Bentley Mulsanne Speed
Darker trim finish marks out the Speed from its Mulsanne counterpart
- Beautiful interior is a pleasure to use
- Sensational, vast performance
- Outstanding levels of refinement and comfort
- Very high level of build quality and finish
- One of the most expensive cars to buy and to run
- Sheer size can make urban manoeuvres tricky
- Can attract unwanted attention
- Standard Mulsanne offers many of the same qualities
Following a series of upgrades to the Mulsanne for the 2016 model year, luxury British brand Bentley has also delivered a second model to the range in the shape of the Mulsanne Speed. With the name comes increased performance and dynamicism as well as unique features compared to the standard car, making it a Bentley to be driven as well as driven in.
The Bentley brand has gone from strength to strength in recent years, helped by the huge success of the Continental models in both coupe and convertible form as well as the Flying Spur saloon derived from it. However it is the job of the Mulsanne to satisfy even more demanding customers higher up the market.
In Speed form the Mulsanne gets a revised exterior treatment, which includes a darker tint to the chrome detailing, rifled exhaust pipes, unique alloy wheels and relatively discreet 'Speed' badges. It is also offered with an increased range of colour options, whilst inside the Mulsanne gets the Driving Specification pack as standard as well as unique trim options.
Beneath the exterior the Speed's engine benefits from the same efficiency revisions as the standard car, but with additional increases to power and torque over and above that. As a result the Speed is the fastest version of the Mulsanne Bentley has ever produced. Despite the age of the V8 powerplant it has been continually updated to keep pace with modern emission regulations.
To cope with the additional performance the Mulsanne Speed has revised suspension settings, accessed through the mode selection switch as featured on all modern Bentley models. It also is fitted with carbon ceramic brakes as standard, while the steering set up has tweaked to deliver sharper responses without spoiling the high standards of comfort.
Our verdict on the Bentley Mulsanne Speed
The differences between the Speed and the standard Mulsanne may be relatively modest, but as an overall package it adds up to something that is very special. The Speed combines effortless performance with superlative comfort, and while there's no disguising its sheer mass, it is fun to drive at speed as well as a very relaxing car over long distances.
There's no avoiding the fact that the Mulsanne Speed is an expensive car to buy and will be an expensive car to run. It's purchase price makes it one of the most expensive cars available in the UK, while fuel consumption, insurance and servicing costs will all be at a high level.
Space and practicality
As the Mulsanne Speed remains a limousine, space for all occupants is very good indeed. Up front head, leg and elbow room are all generous, while in the rear there is even more space available - legroom is sufficient for even tall passengers to recline their seats and stretch out.
Controls and display
With so much space available the controls of the Mulsanne are well spaced-out, and their classic design means clear white-on-black instruments and labelling of buttons. Although the large display screen does without touch operation, the rotary controller mounted on the dashboard is easy to use.
Few cars can offer the level of comfort delivered by the Mulsanne Speed. The combination of superb refinement, comfortable seats with heating, massage and ventilation, plus the well judged ride quality, and you have a car that is very restful to travel in regardless of whether you are the driver or a passenger.
High security is essential for a car of this value, and the Mulsanne Speed has an alarm and immobiliser system as standard, as well as a track system to enable the authorities to locate the vehicle should the worst happen.
The Mulsanne Speed is possibly one of the safest vehicles on the road. It's sheer size and mass means it is exceptionally strong in the event of an accident with plenty of room for crumple zones. As well as a powerful engine and strong brakes, the Mulsanne Speed is fitted with electronic stability controls that are able to harness the powerful engine.
The key factor for any Bentley is that it is suitable to be both driven in and chauffeured in, and the Mulsanne Speed delivers substantially in both roles. From the driver's seat the view out is superb with a relatively high-set driving position, and it is an easy car to operate. The most engaging element is the engine, which delivers such effortless torque and acceleration as to make light work of traffic, cruising and high-speed driving. The suspension is also very well judged, keeping this large and heavy car in check without ruining ride comfort.
Family car appeal
While the Mulsanne Speed isn't the first car that comes to mind as a family wagon it is actually well set for the purpose. There's tons of space in the rear, there are a broad range of entertainment options available and the swathes of leather are more resistant to wear and spills than cloth.
First car appeal
The Mulsanne is most certainly too expensive, too powerful and too costly to insure for a new driver, even for an experienced driver it requires care and attention with so much power and size to contend with.
Quality and image
With a price tag in excess of GBP250,000 buyers are entitled to expect a very high level of quality, but the Mulsanne Speed does not disappoint. The materials used almost universally excellent and are constructed with obvious great care. The Mulsanne enjoys an elevated position above the slightly more commonplace Continental models and as such is even more exclusive, although there remains an element of ostentatiousness that might make it inconspicuous in some circumstances.
With vast doors front and rear the Mulsanne is very easy to climb aboard, particularly as the rear legroom is very generous indeed. Access to the boot is good too, although it is worth noting that choosing the upgraded Naim audio system means the amplifier encroaches on the space available.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
One important upgrade across the Mulsanne range is an updated infotainment system with new graphics and a simple push and turn rotary controller. With a larger, clearer display and elegant graphics it is much easier to operate and is a big step forward from the old system. The standard audio equipment is impressive, but the optional Naim system is one of the best available in the market.
Colours and trim
There are thousands options when it comes to configuring the interior and exterior of the Mulsanne Speed; 96 exterior paint shades are available, not including two-tone or custom shades, ranging from the dark and subtle to the outrageously vibrant. The same goes for the inside with approximately 20 hide colours, as well as contrasting and stitching options, veneers and trim choices.
The Mulsanne Speed is an undeniably big car and regardless of the fact that parking sensors and a reversing camera are fitted as standard, great care is required to safely stow it in a parking space. That said, visibility front and rear is good and the steering is usefully light at low speeds.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard, space saver spare optional.
Petrol engine options - 6.75-litre (503bhp, 530bhp). Transmission options: Eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Trim levels: Mulsanne, Mulsanne Speed.
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