Fast luxury – the Bentley Mulsanne Speed
With its British engineering and handcrafted luxuries, Bentley’s impressive Mulsanne Speed delivers the best of both worlds.Damien Reid January 27, 2016
Unfortunately I have some bad news for those who are looking to purchase a Bentley Mulsanne Speed for their daily commute to the office, no doubt enjoying it from the rear seat with the chauffeur up front.
You see, I tried all the back seat pleasures when I spent a few days with the Mulsanne Speed - the 60Gb inbuilt hard drive, the Naim 14-speaker surround sound system, the two 8-inch TV monitors, the onboard WiFi and router, even a glass of bubbly from the frosted glass cooler hidden between the rear seats. But none of them gave me as much pleasure as the seat up front – behind the steering wheel.
Don’t let the luxurious features fool you, this car is very much a driver’s car and where other luxury car manufacturers tend to place more emphasis on the rear seat occupant than those up front, Bentley has ensured that no matter where you sit in the Mulsanne Speed, you will be pleasantly surprised.
On first looks, the flagship Bentley gives the impression of being the ultimate chauffeured transport with decadent luxury at every sideways glance. Yet take a closer peak and you’ll see that carbon fibre has replaced the oak inlays in the door cappings, the headlights and tail lights have a slightly sinister, smoked dark appearance, the large oval tail pipes are rifled, the 21-inch, alloy wheels are verging on being considered ‘sporty’ and the classic chrome grille is now a purposeful ash coloured grey.
The ‘Speed’ badges on the front guards give the game away that this is the sports version of the Mulsanne. Its 6.75-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 has been beefed up by 25bhp to produce 530bhp and develops 1100Nm of torque from just 1750rpm, up from 1020Nm at 2250rpm.
With a redline hovering around where most cars only begin to come alive at 4500rpm, it’s still good enough to get it to 100kmh in 4.9 seconds and on to a frivolous 305kmh.
The thing I love about the Mulsanne is that it’s a proper Bentley. Not to downplay the Continental or Flying Spur as they are sensational in their own right, but this flagship is a one-off that’s not related to any parent company’s shared parts network.
This is old-school Bentley with a very heavily modified version of the original 6.75-litre V8 that’s been the lifeblood of Bentley since 1959. It sits inside a bespoke chassis that’s not taken from another model and is not shared with anything else.
- Engine: 6.75-litre V8 twin-turbo
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Power: 530bhp @ 4200rpm
- Torque: 11000Nm @ 1750rpm
- 0-100kmh: 4.9 seconds
- Top Speed: 305kmh
- Price: AED 1,900,000
It is a car that has been 84 years in the making, which was the last time Bentley built a bespoke model from the ground up under the watchful eye of W.O. Bentley himself.
The Mulsanne Speed has selectable sports suspension and steering on demand which is matched to a recalibrated eight-speed automatic transmission that includes a new “S” mode.
This gives the driver more control and maintains the engine speed above 2,000 rpm so that the turbochargers are always ready to deliver instantaneous performance.
A stab of the throttle to overtake and it lifts its haunches and moves into supercar, warp factor mode, launching corners at you in rapid succession.
Its air suspension, steering, throttle mapping and eight-speed box have all been recalibrated to be more responsive when in Sport mode, however each of these can also be set individually if you really want to tailor how you’d like your Mulsanne Speed to behave.
You can have the dampers set to Comfort, the Steering set to Sport and the powertrain set to standard, or any other combination. There are plenty of so-called sports and super cars on the market that don’t offer this.
With the click of a polished, solid knurled silver, rotary dial, you can switch from a communicative and enjoyable car to drive at pace, to a relaxing, comfortable and exceptionally refined limousine around town.
Only 300 from the 1100 Mulsannes produced per year worldwide will be of the Speed variety, so exclusivity is assured, however you can of course, tailor it further as you please.
The Mulsanne Speed is the last of the breed for stand-alone, tailor-made luxury cars. Even at AED 1,900,000 it probably doesn’t make financial sense for Bentley to build it, given the tooling isn’t used for anything else but long may it continue as a reminder of how handcrafted luxury and heavy British engineering delivered the best of both worlds.