For the latest model year, Bentley has split the Mulsanne lineup into three distinct models named Mulsanne, Mulsanne Speed, and Mulsanne Extended-Wheelbase. All three variants receive a facelift.
The style of the Mulsanne is a unique fusion of sportiness, coach-built elegance and solidity. Echoing the Bentley S -Type of the 1950s, the Mulsanne features a bold frontal design dominated by the traditional Bentley matrix grille and highly prominent, classic round inner headlamps with chrome surrounds, flanked by two, smaller outboard lamp clusters, all featuring the latest in lighting technology. The iconic 'Flying B' retractable radiator mascot is available as an option.
The long bonnet, short front overhang and long rear overhang help to convey a sense of power and movement, reinforced by muscular haunches and sharply sculptured lines which flow gracefully from the front wings to the rear. Uniquely designed 20-inch (and optional 21-inch) wheels reinforce the Mulsanne's powerful, sporting stance.
Power to Spare
Of course it wouldn't be a Bentley if it didn't also offer an equally impressive and powerful engine: enter the 6.75-liter V8. Sharing its displacement and minor components with the legendary and historic "six-and-three-quarters" eight-cylinder used in previous Bentley models, the engine otherwise is totally revised for more power and improved fuel economy. The pushrod mill also features two new control systems: cam phasing and, a first for the ultra-luxury sector, a variable displacement setup that can effectively turn the V8 into a four-cylinder to save fuel during light-throttle cruising situations.
The big motor is capable of producing a prodigious 505 horsepower and 752 lb-ft of torque. It is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. Despite the fuel saving measures, the Bentley's firepower and mass can't cheat physics, and fuel economy checks in at 11 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.
An air suspension system with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) creates a refined and comfortable ride at lower speeds, yet can reduce the Mulsanne's ride height automatically at high speeds to reduce lift and improve aerodynamic stability.
Craftsmanship and Technology Inside
The Mulsanne's cabin offers both old-world opulence and the latest in technology features. It takes over 90 hours to complete, and is finished in high-quality mirror-matched wood veneers, leather hides and hand-finished stainless steel, as well as new touches such as beautiful 'glass' switches.
The upper dashboard houses an 8-inch multimedia screen, positioned unobtrusively behind an electrically operated veneered door, while below sits a stylish, leather-lined media player stowage drawer with connectors for iPod, USB, Mini USB and 3.5mm aux input.
A 14-speaker audio system with Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and 6-CD autochanger is provided as standard while the Naim for Bentley premium audio system may be specified as an option. This forging of two British luxury brands provides customers with the world's most powerful production in-car amplifier with 2200 Watts, eight dedicated DSP modes and 20 custom-made speakers.
A personalized keyless entry system allows multiple pre-programmed configurations and automatically sets radio stations, phone book, seat (including ventilation and massage modes, both front and rear), steering column and seatbelt settings and even the electrically operated rear-seat blinds for side and rear windows.
The keyless system also operates with the chrome door handles which incorporate touch points to initiate communication with the key for verification and entry. The Mulsanne also features keyless start.
Buyers seeking the full Bentley ownership experience can order an optional range of bespoke luggage pieces by Italian luggage specialists Schedoni.
As its name implies, the Mulsanne Speed is a performance-focused variant of the ultra-luxurious Mulsanne sedan.
The Mulsanne Speed is powered by an evolution of the Mulsanne's 6¾-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces 530 horsepower and a prodigious 811 lb-ft. of torque from just 1,750 rpm. Linked to a ZF-built eight-speed automatic transmission, the eight-cylinder sends the 5,900-pound behemoth from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 190 mph.
Bentley has fitted the Mulsanne Speed with a cylinder deactivation system that turns the mighty V8 into a V4 when extra power is not needed. The setup helps the Mulsanne Speed return 13-percent better fuel economy than the stock Mulsanne. To put that figure into perspective, the Mulsanne Speed's driving range has been extended by 50 miles.
A new Sport mode for the air suspension helps the driver exploit the eight-cylinder's full potential by keeping body roll in check. Selecting the Sport mode also makes the steering more responsive in order to provide a more driver-focused handling. On the other end of the spectrum, buyers looking for a more relaxed ride can select either the Bentley or the Comfort mode.
Visually, the Mulsanne Speed stands out from a stock Mulsanne thanks to a darker radiator grille, model-specific headlights and blacked out tail lamps. The sedan comes standard with 21-inch directional style wheels, meaning the wheels that go on the right and the left side of the car are different, and it inaugurates four new colors including one called Spectre that Bentley explains is inspired by reptilian skin.
The Mulsanne Speed comes standard with all of the features included in the Mulliner Driving Specification package.
As the flagship of Bentley's lineup, the Mulsanne competes against prestigious fulls-size ultra-luxury sedans like the Rolls-Royce Phantom, while the Aston Martin Rapide S is also an option for those willing to trade some cabin space for achingly beautiful styling.