THE Mulsanne model we first saw in 2010 was an important car for Bentley, the first of the brand’s modern-era cars that owed nothing to a Rolls Royce sibling or a Volkswagen Group engine.
The Volkswagen Groupowned company resisted serious pressure to water this car’s design down with the platform of an Audi A8, determined that, like the Bentley eight-litre of 1930, the last ‘proper’ fully Crewe-conceived representative of the marque, this Mulsanne’s design should owe nothing to any lesser car.
So everything about this car is bespoke, unique and very, very special. All of that remains with this revised, re-styled model.
Which is as it should be in a vehicle that may very well be the finest motorcar that money can buy. that characteristic deep muffled V8 burble very different from the W12 unit that lesser Bentleys borrow from the old Volkswagen Phaeton. The standard and Extended Wheelbase models offer 512PS, while the Speed version boosts that to 537PS.
Either way, a car of this kind is defined not by its output but by the pulling power it can offer - as you realise very soon after you bury your brogues into the deep pile carpet and watch the horizon hurl itself towards you.
Quite simply, this Mulsanne has an astonishing amount of it, one of the very few cars anywhere in the world to offer four figures of torque, 1020Nm to be precise, even in the standard version.
At first, you’re rather hesitant to use all of this performance, but such fears are groundless.
This is, after all, a brand that has rediscovered a motorsport heritage that runs to no fewer than six Le Mans victories. It’s even named after the most famous corner at the classic French track. It ought to be able to handle the twisty stuff in a way that would embarrass a stately Rolls Royce. And it can. If you’re going to spend the best part of a quarter of a million pounds on a luxury saloon, then you don’t want to blend into the background.
Buying something bland like a Mercedes Maybach seems a bit pointless when you could achieve much the same effect for a quarter of the cost in a 7 Series, an S-Class or an Audi A8.
In the pictures, the Mulsanne’s look still takes a bit of getting used to but in the metal, the Raul Pires-designed coachwork all begins to make more sense, derived as it is in style from the last ‘all-Bentley’ Bentley, the awesome 8.0-litre model of 1930, as well as from the S-Type Bentley of the 1950s.
A suite of elegantly executed styling revisions mark this revised Mulsanne out from its predecessor. The entire front-end style of the car (forward of the A pillar) has been completely redesigned.
If this famous British brand is to survive, to be credible, then it must make models of this kind. The Mulsanne is a car with a sense of occasion, a beautiful thing to ride in that’s even better to drive.
Rolls Royce needs both its Phantom and its Ghost to accomplish what Bentley does here with one simple breathtaking piece of engineering.
It’s a statement of course - and one you’ll need to feel comfortable with in these difficult times. But in making it, you’ll encourage others to aspire to the kind of excellence that this car represents.
At the wheel of one of these, they won’t be disappointed.