- Luxurious leathers, woods, and metals everywhere
- Brilliant ride quality
- Speed models handle impressively for the size
- 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 Mulsanne is the best Bentley yet, hand-built to exacting specifications and customizable with nearly anything you can imagine. The iconically styled Mulsanne carries on all the marque's traditions to present a regal, polished face to the world.
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.
Under the hood of the Bentley Mulsanne is a 6.75-liter V-8 engine—an important historical displacement for Bentley—but, like many modern V-8s, wearing a pair of turbochargers. The resulting output is monstrous in standard form: 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque. The resulting acceleration is brisk, reaching 60 mph from rest in just 5.1 seconds, 100 mph in 11.6 seconds, and a top speed of 184 mph.
Opt for the Mulsanne Speed, however, and you’ll get something even more special—and even quicker. Under the hood lies a very similar 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, but it has been re-worked to deliver greater power with utter smoothness and reliability. The resulting 530 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque give the Mulsanne Speed plenty of, well, speed. Running up to 60 mph happens in 4.8 seconds, 0-100 mph takes 11.1 seconds, and the top speed is 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).
The 8-speed automatic gearbox in the Mulsanne is smooth in standard form. In the Speed, it’s calibrated to take advantage of the increase torque.
All Mulsannes get standard self-leveling air suspension with continuous damping control, which handles the car’s 5,919-pound curb weight admirably even in comfort mode, and adjusts to an even more controlled setting with Bentley or, for the Speed, Sport mode selected. When attempting to hustle the large Mulsanne Speed through curvier sections of highway, the Bentley or Sport modes are preferable, as they maintain ride comfort while better enabling the side-to-side transitions required at a brisk pace. In the Mulsanne Speed, Sport mode also adds heft to the steering, improving feel.
Around town, however, Comfort mode is the preferred mode of travel, and here’s where the true brilliance of the Mulsanne Speed shines through: apart from a unique set of wheels (machined from solid blocks of aluminum) and a darker chrome grille, there’s very little visually to distinguish the Mulsanne Speed from the standard Mulsanne. On the road, there’s nothing to keep the Mulsanne Speed from accessing all of the comfort and elegance of the standard car—it just holds a little more pace in reserve. In other words, the Speed envelops the standard Mulsanne’s capabilities without sacrificing anything.
Those shared capabilities are impressive, too, and most of them relate to coddling occupants, entertaining them, or getting work done. No fewer than 16 full cow hides constitute the door-to-door, floor-to-ceiling leather upholstery, each hand-selected for its fine grain and feel. Rich wood veneers (typically walnut, but many others are available) wrap around the entire cabin. Finely finished metals lend substance and heft to vent pulls and knobs. Switches and buttons are largely made of glass, another material choice that lends to the air of permanence and substance that abounds in the Mulsanne.
Seating, front and rear, is eminently comfortable, infinitely adjustable, and truly beautiful. 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 are available with a bottle cooler (for wine or champagne) with matching flutes that sit between the rear passengers. The front seat is no help-only zone, either: it’s rich and lavish and as well-finished as the rest of the car.
Reading out the standard features list of the Bentley Mulsanne is an exercise in excess, too. A specially developed, flat-cut and leather-bound carpet ensconces the interior floor, available in 22 colors; 23 seat belt colors are available, with buckles color-matched to the hides selected; the aforementioned wood, metal, and glass trim and switchgear elements; the driver’s panel’s inverted aviation-style gauges; an 8.0-inch display for the infotainment system, 14-speaker audio system, and 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 front driver and passenger airbags; head and thorax airbags for front and rear passengers; seatbelts with pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and force limiters; ISOFIX child seat tethers; and a standard interior volumetric alarm system.
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.