What is it?
Bentley’s flagship is not a huge seller, so this is a rare beast. That’s relatively speaking – a £228,200 saloon is never going to sell in numbers as great as the VW Golf. Except, perhaps in China, where Bentley can’t feed its growing dealership network quickly enough. The Mulsanne’s new, too, introduced in 2010, which in Bentley timescales is extremely young. It’s imposing as a Bentley saloon should be, but it’s not conventionally pretty.
The first thing to get your head around is the scale. Usefully it’s fairly obvious where the upright front ends, but its width might be troublesome on narrower roads.
Under the lengthy bonnet sits a 6.75-litre V8 with a pair of turbochargers helping it along, the Mulsanne is comically rapid for such a weighty machine. It’s like a country house with a thruster from the space shuttle attached, a mighty 752lb ft of torque arriving at just 1,750rpm. It’ll reach 62mph in just 5.1 seconds, which is better than a Rolls-Royce Phantom, should you be caught in a traffic-light Grand Prix en route to Harrods.
Eight gears are swapped automatically, or, if you’d rather, you can take control yourself. It’s so good in automatic mode we’d leave it alone. Likewise, dynamic changes are on offer, with stiffer dampers and weightier steering possible via a rotary dial on the centre console: just pop it in comfort and leave it be. Hushed, rapid and hugely comfortable, the Mulsanne is everything a Bentley should be.
On the inside
Few places are nicer to be than the inside of a Mulsanne. The wood looks so deep and lustrous it could have grown in place before being polished; and the leather is so soft it’s like the cows had a rigorous daily shiatsu routine. Add chrome detailing and it’s a quite lovely driving environment. Only the most dedicated VW spotters will recognise some of the switchgear, and that’s only because it’s used in the tiny selling Phaeton. Bentley has gone all modern, too, with iPod and telephone connections, though it’s still hidden away in a neat panel in the dash.
Mulsanne buyers are the sort known to Bentley, so it’s likely you’ll have shaken hands with the chaps and ladies who built your engine and lovingly crafted your car’s interior. There’s enormous scope for personalisation, limited only by imagination and wealth. Running costs will be tremendous, but so will the satisfaction of owning and driving it. Residuals will be off set by your investments elsewhere, and you don’t sell old Bentleys anyway – you simply buy another to park alongside it in the garage.