Bentley Mulsanne: An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

Bentley once again shows the competition how to combine brute power with luxurious refinement.

By Ghaith Madadha

Representing both the sporting and high luxury sides of Bentley’s heritage, the Mulsanne Speed is the more powerful version of the British brand’s flagship model. Recalling Bentley’s five Le Mans race victories, the Mulsanne is named after Le Mans’ high speed straight. It’s a direct successor to the formidable Arnage, with front-engine, rear-drive platform—rather than other models’ Volkswagen-Audi derived four-wheel-drive architecture.

The Mulsanne debuted in 2010, and the hand-built Speed version soon followed in 2014. The Mulsanne Speed, which is a full-sized uber-luxury saloon with a sporting flavor, sublimely captures Bentley’s ‘gentlemen racer’ persona and moves with manageable fluency, dynamic grace, and effortless pace that belie its luxury and vast size and weight.

The Mulsanne’s tapered boot and rear quarter design are clearly an evolution of its Arnage predecessor. Meanwhile defined bonnet edges and big headlights flanked by lower smaller outward lights recall the 1955-65 Continental.

The Mulsanne’s massive 5,575 mm long and 1,926 mm wide dimensions include an upright stately bonnet and grille with short front overhang and flowingly curved hips at the rear.

Darker tinted metallic brightware and grille, stainless steel tailpipes and side fender badges distinguish the Speed version along with 21-inch alloys and 265/40R21 tires, which are well-suited to its vast proportions. The Speed’s behemoth traditional 16-valve pushrod OHV 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is directly descended from an engine introduced in 1959 that has been continually developed for power, refinement, and efficiency to further gain 25 BHP.

Low-revving with 4,500 rev limit, the Mulsanne’s mighty engine develops 530 BHP at 4200 rpm, but is characterized by an indefatigably deep 811 lb/ft torque reservoir, peaking at 1,750 rpm. Squatting and digging heels into tarmac, the Mulsanne wells with irresistible force, launching its ample 2,685kg frame through the 0-100 km/h sprint in scant 4.9 seconds, and disdainfully onto a wind resistance defying 305 km/h top speed.

The Mulsanne is unperturbed and fluently supple over imperfect road textures. Driving rear wheels through a smooth and slick 8-speed gearbox, it effectively puts power down with grippy tires and subtle electronic traction interventions. Three automatic drive modes enhanced engine and gearbox responses, while manual gearbox mode adds more autonomy. Meanwhile, ‘comfort’ steering mode is more intuitive and natural, whereas ‘sport’ mode is weightier, but without an additional layer of feel or connection.

It is settled on rebound, becoming tauter and more buttoned down with less of a waft in ‘sport’ mode, but without altering its character or becoming overly stiff. Turning in tidily and balanced through corners, the Speed’s double wishbone and multi-link adaptive air suspension keep wheels in contact with tarmac and manage body roll after initial lean. Furthermore, it digs its heels by a corner’s apex and blasts out on an irrepressible wave of torque.

The Mulsanne’s airy and utterly luxuriously cabin ambiance is swathed in finest hand-crafted leathers, woods and metals, while featuring subtle sporting undertones and extensive personalization options. The driver sits perched high in highly adjustable, comfortable, and supportive seats with a commanding road view beyond the Mulsanne’s long bonnet. It is luxurious with old world flavors, including upright design, round chrome-ringed dials, vents and organ-stop controls, but is nonetheless generously well-equipped with modern convenience, infotainment, and safety features.

Bentley Mulsanne Speed

 

Specifications

Engine: 6.75-liter, 16-valve, OHV, twin-turbo V8-cylinders

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 537 (530) [395] @4200 rpm

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 811 (1100) @1750 rpm

0-100 km/h: 4.9 seconds

0-160 km/h: 11.1 seconds

Top speed: 305 km/h

Fuel economy: 14.6l/100 km

Length: 5575 mm

Width: 1926 mm

Height: 1521 mm

Track, F/R: 1605/1652mm

Weight: 2685 kg

Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones / multi-link, adaptive air springs

Tires: 265/40R21