The Bentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase is an extraordinary car. It weighs 2.7 tonnes and is 5.8 metres long. Yet it actually goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds. What the hell? Well, it has a 6 litre twin-turbo V8 with 505 bhp and 752 lb.ft of torque. That’s sufficient to put you ahead in any lane change. Despite its length the Mulsanne is elegantly proportioned and the Extreme Silver paintwork with Bright Chrome exudes pedigree. A luxury sedan that hankers back to the halcyon days of grand touring through Europe and the French Riviera. A time when length, width and gravitas were celebrated and a vast bonnet stretching out before you was de rigueur for the gentlemen motorist.
The wheelbase is extended so that the rear passengers ride in serious comfort with legroom to spare. A long journey in this is akin to sitting in your living room, staring at the two televisions that rise out of the front seats. One of you can watch “Strictly” and the other “Love Island” sparing you both the usual channel dispute. And earphones come as standard in dandy little pouches in the door pockets.
There are folding tables too, so you could stop off at Fortnum’s on your way down the Mall and pick up a little something. Don’t forget the champagne as there is a secret fridge hidden behind the middle armrest which opens at the touch of a button. Room for a bottle and the two lovely Bentley Mulliner glasses. I can attest it chills perfectly. The back seats also recline and a footrest rises at your command. Last but not least, all four seats have a genuinely effective massage, kneading your lower and upper back as if by hidden Swedish masseuse.
But back to the engineering. The steering is ZF speed sensitive, so it gets tighter and more precise the quicker you go. It has a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, that is so smooth I failed to detect the gear changes for the entire time I drove it. Oh and a top speed of 190 mph. One drawback is that it does a combined 18.8 mpg, but it does deactivate four of the eight cylinders when not needed, so you do get the maximum possible miles out of the system. Considering the size and weight of the car it’s truly impressive.
This car is meant to be chauffeur driven, though quite why you’d pay £286,000 and let your chauffeur have all the fun is beyond me. It is a delight to drive. In less than 20 minutes I’d forgotten I was driving the luxury version of an armoured personnel carrier, whipping down country lanes and around town with ease. The steering is so perfectly balanced, precise and feather-light. I even managed to park in some tight spots with the aid of the rearview camera’s yellow lines that indicate your direction. Very rare I solely trust a camera for parking, but this was accurate to the millimetre. You can even electrictronically raise the car over any pavement if you need that extra space, very handy indeed.
The real magic in the Bentley Mulsanne is all in the ride. The suspension is so smooth, it should have a setting called “Caramel” along with Bentley, Comfort and Sport. There is no lean and very little yaw even with heavy acceleration or braking. This is where Bentley excel. They fine-tune everything down to the tiniest granular detail. The engineering, software, performance and handling are magnificent. In sport mode the speedometer will flick around the dial, but it’s nigh impossible to feel it. You had better keep an eye out as 70 mph feels like 30.
We idly wondered about testing how fast we could accelerate before knocking a glass off the rear table. We wisely decided against wasting the champagne and incurring a hefty leather cleaning bill.
The interior of the Mulsanne with the Mulliner specification package is pure Bentley luxury. It cossets and spoils you to the nth degree. I found myself driving slower than usual as whereever I was going was unlikely to be as gorgeous as the inside of this car. The wood panelling on the doors and dash is a dark stained Vavona veneer, complimented by a Portland and Damson leather with contrast stitching. The metal buttons have the knurled Bentley etching and the leather is diamond quilted.
It’s rear-wheel drive so you could certainly drift the back out around a track with all that power. This might suggest an elephant gliding majestically on the corners with its rear end sliding out, at speeds more associated with a cheetah, but with style.
The Naim premium audio system is superb and could take everything from Portishead to Sabaton (don’t ask) with perfect sound fidelity, as you would expect. Pity no one outside the car can hear it, though I didn’t try it at full volume. The entertainment and navigation are now more intuitive. Though there are so many buttons on the middle panel, it’s worth taking twenty minutes to familiarise yourself. The first to go for on a cold English morning is the seat heating, turn that up to a maximum of three and your behind will be pleasantly barbecued. Medium rare anyone?
As any fan knows, Bond drove a Bentley in the books. It strikes me that if were you in a real car battle against people that meant you harm, the Bentley Mulsanne is exactly the car you should be driving. It has the power to outrace almost anything on the road and more importantly outweighs almost every other contender, which as any boxer knows is a real advantage. Anything you drove into or sideswiped would be pancaked. The Mulsanne adds a pretty high level of safety to the luxury.
Smooth has to be the byword for this car, smooth interior, leather, veneer, drive, performance, braking and acceleration. Smooth as caramel, with hidden power. The new Bentley Mulsanne EWB is impossibly glossy and luxurious, and yes a step up from the last model, which was already magnificent. A luxury limousine with supercar performance. Bentley has reached a critical quality point in their journey fusing old-world luxury and innovative technology that means that each new model is genuinely exciting.