by Sebastian Cenizo
Nothing quite says old-school elegance like a Bentley. While competitors like Rolls-Royce have chosen to modernize designs, the Bentley brand still gives you the Mulsanne in a package that is instantly recognizable as an evolution of the original classic. The Mulsanne is one of the brand's core models and the ultimate expression of luxury as befits a flagship sedan like this. Under the regal hood is a 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 506 horsepower and 752 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic gearbox sits in the middle, while power is directed to the rear wheels. So, is the Mulsanne still a classic, or has it become a relic when compared alongside vehicles like the Rolls-Royce Phantom?
For 2020, the Bentley Mulsanne remains largely unchanged, but the W.O. Edition that we saw last year has been cut from the lineup, as that was a special model built to celebrate Bentley's centenary.
6.8-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
Distinguishing between model years can be a bit tricky with the Mulsanne, it wasn't until 2018 when a comprehensive refresh of the original design yielded some clear updates. The Mulsanne manages to look contemporary without sacrificing heritage, and the rounded LED headlights are the most obvious expression of this, along with the "Flying B" hood ornament. Chrome is clearly not in short supply at the Bentley factory, with the brightwork adorning almost every panel. 20-inch wheels are standard with 21s available, and the rear features an oval pair of exhaust pipes.
The Mulsanne is a rather large vehicle, measuring 219.5 inches long and 75.8 inches across with the mirrors folded in. The wheelbase is 128.6 inches while height measures 60.1 inches. Curb weight starts at a hefty 5,919 pounds on the regular Mulsanne, but a longer version is available too. The Extended Wheelbase model measures 229.3 inches with a wheelbase of 138.4, with height slightly greater too, measuring 60.7 inches. Curb weight on this model starts at 6,019 lbs.
A total of 25 "standard" color choices are available for the Mulsanne, along with ten two-tone finishes as options, but Bentley will custom engineer any finish you like if none of these are to your taste. A large range of blacks, blues, greens, oranges, and more are available, but some of the shades that we like include Verdant Green, Claret by Mulliner, Ice Gray, and Monaco Yellow, although that last option may be too extreme for traditionalists. Duo-tone finishes include Black Sapphire over Blue Crystal, Light Emerald over Alpine Green, Havana over Arabica, Onyx over Dragon Red II, and Fountain Blue over Meteor, which is probably one of the classiest finishes available.
Despite a notably hefty curb weight measurement, the Mulsanne provides impressive performance and handling, as you'd expect from a vehicle with a rich racing heritage. The 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 in the front of the Bentley Mulsanne sends power to the rear wheels exclusively via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The power plant produces 506 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque, allowing the luxury limo to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. Top speed is also impressive, with the limiter offering a discreet "ahem" at 184 mph. The Extended Wheelbase, despite its increased weight and size, manages the same top-end speed but lags slightly in the sprint from 0-60 mph, getting there two tenths of a second later than the regular model. In comparison to the Rolls-Royce Ghost, the Mulsanne is almost 30 mph faster at the top, but cannot match the Ghost's 4.7-second sprint time. If you must have the fastest Mulsanne that Bentley offers, the Mulsanne Speed is available, a model that we review separately.
Just one engine and transmission configuration is on offer here, and with such impressive performance, it's tough to judge Bentley for this. The 6.75-liter V8 in the Mulsanne is aided by a pair of turbochargers and produces 506 horses and 752 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic controls shifts as you'd expect, since nobody who can afford to be driven in one of these would risk spilling their champagne as a result of a jerky manual gear shift. As you can guess, the auto is remarkably smooth and refined and manages gear changes with efficiency and slick operation. The engine is similarly masterful, with a strong presence of power but little in the way of noise or vibration. The entire powertrain is designed to be smooth, strong, and totally refined. Due in part to the engine's capacity, the Mulsanne feels hurried rather than fast but isn't wanting for low-end torque nor top-end grunt. The gearbox also offers a manual mode with steering-mounted shifters letting the driver take full control of the shifts.
The tires on the Mulsanne are grippy, sure, but the real talking point is how quiet they are. After all, there's no point in ensuring the engine is all but silent when road noise permeates the cabin. This sets the tone for everything else that has gone into developing the Mulsanne, a vehicle that offers impressive levels of agility and response yet still calms and soothes when all you want is a quiet cruise. Granted, while the Mulsanne is more athletic than its Rolls-Royce counterpart, it is still no boy-racer, and although the adaptive air suspension reigns body roll in with poise, you won't find a Mulsanne drifting through a bend with the rear tires ablaze. The focus is certainly more biased towards passenger comfort and calm, and the Mulsanne delivers, with small corrugations, large bumps, and uneven surfaces all being minor inconveniences that only those watching the tarmac ahead will be aware of. While you're in the back relaxing, your driver is questioning whether the bump you just went over was really as big as he thought it was. The brakes are similarly well-adjusted, offering smooth but strong stops, but something like a Rolls-Royce Phantom is arguably even more adept at being unnaturally calm and unflustered.
As you'd expect from an engine that carries 6.75 liters of displacement along with a pair of turbochargers, fuel economy is the only stumbling block to the perfect road-trip companion's goal of providing ultimate comfort. With official EPA figures of 10/16/12 mpg, the 25.4-gallon gas tank runs out sooner rather than later, with mixed range estimated at around 305 miles - not that this is likely to deter any potential buyers.
If you want a good idea of what $300,000 worth of British luxury buys you, the cabin of the Mulsanne will quickly bring you up to speed. Build quality is utterly impeccable, with every last switch, stitch, and panel finished with millimetric precision. There's plenty of real estate inside too, with every occupant able to relax in comfort. The LWB version is obviously even better for rear passengers in this regard, but no one in any Bentley Mulsanne variant is likely to ever complain about a lack of comfort in any of the seats. Notable standard features include quad-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and heated seats for all.
The Mulsanne is a five-seater in standard configuration, but real luxury is unlocked by opting for individual rear seats that reduce seating capacity to four. Power adjustments for the seats mean that every occupant will be comfortable and well-supported, regardless of body type, while the driver gets a good, commanding view of the outside obstacles. Visibility in most directions is good too, but piloting such a large vehicle may require some acclimatization. Ingress and egress are good, as you'd expect of a vehicle designed to facilitate classy red carpet and royal wedding entrances.
As one would expect, cheap materials in the Mulsanne are not scarce - they simply don't feature here. Everything is made from leather, wood, aluminum, lambswool - anything but plastic. Leather can be had in a wide variety of colors, including Cognac, Hotspur, Magnolia, Portland, Saffron, Beluga, Anthracite, and Burnt Oak. Various wood veneers can be selected from a range that includes finishes like Birds Eye Maple, Burr Walnut, Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus, Liquid Amber, and Olive Ash. Various chrome inlays can be added too, and one of the available packages also offers knurled organ air vent switchgear.
Despite its length, the designers of the Mulsanne opted to cut no corners with interior space and comfort, and the trunk thus misses out on being great, offering just 14.5 cubic feet of volume, regardless of which model you pick. This is enough for a pair of full-size suitcases but not much else.
In the cabin, various storage options are available. With the individual rear seats, a center console can be specced in the back with additional storage, but even in standard configuration, you get cupholders in both rows, various bins and cubbies, and a decent glovebox. The door pockets, however, are barely big enough for a wallet.
As standard, the Mulsanne features a rearview camera with parking sensors at the front and the rear, while a power trunk lid and quad-zone climate control enhance convenience and comfort respectively. Heated seats are also standard for all passengers, as are features like adaptive LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking. Options are numerous and include ventilated and massaging seats, electric rear window blinds, a rear sunroof, and a bottle chiller. You can also spec adaptive cruise control for further peace of mind and comfort on the open road.
For such a large car with such a wealth of space and features, the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display in the Mulsanne seems a little underwhelming. Nevertheless, numerous features bolster the system's credibility, including navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay. Android Auto is a chink in the system's armor, as it is not offered. Fortunately, you do get a 60 GB hard drive, a pair of SD card slots, and voice control. Options include a rear-seat entertainment system with a pair of tablet-like detachable 10.4-inch screens and a 20-speaker Naim for Bentley premium sound system.
The Mulsanne has been excellent thus far, with no recalls being issued for the vehicle in either 2020 or 2019 guise.
Should any issues crop up, a limited and powertrain warranty has you covered for the first three years of ownership with no mileage limits. Complimentary scheduled maintenance is also included for the first year or the first 10,000 miles, whichever arrives earlier.
Cars with such large price tags are usually not crashed for safety tests and the Mulsanne is no different. Fortunately, numerous safety features will keep all occupants safe.
As standard, the Mulsanne comes with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, hill start assist, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a suite of airbags that includes frontal, side-impact, and curtain airbags. Adaptive LED headlights are also included along with the usual traction and stability control systems, but adaptive cruise control is an optional add-on feature.
The Bentley Mulsanne is arguably the best way to have your cake and eat it - provided your pockets are deeper than the Mariana Trench. The Mulsanne offers impressive athleticism and agility, along with almost unbeatable luxury and lavish style. While most are likely to enjoy the Mulsanne from the back seat, the driver's seat is by no means a dull place to be either. The car is powerful, quiet, smooth, and just refined on the whole. That said, it's not a perfect vehicle, suffering from a slightly dated list of standard and available features, and a relatively small trunk. Also, despite its best efforts, the Mulsanne is not the ultimate luxury limo. It is admirable that the Mulsanne channels some of its racing pedigree into the Mulsanne, but that also means that the car is hindered compared to the Rolls-Royce offerings when it comes to outright luxury and opulence. If you want a car for the corners, a $300,000 luxury sedan is unlikely to be the vehicle of choice. Thus, we'd rather buy a Phantom and buy something meant for fast fun as a further addition to our Malibu garage.
The 2020 Mulsanne starts at a base price of $310,800 before a destination charge of $2,725. This does not take into account gas guzzler tax or other charges. The Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase is considerably pricier, starting at around $365,000. With numerous options and bespoke individualization options available, it wouldn't take much to spend well over $400,000 on a fully loaded model.
The 2020 Bentley Mulsanne is available in just two trims: Mulsanne and Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase. Each is powered by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with 506 hp and 725 lb-ft of torque, all of which is fed to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. 20-inch wheels are fitted as standard along with an adaptive air suspension system and LED headlights and taillights. Heated seats are also standard, and numerous paint finishes, wood veneers, and leather colors are available. Further options include a pair of 10.4-inch rear-seat touchscreen displays that can be detached for use as tablets. Also available are ventilated seats with a massaging function, and a 20-speaker Naim sound system that builds on a standard eight-inch touchscreen display with a hard drive, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The Extended Wheelbase version is identical to the base variant but comes with individual rear seats as standard with no bench option. It also gets electric rear blinds, and the obvious advantage of greater legroom.
Bentley's packages are listed as specifications, just another way to distance the brand from commonplace and banal automakers. The Comfort Specification adds ventilation and massaging to front and rear seats, along with more comfortable headrests, while the Premier Specification adds various jewelry-like finishes to the interior and exterior along with the "Flying B" hood ornament. Two umbrellas, a valet key, and a remote garage door opener are added here too. The Mulliner Driving package adds 21-inch wheels, unique treadplates, sport-tuned suspension, diamond-quilted seats and door panels, a knurled gear-lever, and drilled alloy pedals. Adaptive cruise control and a front camera are also available, with the latter designed to aid with safely extricating the long hood of the Mulsanne from a driveway where visibility may be impaired.
If you're in the market for a car like this, your interest likely lies with the Mulsanne's ability as a comfortable and luxurious ferry from one lavish location to the next. Thus, we'd opt for the Extended Wheelbase model. Sure, you lose one seat, but nobody who buys a Bentley is short of other cars to bring their friends along with on trips. Furthermore, the increased rear legroom and rear curtain blinds add even more in the way of comfort for the discerning oligarch. With rear-seat comfort in mind, we'd also add the Entertainment package with its dual rear screens/tablets. We would also be sure not to miss out on adding ventilation and massaging functions to the seats.
Not that anyone is likely to care, but the Rolls-Royce Ghost is more expensive than the Mulsanne, albeit only just. The Ghost starts at $311,900, but the extended wheelbase variant is cheaper than the Mulsanne of the same type, with a starting price of $345,900. So which is better? Well, the Rolls uses a similarly large engine, with a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 delivering 563 hp and 605 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. However, performance is not the reason that we'd opt for the Ghost. This vehicle boasts a preemptive adaptive suspension setup, a starlit headliner, and even the option of a bespoke addition as chosen by the buyer. The Rolls is simply more comfortable, more serene, and more opulent. At this level, excellence must be flawless, and the Ghost delivers the ultimate in terms of luxury. Hence, we'd rather have an RR badge on our limo.
The Flying Spur is another of the Bentley brand's luxury sedans, but it is fairly different in a number of ways. The Flying Spur is a little sportier, offering up to 626 hp from a twin-turbo W12. This model also weighs less and is dimensionally smaller than the Mulsanne and isn't available in the extended-wheelbase format, thus highlighting that this model aims to be defter in terms of performance. Another clue to this model's sporting ambitions is that it's largely based on the Continental GT coupe. As a smaller vehicle, it is also more affordable, starting at $214,600 - almost $100,000 cheaper than the Mulsanne. Essentially, the choice here is fairly simple: if you want supreme luxury with a Bentley badge, the Mulsanne is your chariot of choice. If you prefer spirited drives to be even more exciting, the Flying Spur is the one for you.
Check out some informative Bentley Mulsanne video reviews below.