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For the man who wants to drive his own massive ultra-luxury sedan instead of turning the keys over to a chauffeur, there is the Bentley Mulsanne.
Sometimes not showing off just won't cut. Sometimes you're dealing with a lady who is used to the finer things in life, and for these situations, there is the Bentley Mulsanne
. To be fair, for this kind of money, it would be easy to show off a lot more than this. The Mulsanne is actually fairly restrained for its price range, and if they made interiors like this for the Camry, it might be worth looking into. But they don't, and frankly, that's probably a good thing.
The Mulsanne nameplate was first launched in 1980, and was Bentley
's flagship then as well. The name is meant to highlight Bentley's motorsport heritage. It is named for a straight section of the La Sarthe track at Le Mans where the big Bentley Blower race cars used to use their high top speed to gain an advantage. Bentley has quite a few Le Mans victories under its belt, just not for any of the years when they produced a car called Mulsanne. The original Mulsanne was not really one of its greatest cars, but then, those weren't the company's greatest years either.
The car was produced from 1980 until 1992, it was then updated and renamed the Turbo R before being replaced by the Arnage, which would also hang around the lineup until it was more than a little past its prime. The Arnage came out right as Bentley was being handed over to VW and updated, but it was still very much an old-style Bentley, and it looked out of place in the lineup next to the very modern Continental. So Bentley finally brought out a whole new flagship sedan in 2010, and it is truly a thing of beauty. It is, unfortunately, kind of a beauty which is not done justice by photographs.
The giant headlights always somehow look terribly out of place on the car when viewed in two dimensions. See one in person and I promise you, they will make much more sense. The car's imposing nature in general cannot be fully realized without standing next to it, but this could really be said of any ultra-luxury sedan. The engine is a 6 3/4-liter twin-turbo V8 which produces 505 horsepower and 752 lb-ft of torque. That is a hell of a lot, but we are talking about a car which weighs just north of 6,000lbs. This is still a quick car, the 4.9-second 0-60 time is quite impressive for something bigger than my house, but flat-out speed really isn't what it's for.
That said, this is still meant to be a driver's car, should the owner choose to drive it. This is why Bentley says the Mulsanne isn't really a direct competitor to the Rolls-Royce Phantom
. A Phantom is something you're meant to experience from the back seat, whereas Bentley has made sure that the driver is as pampered as the passengers in a Mulsanne. Though they don't compete directly, the Mulsanne enjoys the same advantage which has made the Phantom the unrivaled leader in its segment. Both take an English approach to luxury and are aided by that German attention to detail. Indeed, the Mulsanne has a very aristocratic and old money feeling to it.
The Continental, fantastic car though it may be, has a whiff of new money about it. If you want to impress your date with your refined tastes, rather than the simple ability to throw cash around, the Mulsanne is the more sophisticated choice. Of course the Mulsanne costs noticeably more as well, at about $300,000 it adds more than $100,000 to the price of a Continental Flying Spur. One could make the case that simply buying a luxury marque's most expensive model doesn't exactly require discerning taste. But with the much flashier (although still excellent) Phantom going for about the same price, it takes the ability to see past such things in order to go for the Mulsanne.
Your date will be especially impressed by the interior of the car. It has all of that wood and leather that you demand from a Bentley sedan, and fantastic attention has been paid to things like the switches and the organ stop pulls which control the vents. It was important, you understand, for them to have the proper weight behind them to convey the seriousness with which they were built. The Mulsanne is the car to have if you pick up your dates at embassy cocktail parties. It is the thinking man's ultra-luxury sedan, and your blue-blooded date is sure to recognize this.