By Nick Jones
I have driven many Bentleys in the past but this one – the new Mulsanne – was the largest and most expensive of which I ever had the pleasure of spending time behind the wheel.
It’s a car in which old-style class meets the modern era.
It has to deliver for the Crewe-based firm as they have their once-sister-company Rolls-Royce breathing down their necks in the fight for the ultimate super luxury saloon title.
My favourite Bentley has to be the Continental GTC – a blend of power, poise and sophistication in just the one car.
But the new Mulsanne, takes things a step further and creates a bespoke car for the individual but with vital appeal to a wider market which is essential for the continued success of the iconic brand.
They designers were given a blank sheet of paper and the task of producing a classic Bentley that would be one very, very special motor car.
And that’s exactly what they came up with.
As it arrived on my drive, first signs were good; I was alerted by that familiar rumble (or burble) of the mighty 500bhp engine and so as the quality. In copious amounts.
It is one of only a handful of cars that has over 1000Nm of torque under the right brogue, which is even more than any other Bentley has offered.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox that has paddle shifts should you not want to be lazy. For a car weighing in at just under what a small block of flats weighs it hits 60mph in just over five seconds, and has a theoretical top speed of 185mph.
In a straight line and under a heavy right foot pressing into the Wilton carpet, it fairly whistles to astonishing speed with little or no fuss – indeed, one has to constantly look at the speedo to make sure you’re well within the speed limits and your own limits.
And on the tight, twisty stuff the Bentley really comes into its own despite it being over 18ft long and weighing in at well over two and a half tons. That’s the mark of pedigree and heritage that one of the most famous names brings from its numerous outings and successes at Le Mans.
Credit here has to go to the Mulsanne’s new electronically-controlled air-suspension set up which reduces the cars ride height at speed and stiffens the dampers within the parameters set by the Drive Dynamics Control. You can select Sport or Comfort modes depending upon where you may be heading and for what purpose.
It goes without saying this is the height of luxury in here.
Spending close-on £250,000 you’d expect to be wrapped in something special and you are – multiplied by ten.
The overwhelming rich leather smell is intoxicating as it is beautiful with its hand stitching and fine detail.
A highlight for me is the ring of wood that encircles the whole cabin with a single unbroken panel of veneer that is prepared for nearly six week’s to lift an amazing cabin ambience further still.
Stainless steel vents gleam at you and have been polished for hours on end.
The steering wheel has been hand stitched for over 12 hours… the list goes on and on.
Here’s an interesting stat concerning the Mulsanne should you choose to buy one – it takes nearly 500 man-hours and 12 weeks from order to build your car from scratch, well over a third of that time just on the interior.
No words can ever come close to say how good this car really is, I don’t have the superlatives. But at the price of a four-bedroom detached house with a double garage, the Mulsanne needs to be a car with a firm statement and sense of occasion – and it does that by the bucket load.
A Bentley for the modern era? Absolutely