"The Bentley Mulsanne's beautiful interior is a masterclass in British luxury, featuring genuine wood trim, glass switchgear and super-soft leather"
The Bentley Mulsanne is the British marque's flagship saloon, and it offers buyers opulent luxury mixed with scintillating performance. It's powered by a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that produces over 1,000Nm of torque and 505bhp, which is effortlessly smooth, as well as being hugely powerful. The Mulsanne's very high price reflects the quality of the hand-crafted cabin, where passengers are spoilt with electrically adjustable front and rear seats, super-soft leather upholstery, wool carpets, traditional wooden dash and door trim, independent air conditioning and whisper-quiet noise levels. Buyers also have an almost endless choice of interior colours and finishes, with nine different types of leather available in 24 different colours. The Mulsanne is fitted with an eight speed automatic gearbox that also comes with manually operated gearshift paddles, and it's equally happy on twisty roads as it is cruising in silence on the motorway.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
Bentley has added a cylinder deactivation system to the big V8 engine, so the Mulsanne runs on four cylinders on light throttle loads. The system cuts in and out so smoothly as to be unnoticable, but a fuel economy figure of 17mpg is still far from economical. The Mulsanne sits in the highest Road Tax bracket, while servicing costs will be astranomical, too. However if you can afford to buy a Mulsanne, you can easily afford to keep it on the road.
Interior & comfort
No matter what speed you drive at, there is almost no perceptible road noise inside the Mulsanne, such is the level of sound deadening - the doors are even fitted with acoustic glazing and electric privacy blinds in the rear. The air-suspension automatically adjusts to provide a comfortable ride on all types of road surface, while the front and rear electronically adjustable seats are trimmed in sumptuous leather. The rear armrest cleverly houses a control panel for the rear climate control settings, but although leg and head room is very generous, the high rear transmission tunnel does effect the Mulsanne's ability to carry five people in total comfort. Extra-thick wool carpets feel very luxurious under foot.
Practicality & boot space
Despite the acres of interior space and cavernous boot, living with the Mulsanne does have its drawbacks. Its sheer size makes driving in busy towns and on narrow roads quite daunting. We doubt many owners will have any need to reverse park their Mulsanne, but should the need arise, due care and attention is required. The automatic gear selector takes some getting used to, especially when going from forward to reverse. Finally, the Mulsanne is certianly not subtle, so expect onlookers to stop and stare wherever you go.
Reliability & safety
Bentley is owned by Volkswagen, and the parent firm has ensured that all new Bentleys are highly reliable. In terms of build quality, the Mulsanne is exceptional, as every car is hand-built. In the event of an accident, side impact bars feature in the doors plus the sheer weight (2.5 tonnes) and size of the car help to make it a very safe option. Electronic tyre pressure monitors inform the driver of any sudden loss in pressure. Front and rear, head, and chest airbags are also fitted.
Engines, drive & performance
Driving the Bentley Mulsanne is a very unique experience and offeres a fantastic sense of occasion. You sit high-up in total comfort, but the big saloon is surprisingly agile, with accurate steering and effortless acceleration. It's capable of 184mph flat-out, and the Mulsanne can also accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds, which is on a par with some high-performance sports cars. The automatic gearbox provides seamless shifts, and is best left in full auto mode, as the steering wheel-mounted gear shifters provide little extra enjoyment to the experience.
Price, value for money & options
At nearly a quarter of a million pounds, the Bentley Mulsanne is massively expensive, but is relatively cheaper than some of its main rivals. It slots in above flagship versions of the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Rolls-Royce Ghost, but isn't as expensive as the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Mulsanne is a high-performance saloon with a truly hand-crafted feel. The huge list of standard equipment includes adaptive cruise control, Parking Distance Control, voice control, a 60GB multimedia hard drive, sat-nav and four-zone air conditioning.