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Feature: One in a billion
In the far stratosphere, peopled only by the rarest and the exhorbitantly priced, some gems stand out
Ever since Bentley’s Mulsanne range made its entry into the automotive world, the cars have been at the centre of a lot of attention, as is wont from this sedan fit for captains of industry and heads of state. There are three versions in the line-up now, the standard Mulsanne, the Speed and the Extended Wheelbase (EWB). There was a facelift recently and the car’s imposing, regal features went under the knife for some minor cut-patch jobs.
But what got our attention was news that two of the 50 EWB cars made in the limited edition Hallmark series, had made it to India. Now this is a special car. Aside from being part of the special edition series, it’s also commissioned by Mulliner, Bentley’s rather unfathomably long customization arm.
The result is the car you see on these pages. To take a closer look at the “luxury liner on wheels”, we visited the Bentley dealership in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi. In the metal, this nearly six-metre-long sedan looks enormous. I mean, you could fit in two Tata Nanos in the same parking slot.
It took some time to figure out all the features on this special edition car. The list is rather long, so let’s go over all the customisations section by section. First, being part of the Hallmark series by Mulliner, the Mulsanne gets a gold plated flying B, a fine gold line running the length of the car, the Bentley emblem in gold, gold tread plates, gold piping on seats and “1 of 50” etched onto the door sills, among others.Second, the “Commissioned by Mulliner” etched onto the dashboard means some extra special options such as quilted design on the seats, 21-inch alloys and alloy pedals, among others.
Third, EWB means there’s 250mm more space added to the acres on offer for those super-important rear occupants. They get two airline-style reclining seats (with extendable squabs) and massage function for all four seats. Aside from these, it’s also possible to add more customization options. And on this particular example, there’s gold hide, two 10.4-inch detachable tablets with the rear seats,a 20-speaker Naim sound system, veneered picnic tables that pop out from the central armrest in the rear, and a refrigerated bottle cooler with frosted glass and bespoke crystal champagne flutes, among others. Phew, now that’s an abridged version of the list. If I had to mention all the features, it would take me days. After spending hours poring over the specifications list and identifying the additions on the car, it was finally time to take the big Bentley for a spin.
As I slid in behind the wheel, there was a flurry of activity among the dealership personnel and one gentleman came up to me with a thoroughly confused expression, “Sir, the focus in this car is on the back seat. Why don’t you let the company appointed driver take the wheel and relax in the rear?” I had no intentions of skipping a ride in that back seat and definitely wanted to “relax my rear” in the back, but given that it was still early morning and the city was not properly up yet, I wanted to do the first bit of driving myself.Once the traffic started in full flow, I’d let the company driver take the reins and manoeuvre this massive sedan through the rough and tumble of Delhi’s traffic.
In the meantime, it was time to enjoy that 6,752cc twin-turbocharged V8 monster under the hood. It comes mated to an eight-speed, ZF-sourced automatic gearbox and makes 505bhp and 1020Nm of pulling power, which the manufacturer claims will hustle this near-3 tonne sedan from 0-100kph in 5.5 seconds. Not that you can tell how potent the beast is when you fire it up. It wakes with a gentle rumble which is very easy to miss, the refinement is that good. So, there I was, ambling along on the wide, tree-lined roads of the capital. The engine revs only up to 4,500rpm and the power delivery is linear with no sudden surges anywhere; wouldn’t want to wake up the rear occupants now, would we? The air suspension is superb, and although there aren’t really any potholes in this plush part of the national capital, the one or two odd surface irregularities were tackled with aplomb, as if they weren’t even there.
Stomping on the accelerator doesn’t really elicit any explosive results, although it is possible to drive it quickly. Even around Delhi’s numerous roundabouts, the EWB grips decently well and there isn’t really as much body movement as you’d expect from a behemoth of these dimensions. Impressive.
I woke up the company driver from what seemed like a rather pleasant nap and took his spot on the recliner. It was time for some quality “R&R”. Seats set to cool and massage, electrically operable blinds drawn, I sank into the blissful oblivion of a nap only the finest quilted leather and extendable seat squabs could provide. Noise insulation is astonishingly good, with even the tyres coated with a special compound to cut road noise.
I was left undisturbed until a phone call from the Editor rudely woke me up. Some distance off still from the dealership, I decided to spend the rest of my time in the Mulsanne’s rear, using the tablet provided for each of the two back seat passengers.
As we drove back into the dealership, I was thankful I didn’t have to park this mammoth. But then, I don’t think any Bentley owner really has to worry about that. Not that it was a herculean task, as the camera provided decent viewing angles for the driver. So, there you have it. If for some inexplicable reason, the standard Mulsanne is not spacious or luxurious enough for you, you could opt for the EWB.And if you want this super special edition, well, you can’t have it. They’re all sold out. But then, remember, it’s a Bentley. Even if you only manage to get your hands on a standard car, you do have the option of customizing the car to any extent you like or rather, as much as your bank account will allow. But then, if you’re lining up to buy one of these, your bank account probably has some really deep reserves.