- Sublime luxury
- Unparalleled ride comfort
- Impressive handling in Speed models
- Seemingly limitless torque
- Instant recognizability
- Hefty curb weight can be felt when pushing the Speed's capabilities
- Very poor gas mileage
- Ceiling-mounted buttons feel a bit cheap
- The sheer size of the car can be limiting in urban areas
The 2016 Bentley Mulsanne is a heroically impressive hyper-luxury limousine—particularly in Speed trim.
The Bentley Mulsanne is the pinnacle for the luxury brand: a hyper-expensive, hand-built sedan that's infinitely customizable and breathtakingly expensive. The iconic Mulsanne is the bearer for all the Bentley traditions, and is a regal and polished face for the marquee.
New for the 2015 model year was the Mulsanne Speed, a special higher-performance model that nonetheless captures all of the luxury and grace of the standard Mulsanne, while hiding a slightly darker, rowdier side.
Bentley stuffs under the hood of each Mulsanne a 6.75-liter V-8 that's an important historical displacement for Bentley, but like many modern V-8s, the Mulsanne's engine wears a pair of turbochargers. The resulting output is monstrous in standard form: 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque. The big sedan rushes up to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 184 mph.
If that type of speed isn't enough, congratulations on your life's success. Also, the Mulsanne Speed picks up from there to appease those successful buyer with the same hardware—a 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V-8—but with 530 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque instead. That's good enough for a 0-60 mph sprint in 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of 190 mph.
That 811 lb-ft of torque figure also gives the Mulsanne Speed claim to the title of the most torque from any gasoline series production car in the world (now that the Bugatti Veyron's run is finished).
All Mulsannes are equipped with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic that is calibrated to handle the car's immense torque.
A self-leveling air suspension with continuous damping control is standard equipment on all cars, notably because handling the car's immense 5,919-pound curb weight is a herculean task. Dial the adjustable suspension past comfort mode into "Bentley" or "Sport" mode (in the Speed model) and the large sedan hustles through most roads with relative ease. Bentley or Sport modes maintain a comfortable ride while allowing the car to better handle side-to-side weight transitions; Sport mode also adds a little steering heft if other modes are a little light.
In relaxed driving (and it should be very relaxed) Comfort mode is the way to go. Mulsanne Speed models aren't adorned with many cues that give its extra horsepower away, only a unique set of wheels machined from solid aluminum blocks and a darker chrome grille set it apart. On the road, the Mulsanne Speed is just as comfortable and relaxed as the other models, with just a little more pedal left for drivers. In other words, the Mulsanne Speed is all of the luxury with a little more pep, no sacrifice necessary.
The luxury of Mulsanne is immediately impressive. While the car's mission is to cater to its occupants—whether by entertaining them, coddling them, or providing a workspace—it's impeccable in its approach. At least 16 cows laid down for the floor-to-door-to-floor leather upholstery, each hide is selected for its fine grain and feel. Wood veneers—typically walnut, but others are available—wrap around the entire cabin and finely finished materials give knobs and controls a luxurious heft. Most of the switches and buttons are made from glass, which gives the feel of permanence but also lightness.
The front and rear seats are supremely comfortable, beautiful, and infinitely adjustable. Opt for the executive rear seat package and you gain reclining rear seats and iPad-based workstations that fold out of the rear of the front seats. All Mulsannes can be equipped with a champagne chiller, with matching flutes of course, that fits between the rear seats. For a car with so many chauffeur features, the front seats are just as rich and opulent as the rears—feel free to drive yourself if you like.
Befitting a car of its high price, the standard features on the Mulsanne reads like a greatest hits for luxury-car features. The flat-cut and leather-bound carpet is available in 22 shades; the seat belts are available in 23 different colors with buckles matched to the interior leather; the wood, metal, and glass switchgear; an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment and 14-speaker audio system, and so much more.
Other standard and available options include remote rear-seat control of infotainment system; acoustic glazing with infrared reflective layer; rear privacy blinds; front and rear cigar lighters with ashtrays; a pop-out tray with iPhone 5/6 or other smartphone connectivity in the center dash; CD, DVD, SD, and USB inputs; Bluetooth connectivity; and much more.
The 2016 Bentley Mulsanne hasn't been crash tested by the usual agencies, but it does offer a host of standard safety equipment, including a standard complement of airbags and traction control systems, child-seat tethers, and pre-tensioning seat belts.
If you're concerned with gas mileage, the Bentley Mulsanne may not be for you: the 2016 model rates 11 mpg city, 18 highway, 13 combined. This figure reflects the vast power output and substantial curb weight of the Mulsanne; it does, after all, feature cylinder-deactivation technology to disable four of the eight cylinders while cruising at constant speed.