front wheels so the big Bentley is simple to place on the road.
There are three versions available. There’s the Mulsanne in normal or long wheelbase and there’s the one we had, the Speed version which is more driver focussed. The previous two, especially the long wheelbase model, are aimed at folk who prefer to be driven. They don’t know what they’re missing.
All models are powered by the same twin turbocharged 6752cc V8 petrol engine although the Speed version adds 25bhp to the other cars 505bhp. Power goes to the rear wheels via a silky smooth 8-speed automatic ‘box. 0-60mph in the Speed takes a staggering 4.9 seconds….staggering because this car has a gross weight north of three tonnes. Top speed is 190mph. We may as well get this bit out of the way…..you’ll manage around 28mpg if you’re on a long steady cruise which isn’t bad actually, but realistically you’ll be hovering around top teens. To help with economy, when you ease off, the engine management system shuts down four cylinders so that, in effect, your speed is maintained by a V4. Needless to say that with CO2 emissions of 350g/km, servicing, mpg and initial purchase price of £257,100 it means that motoring around in a Bentley Mulsanne is going to be restricted to those with deep pockets or a very friendly company accountant.
Once you get used to the exterior dimensions, the Mulsanne is terrific to drive. The Speed version comes with fully automatic air suspension. This means you soak up lumps and bumps around town and then, when you hit the quicker stuff, the suspension actually lowers slightly to help with cornering stability. The Speed is the driver-focussed Mulsanne which is actually the car’s trump card. Too many big cars feel cumbersome and don’t really encourage you to push on. That’s not the case with the Bentley Mulsanne Speed. It is a true driver’s car. Put the chauffer in the back.
As for the interior, I shan’t list what you get as standard because you get everything you would expect in a car of this type and price. All you need to know is that when you climb into the driver’s seat of the Bentley Mulsanne Speed, you are in for a visual treat. The quilted leather seats are not only fantastic to sit on, they’re also wonderful to look at. The dials are slightly retro. The switchgear has a lovely cushioned feel to them. The build quality is peerless. The exterior has some dark tints to ensure that the Speed looks a tad more menacing than the other Mulsanne models,
The options list is where you can have some fun and let your imagination run wild. In terms of personalisation options for example there are over 100 exterior colours, 11 veneers, 24 hide colours and 13 duo-tone options. Why not have a refrigerated bottle cooler with frosted glass and bespoke crystal champagne flutes. They’re hidden behind the centre rear armrest. Pull down the armrest, press a button and the glass door slides down to reveal your bottles and glasses. Or why not press a button on the front seat backs to deploy a pair of 10.4” entertainment tablets.
And it’s handcrafted in Crewe.
As luxury driver’s cars go, the Bentley Mulsanne Speed is utterly fantastic. If you prefer to sit in the front rather than be driven in the back, it’s the one to go for.