Speed thrills

The new Mul­sanne Speed is a beau­ti­ful, mon­strous ma­chine as Paul Acres dis­cov­ers

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Motors -

Wel­come to the facelifted Bent­ley Mul­sanne Speed. The up­date brings with it a new bumper, bon­net, ra­di­a­tor, front shell, grilles and lights as well as the ad­di­tion of ac­tive en­gine mounts, re­vised sus­pen­sion bushes and be­spoke Dun­lop tyres de­signed to re­duce road noise. There’s also a new sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem.

It sits on a steel mono­coque chas­sis with light­weight su­per­formed alu­minium doors and front wings.

Co­cooned within the driver’s seat, sur­rounded by fine leather, pol­ished wood, finely crafted stain­less steel fit­tings and sit­ting be­hind a large steer­ing wheel, it­self framed in the same lus­trous ve­neer, there a sense of taste­ful op­u­lence.

Pas­sen­gers in the rear are treated to eight-way ad­justable seats as stan­dard and, de­pend­ing on how you ad­just them, up to 1050mm of legroom and 940mm of head­room.

Last year’s facelift brought with it some sig­nif­i­cant equip­ment up­grades, with the ad­di­tion of an 8in touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with sat nav, 60GB hard drive and Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto and Mir­rorLink.

Be­neath the bon­net is Bent­ley’s 6.75-litre twin­tur­bocharged V8, out­putting 505bhp and 725lbft of torque but now with vari­able phas­ing of the cylin­der shaft, cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion that shuts down half the V8 un­der light loads and light­weight pis­tons, con­rods and crank­shaft.

It is con­nected to the rear wheels via ZF’s lat­est eight­speed au­to­matic.

Un­der most cir­cum­stances the si­lence that greets you when you crank the prodi­gious V8 into life might be some­thing of a dis­ap­point­ment but these are not most cir­cum­stances and, should you re­quire a brief, spine-tin­gling, re­minder of the po­ten­tial be­neath the vast bon­net sim­ply blip the throt­tle.

Se­lect gear, press the ac­cel­er­a­tor hard and it launches it­self for­wards with a sav­agery that’s both bru­tal and re­strained,.

What is, per­haps, most as­ton­ish­ing, is the way it can de­liver its per­for­mance with­out ruf­fling feath­ers. Or hair. The Mul­sanne Speed’s air sus­pen­sion can be called upon to ei­ther pro­vide ei­ther stately, cos­set­ing limou­sine-like progress or, should you feel the de­sire for some­thing a lit­tle more in­volv­ing, the con­trolled, keen driv­ing in­cli­na­tion of a sports saloon.

There are four modes to choose from us­ing the car’s Drive Dy­nam­ics Con­trol sys­tem: Com­fort, Bent­ley, Sport and Cus­tom.

The first of those op­tions de­liv­ers the great­est re­fine­ment while cross-coun­try jaunts are best en­joyed with the car in Bent­ley mode thanks to meatier steer­ing and tauter sus­pen­sion.

Should Bent­ley mode not be enough – and re­ally, it should – Sport tight­ens every­thing up an­other notch but, in do­ing so, you can of­ten find your­self sac­ri­fic­ing the com­posed ele­gance that sep­a­rates the Mul­sanne from its more wal­let-friendly peers if you at­tempt to push it ev­er­closer to its lim­its.

The Mul­sanne Speed is not, per­haps, quite the car that you imag­ine it to be.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to fault the im­pe­ri­ous build, the classy ma­te­ri­als or the rare sense of oc­ca­sion that greets you ev­ery time you climb aboard but, while its ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a re­fined, ul­tra-lux­u­ri­ous limou­sine are be­yond re­proach, this is a car that is sim­ply beg­ging to be driven.

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