The new Bentley Mulsanne is a car that positively exudes class. When you're behind the wheel, you feel its tidal wave of torque, but it puts you into the exclusive club of big car owners, not that of the garish Formula One on the road type driving. There is a sports button, but it doesn't open up the valves to create an artificial ghetto-blasting engine sound deafening the pedestrians. It lowers the car a bit and hardens up the suspension. Refined, understated luxury.
This has been a Bentley characteristic right from the start. Founder W.O. Bentley's ambition was for "a fast car, a good car, the best in its class.” The brand's five victories at Le Mans in the 1920s, plus a sixth in 2003, prove that the idea of combining luxury and performance is valid today just as it was back in 1919.
Bentley Mulsanne Arabica
Make no mistake, its sophistication doesn't mean a boring drive. Put your foot down and the acceleration feels like a jet taking off. Keep it down and its six and three-quarter-litre engine keeps you accelerating as it changes up through the eight-speed gearbox, and before you know it you're at 200 km/h. The generosity of the power plant built by the people in Crewe keeps this two-ton missile going faster and faster, up to 290 and beyond.
All the while, you are cosseted by technology. Inside, the only sound you hear is a gentle purr, thanks to the active sound damping and the high-tech tyres whose inner foam layer decreases rolling noise. Your conversation continues unchecked, and your enjoyment of the music is absolute whatever the speed.
Bentley Mulsanne Speed Barnato
It's a car with a curious spatial relativity. When you're behind the wheel, even though it is a large vehicle, it feels manageable. It's easy to build that sort of empathy for width and length that enables you to manoeuvre and park easily – tasks that are in any case facilitated by the seamless obstruction sensors. At the same time, the spacious interiors seem to expand, and you feel that the car is more like a luxurious apartment than a means of transport. You are surrounded by material comforts, from the seats that can provide you with a gentle back massage, a fridge with space for two bottles of champagne and two flutes, superbly engineered tables that unfold to create a stable platform for a personal computer, and video screens that emerge from the seats in front of you. The Mulsanne can become a mobile office, with its own wi-fi and USB sockets. And if you need privacy, all the windows have blackout curtains.
Discover more of Mulsanne, Mulsanne Speed, and Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase. But the Bentley feel is something that you can only appreciate on board. Don’t miss the experience.