The rest of the Mulsanne's imposing profile retains many of the
expected Bentley touches, such as the long, sweeping bonnet, tall
roof line and distinctive D pillars, yet the car also boasts elegant
contemporary lines that set it apart from anything else on the road.
It isn't exactly a compact car either. At just under 5.6m long, it’s
around 350mm longer than Jaguar’s long-wheelbase XJ, and large
even by Bentley’s own standards. Compared with its predecessor,
the Arnage, it’s almost 200mm longer, although it has an identical
claimed weight of 2585kg.
The clever design of the Mulsanne’s body allows for some of that
weightless growth. Sitting on a steel monocoque, it features
lightweight superformed aluminium doors and front wings, a
technique borrowed from the aerospace industry. However, despite
the cutting-edge technology, some areas remain very distinctly
traditional. The D-pillars, for instance, are so complex, they are
created by coachbuilders in much the same way that the great
Bentleys of old were constructed.
It's attention to detail like this that makes driving a Bentley, or even
riding in one, a truly unforgettable experience. With that in mind,
it's high time to take a close look inside the Mulsanne.
It takes over 172 hours to craft the interior of each Mulsanne, and
nothing is overlooked. Take a look at the centre console.
Underneath an eight-inch satellite navigation screen that, at the
touch of a button, slides almost silently from behind a veneered
door, you’ll find an incredibly discreet iPod connector. Completely
concealed in a leather-lined, chrome-edged drawer, it’s a perfect
example of the Mulsanne's intent: to deliver the very latest
technology, and last word in comfort, to the Bentley owner in a
rich, elegant and unmatched style.
Leather of the highest quality (in a selection of 24 colours), beautiful
metals and a choice of 9 different wood veneers in the cabin create
an atmosphere that goes beyond sumptuousness and achieves an
air of real warmth. Some limousines may come close to the
Mulsanne’s spaciousness and specification, but no other produces
the same air of relaxed, informal luxury for passenger and driver
alike.
Behind the wheel, the driving seat is comfortable and supportive,
adjusting in 12 directions for the perfect position. A fairly large
steering wheel, with a beautifully tactile veneer rim, also adjusts
easily to suit your driving style.
The fascia in front of you is just stunning. The dashboard, crafted
from one seamless piece of glossy wood, is surrounded on all sides
by soft leather and highlighted by polished stainless steel fittings.
In a tasteful throwback to the 50s, Bentley's organ-stop ventilation
controls are present and correct.
The luxury of the rear cabin is just as impressive. Passengers sit
comfortably in the eight-way adjustable heated seats, which are
fitted as standard, and provide a maximum of 1050mm of legroom
and 940mm of headroom. That's more space than any competitor
can manage – if, of course, you consider that the Mulsanne actually
has any competition.
At this point though, let's return to the driver's seat. Historically
Bentleys have always been about driving, rather than being the
passenger, cossetted in the rear, (although the Mulsanne does that
beautifully too!).
Having done a little reading up beforehand, I had an idea of what
to expect and already it sounded good, the Mulsanne’s powertrain
being a totally refreshed version of Bentley’s already impressive
6.75-
litre twin-turbocharged V8, now producing 505bhp and 752lb
ft of torque. Other engines were considered, Bentley says, but
dismissed because they wouldn’t produce the effortless low-rev
torque that owners of grand Bentleys expect. And, let's face it, who
doesn't love effortless low-rev torque?
That engine is partnered with the most advanced eight-speed
automatic gearbox from specialist ZF. Using this in the Mulsanne