Cars

The Bent­ley Mul­sanne Speed looks like an ocean liner from the out­side and a stately home on the in­side, but don’t let that fool you— Adam Hay-ni­cholls proves that it’s ac­tu­ally a rocket ship

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

The Bent­ley Mul­sanne Speed is part ocean liner, part stately home and part rocket ship

"Boss” is a slang term that means some­thing is cool, im­pres­sive and in charge. Well, the Bent­ley Mul­sanne is def­i­nitely boss. It seems to cruise with its own imag­i­nary po­lice es­cort. Peo­ple re­spect it, envy it and get out of its way. And what makes the range-top­ping Mul­sanne Speed the boss of bosses is its 530bhp V8. We’re talk­ing ab­so­lute power here—no need for a board­room vote, this car is an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on 21-inch wheels.

There’s noth­ing sub­tle about this car. Mea­sur­ing more than 5.5 me­tres in length and 2.2 me­tres wide, and headed by a ra­di­a­tor that looks like a bat­ter­ing ram, it is an ex­tremely com­mand­ing pres­ence. The big cir­cu­lar lamps in­voke mem­o­ries of the great Le Mans-win­ning Bent­leys of the 1920s, back when head­lights needed to be the size of dust­bin lids to see. These make the whole world il­lu­mi­nated. Af­ter such a bel­li­cose front, the seam­less lines roll back­wards, el­e­gantly over and around the huge cabin to form a svelte rear. It looks as solid and re­gal as a Bent­ley should.

Un­der that long bon­net hides the se­cret to its majesty. With 6.75 litres of V8, its torque fig­ure is sec­ond only to the Bu­gatti Vey­ron. De­spite its weight, it’ll out-sprint an As­ton Martin Rapide. Put your foot down and the car im­me­di­ately launches for­ward with the kind of gusto re­served for Cape Canaveral launches. This serene belle of the ball hitches up its gown to re­veal legs like Usain Bolt. Zero to 100km/h takes just 4.9 sec­onds—and it’ll keep on go­ing to 305km/h.

What’s per­haps most im­pres­sive about this car is that you don’t no­tice any of that. Hardly any en­gine noise en­ters the cabin, and there’s very lit­tle per­cep­tion of speed as you glide along in those nar­colep­ti­cally com­fort­able arm­chairs. All that energy and force dis­perses as you brush the brakes, the chas­sis un­fazed as you throw it into a turn. There’s very lit­tle lurch­ing or roll; it might look like an ocean liner, but it corners like a train.

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