£231,485 - £290,470 Price range
The Mulsanne is Bentley’s range-topping luxury saloon that rivals the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Mercedes S-Class Maybach and Aston Martin Rapide S. It’s also likely to tempt buyers of luxurious SUV alternatives such as the Range Rover SVAutobiography and Bentley’s own Bentayga.
The Mulsanne was refreshed in 2016 getting subtly revised looks and an updated cabin.
There are three models in the range – the basic Mulsanne, the long-wheel base Mulsanne ELB and the performance-focused Mulsanne Speed.
Whichever you choose, all come with a lavish interior complete with industrial quantities of wood, leather and polished metal. The ELB’s has even more rear-seat room than the standard car, while the Mulsanne Speed comes with sportier seats and some carbon fibre trim inserts.
Beneath the long bonnet lies a 6.75-litre V8 that has been powering Bentleys since the 1950s. Now, with the help of two turbochargers, it produces a whopping 752 lb ft. Speed models up that to 811lb ft for prodigious overtaking ability.
The downside of having all that wood and leather is the sheer weight of the car – it’s better suited to covering huge motorway miles than cutting through twisting B roads.
The £200,000-plus Bentley comes with adaptive LED headlights, an infotainment system with internet access and 60GB of music storage plus a stereo system with 20 speakers and a power output to rival a small outdoor festival.
The interior is, as you’d expect, a perfect illustration of British craftsmanship and excess. It takes 150 hours to trim the seats by hand, and the attention to detail is astonishing –more than 5,000 stitches are required simply for the Bentley logo on each seat!
The dashboard is a bit button-heavy, but everything works beautifully, and the cabin provides you with a cocoon of leather, wood, and sheepskin that only a Rolls-Royce can compete with. Personalisation is key and you can choose from 140 exterior colours, 12 different veneers and 24 hide colours, so no two Mulsannes should be the same.
The upgraded infotainment system is touchscreen-based so it’s not as easy to use as the one in the S-Class Maybach. If you go for the ELB model you get two 10.2-inch tablets hidden in the backs of the front seats which appear at the push of a button. They are Android-based – giving you access to millions of apps and the ability to stream video or music.
Bentley Mulsanne passenger space
Bentleys have historically been more about the driver than the passenger, but there is so much space inside it poses the dilemma of whether to drive or be driven. Pick the EWB models and you’ll find the rear bench has been ditched in favour of two supremely comfortable separate rear chairs.
Bentley Mulsanne boot space
The boot capacity, however, is not what you expect from such a large car – 443 litres of space is down on the Phantom’s 460. Despite the limited capacity, getting a set of golf clubs in won’t be an issue.
Bentleys have always been drivers’ cars and the Mulsanne is no exception – the Speed model corners surprisingly flat with the adaptive dampers set to Sport and there is some feel and weight to the steering.
However, it’s on the motorway where the Mulsanne shines with its silent cabin and mountains of torque. The brakes perform peerlessly too, but the sheer dimensions of the car with the long bonnet and poor rear visibility take some getting used to.
The 6.75-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 produces a stonking 505bhp and a scarcely believable 752lb ft of torque – more than enough, even in a car weighing more than 2,500kgs.
The engine gives effortless performance, completing the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds and pushing the Bentley on to a top speed of 184mph. It’s a quiet engine too, only making its grumbly voice heard at full chat. The Speed model packs 530hp – enough for a 0-62mph sprint in 4.8 seconds. Quicker than a Porsche Boxster!
The Mulsanne has clever cylinder deactivation tech, but official fuel economy of 19mpg will be difficult to achieve even with a conservative right foot. CO2 emissions stand at the not-so-green 342g/km putting the Bentley in the highest road tax bracket of £515 per year.
No one can call a quarter-of-a-million pound hand-built car ‘reasonably priced’, but the Bentley is cheaper to buy than its biggest rival – the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Bentley Mulsanne Speed
Hinted at in the name, the Speed ups performance and adds sporty touches inside such as perforated aluminum pedals, a knurled gear selector and a sprinkling of carbon fibre.
Bentley Mulsanne ELB
ELB stands for Extended Wheel Base meaning the space between the front and rear wheels has been increased by a whopping 250mm giving, Bentley reckons, more rear seat passenger space than any other car on sale. Rear passengers are treated to leather chairs that recline and have an integrated champagne cooler with glasses in the centre console. You can even have optional folding tables.
As befits the massive price tag, the Bentley Mulsanne is one of the most opulent cars currently on sale. It harks back to the past, yet still feels modern. If you can afford the Mulsanne, you probably owe it to yourself to try one.