Bentley Mulsanne review
The Bentley Mulsanne is a fitting flagship for the famous British brand and combines epic performance with opulent luxury
The Bentley Mulsanne maintains the finest hand-crafted traditions of the British luxury car firm. It's the flagship of the range, which is appropriate, because of the car's sheer size. It's powered by a large-capacity turbocharged V8 that offers lots of power and torque for smooth, effortless high-speed cruising.
The Mulsanne arrived in 2010, and it replaced the Arnage at the top of the Bentley range, which itself was a successor to the original Mulsanne built between 1980 and 1992. The one thing that connects these three cars, and links the current Mulsanne with nearly 60 years of Bentley models, is that the current car's 6.75-litre V8 was originally developed and introduced in 1959.
To keep the firm's flagship fresh, Bentley applied a range of mid-life updates to the saloon in late 2016 – with revised front and rear lights, extra kit, and a new Extended Wheelbase (EWB) version. Those who prefer to drive their luxury limousine should look toward the Mulsanne Speed variant.
The current V8 is far more powerful and efficient than its ancestors, though, and with 505bhp, even the 'entry-level' model will do 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds. Opt for the aforementioned Mulsanne Speed and power jumps to 530bhp – slashing the benchmark sprint to just 4.9 seconds. The heavier EWB car does 0-62mph in 5.5s.
Every Bentley Mulsanne offers blistering performance, but passengers will hardly be aware of the car's pace, thanks to the opulent interior. There are soft carpets, plush leather seats and plenty of matching wood veneers, while the quality of the metal switchgear and controls is excellent.
If you're familiar with other models in the VW Group range, then you might recognise some of the switchgear and the layout of the infotainment system, but it has been given Bentley's own graphics while it should prove to work trouble-free.
If you're in the back, the plush seats will make every journey relaxing, while the EWB version offers even more space. Bentley's Mulliner division can offer an even more bespoke interior, although you do have to pay for the extra features. However, if you're thinking of splashing out on a Mulsanne, prices that start from around £250,000 aren't going to be much of a concern.
Rivals for the Mulsanne are scarce. The most obvious one is the Rolls-Royce Ghost, while the Mercedes S 600 Maybach is a plush variant of the S-Class limousine. Aside from that, the only other real opposition is from within Bentley, as the Flying Spur saloon is almost as luxurious, and so is the Bentayga SUV.
The flagship Bentley Mulsanne is the last word in luxury performance saloons. Each car is hand-built at the firm's factory in Crewe, using the finest materials money can buy.
Inside you get sumptuous leather, fine wood veneers and deep pile carpeting in the finest tradition, while under the bonnet is a 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 that offers masses of torque and blistering performance. It's less uncouth than some rivals, however, always operating in near-silence.
The Mulsanne weighs two-and-a-half tonnes, yet it can still accelerate from 0-60mph in five seconds. As is the case with many luxury goods, if you need to ask how much the Bentley Mulsanne costs, then you probably can't afford it.
Engines, performance and drive
For such a big car the Mulsanne is nothing short of astounding. The 6.75-litre twin turbo V8 produces 505bhp and generates over 1,000Nm of torque, so there’s always plenty in reserve. Go for the Mulsanne Speed and things are turned up to 11.
The two-and-a-half-tonne saloon can accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 184mph – but it’s not simply about straight-line speed. The Mulsanne also copes with corners surprisingly well, with precise steering and impressive agility. Few cars so effortlessly combine extreme comfort with driving enjoyment.
Every Bentley Mulsanne comes with a 6.75-litre turbocharged V8. The 'entry-level' model gets 505bhp and a frankly astonishing 1,020Nm of torque, while the Mulsanne Speed version ramps things up to 530bhp and 1,100Nm. That means the Mulsanne currently has more torque than any other production car – even EV giants like the Tesla P100d, which boasts 980Nm.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
Any car that weighs as much as the Bentley is unlikely to score highly for fuel economy, nevermind one with a twin-turbo V8 shoe-horned under its bonnet. Predictably, real-world economy is pretty dire. The official figures suggest 19.3mpg is possible, but if you dip into those deep reserves of power expect to see sub-10mpg fuel economy on the trip computer.
Aside from fuel, other costs associated with owning a Bentley are likely to be cripplingly expensive. Everything from tyres and servicing to parts and tax come with a super-sized price.
Unsurprisingly, every Bentley Mulsanne falls into the top insurance group 50. That means premiums will be steep whichever way you look at things – though those in a position to buy a Bentley are unlikely to care.
Due to the Bentley Mulsanne's sky-high list price, if you buy one new then you'll take a big hit on depreciation over the first three years or 60,000 miles. That said, residual values of around 47 per cent are par for the course.
Interior, design and technology
If you want to make a statement, few things in life do it with the style and panache of a big Bentley. The firm’s winged emblem is one of the most desirable badges in the world and the gigantic proportions and huge grille of the Mulsanne make it a unmistakable.
Few cars have as much road presence as this striking saloon and the atmosphere inside is equally impressive. Beautifully crafted wood, leather and alloy trim gives this car a unique feel inside and buyers can individually tailor the cabin to their taste.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Being part of the wider Volkswagen Group, the Bentley Mulsanne uses a tweaked version of the big brand's infotainment system. It's an eight-inch touchscreen that's intutive to use and packed with tech, though all the fonts and graphics are bespoke for the big limo.
Of course, things like Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and sat-nav are included, while adding items like the £14,890 Entertainment Specification includes iPad picnic tables with rear-seat screens, a Naim stereo and WiFi-enabled hotspot.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Bentley Mulsanne is a limousine that likes to be driven, so whether you’re sitting in the front or the back you’ll have plenty of space. The 443-litre boot will easily swallow a few golf bags, picnic hampers or tailored luggage sets, too, but this is not a car for trips to the DIY shop; its sumptuously trimmed cabin puts the emphasis firmly on relaxation.
Handy touches include keyless entry, soft-close doors and a powered bootlid, while parking sensors come as standard – essential in a car measuring more than five-and-a-half-metres long.
Even the standard Bentley Mulsanne is huge. Measuring 5,575mm end to end, it's 526mm longer than a Porsche Panamera, for example. It feels massive from behind the wheel, too, and will prove tricky to thread down congested city streets. The Extended Wheelbase version is longer still - measuring nearly six metres tip to tail.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Being such a big car, even the short wheelbase Mulsanne offers plenty of space for front and rear-seat occupants. You'll find loads of room to stretch out, and even those with really long legs shouldn't suffer behind a tall driver. The EWB car is bigger still, of course, and represents a truly opulent way of travelling from A to B.
Few people will use the Bentley Mulsanne for carrying muck to the tip, but many might fill it with expensive shopping or big suitcases. The 443-litre boot is a good size, though it's trumped by the relatively compact Porsche Panamera's 495-litre load bay.
Reliability and Safety
Cars sold in such limited numbers as the Mulsanne don’t tend to figure highly on the priority list of the crash testers at Euro NCAP, but the Bentley is sure to protect is occupants if the worst does happen. Active systems such as electronic stability control and active suspension aim to keep the car on the straight and narrow and the usual array of airbags protects passengers if they don't.
Bentley is also famed for its customer care, so if you do experience a reliability gremlin, you can expect the best possible attention.
Every Bentley comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, which means any problems should be fixed without issue.
Despite its sky-high price, pre-paid service packages are available from Bentley dealers. It'll be expensive to keep your Mulsanne on the road – though that's unlikely to be of concern to any potential owner.