What is the Bentley Mulsanne?
Struggling to think of an alternative purchase to a Rolls-Royce Phantom and don’t fancy Simon Cowell’s favourite Maybach wheels? Then consider the little-known Bentley Mulsanne, a full-fat saloon car to rival both these behemoths for finely crafted profligacy and a drive — or ride — to remember. Though in fact, the Bentley is less expensive than the Phantom but flaunts almost as much (slightly vulgar) aristocratic presence.
Like the turbocharged Mulsannes that have preceded it, this Bentley manages the beguiling trick of combining the atmosphere of a country house library with the ability to out-accelerate most sports cars, a feat all the more surprising in the light of its unmissable scale. Once sampled, the experience is a hard one to give up, though few will enjoy it given the Mulsanne’s £225,900 price tag, a figure easily inflated once the bespoke options are explored.
This is a car that you almost climb up into, and it doesn’t feel any less sizable once you’re seated — very comfortably — behind its luxuriantly leathered wheel. But you do get a fine view out, and the ease of conducting it and your apprehension at its girth dissolve with the discovery that this car is as sporting as its performance implies, a mix of unexpectedly accurate steering, very good body control and locomotive-like pull enabling it to get about with amazing deftness for one so large. That said, the eight-speed auto’s fleeting moments of indecision can interrupt the passage of its Niagara-like power.
For the most part the Mulsanne rides with the satin-smooth serenity of a limousine too, although the air suspension occasionally fails to cope with more savage bumps. A Rolls-Royce Phantom featherbeds more effectively. But if you’re a keen driver in need of a billionaire’s limousine, this is the car.
It’s no surprise to find an abundance of luxury materials, from richly veneered woods to vellum-smooth leathers. The cabin is that bit more distinctive for the diamond-pattern stitching of assorted leather panels on the seats and doors. Exceptionally effective air conditioning, a quartet of massage seats and the near-silence of your progress all underline the excellence of this machine, as does its subtly robust aura. But it’s a surprise to find slightly mean rear footroom in a car 5.5 metres long, and the front seat cushions are a little too short as well.
Buying a used Bentley Mulsanne
Under Volkswagen Group ownership, the assembly facilities at Crewe have been dragged into the 21st century, and new Bentleys should be less, er, idiosyncratic than their forebears. This Mulsanne is mechanically modern, and much of its technology has been tried and tested elsewhere by the parent group. Yet its interior is finished with painstaking attention to detail, and you’d have to hunt hard for even the slightest traces of VW — it remains very much a British beast.
The Mulsanne hasn’t been subject to body-kitting to the same degree as the smaller and sportier Bentleys, but be wary of some of the more garish colour combinations if you’re concerned about residual (resale) values. A full dealer service history is a must, to preserve residuals as much as because of reliability worries. Make sure all the electrical, electronic and entertainment functions work as they should, and check carefully for damage to the sumptuous upholstery (such as drinks spillages in the back) as proper repairs will cost you dearly.
The One to Buy
- £225,900 (correct at first publication)
- 6752cc, V8
- 505bhp @ 4200rpm
- 752 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 8-speed automatic
- 0-62mph in 5.3sec
- Top Speed:
- Road Tax Band:
- L 5575mm, W 1926mm, H 1521mm