by Adam Lynton
2019 sees the Bentley brand celebrate 100 years of existence, and a special version of its new Mulsanne was released as a W.O. Edition to commemorate the milestone with special badges and adornments. However, this was a special order offered to select customers, so how is the "regular" Mulsanne? Well, considering that it features a 506-horsepower 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 that sends 752 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels, and is available in an extended wheelbase configuration, we'd say it looks like a fast and uber-luxurious offering, fitting as a flagship sedan for the British marque. With an eight-speed automatic gearbox and self-leveling air suspension, it ought to be a phenomenal cruiser, too. Fighting rivals like the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Phantom, the $300,000 Mulsanne is priced like a beautiful house. So in 100 years of building exquisite automobiles, what has Bentley learned about luxury? Let's find out.
The W.O. Edition that celebrates Bentley's centenary year was obviously not available in 2018, but other than that, no major changes have been made. The W.O. Edition was limited to a run of 100 units, all of which were quickly snapped up by well-heeled collectors. Besides the special model, no other major changes were made to the 2019 model, as the Mulsanne was refreshed in 2018 with a new grille and some interior upgrades.
Only the uncultured would dare confuse a Rolls-Royce with a Bentley, but the Mulsanne's new grille can be deceiving from afar. The large round inner headlight and smaller outer headlight both surrounded by LED illumination should help clear up any confusion, though, while numerous chrome accents and the Flying B hood ornament and side-grilles - combined with the signature hip flair - make the side profile instantly recognizable as that of a Bentley. At the rear, the subtle oval tailpipes and B-shaped LED taillight inners let the peasants know they've just been overtaken by a member of the aristocracy. 20-inch wheels are standard, with various 21-inch designs available.
The Mulsanne is a stocky car, measuring 75.8 inches wide (with mirrors folded) and 219.5 inches long. Its height is 60.1 inches while the wheelbase measures 128.6. For those who truly want a Business Class airline type of seating arrangement and comfort, the Extended Wheelbase model is available with 9.8 inches more legroom. The wheelbase on this model is 138.4 inches while height increases to 60.7 inches. The length is also greater, at 229.3, but width remains the same as in the cozier model. The shorter Mulsanne weighs 5,919 lbs while the Extended Wheelbase crushes the scales at 6,019 lbs.
With a choice of 106 available colors, you may think that every taste is catered for on the Mulsanne's palette. Wrong. What if you have a trinket or item that holds a special significance to you and none of the available hues match the color exactly? Well, Bentley will happily custom engineer a paint color to perfectly match any sample you give them. 10 two-tone finishes and 25 standard options are available if you don't want to spend too much extra on your exterior aesthetics, but for ultimate bling with a touch of 'class', we'd get our Mulsanne matched to the shade of green found on a 100-dollar bill.
The Bentley Mulsanne's 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine is - despite its size - an almost whisper-quiet way to shuttle the uber-wealthy from one end of the country to the other in record time. The powerplant develops 506 hp and a whopping 752 lb-ft of torque, or over 1,000 Nm in the Queen's English. This propels it from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds (the Extended Wheelbase model is 0.2 seconds slower) and on to a top speed of 184 mph, ensuring you'll never be late for another hostile takeover or emergency board meeting. The Rolls-Royce Ghost accelerates more rapidly by comparison, completing the sprint from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, but the Mulsanne will come sailing past when the Ghost hits its 155 mph limiter. The Bentley's power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, making your chauffeur's job of shifting gears all the more simple and smooth. The Mulsanne's engine and tires have been extensively honed through countless man-hours of research and development to be as quiet as possible, in spite of the phenomenal performance, ensuring that breaking the speed limit will be all but unnoticeable for anyone but the driver. For those wanting an even more rapid experience, Bentley offers the Mulsanne Speed, reviewed separately.
One engine, transmission, and drivetrain configuration is available for the Bentley Mulsanne. A pair of turbochargers are strapped to a 6.75-liter V8 that sends 506 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels. This powerplant is incredibly strong and smooth, whisking the Mulsanne's occupants away from a standstill with no drama, just a constant yet calm wave of torque that never fades. This is also thanks to the gearbox, which engages shifts with almost imperceptible deftness, and which never struggles to find or select the correct gear, thus making the most of the available power at any speed. When one wants to take the reins in a more controlling fashion, a manual mode with steering-mounted paddles allows your driver to pick gears at will - a useful feature for more spirited driving or when overtaking the paupers of common society. For those who want a more driver-focused and higher-performing setup, Bentley will sell you a Mulsanne Speed with even more power (reviewed separately).
The Mulsanne's chassis has been carefully engineered to be as supple and absorbent over bumps as possible, allowing the outside world to intrude ever so slightly, but only over the biggest of road imperfections. With such a focus on comfort, driving dynamics ought to be completely disregarded, but Bentley has its roots in racing, and the Mulsanne can tackle a corner fairly enthusiastically, the adjustable air suspension working hard to ensure that minimal body roll is experienced. That said, it will never be as composed or as lithe around corners as a BMW 7 Series or a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and when compared to cars like these, body roll is actually quite excessive. Despite its rear-wheel-drive layout, the Mulsanne doesn't really tolerate hooliganism, even when you put your foot flat from a standstill. Everything about the stability control has been tuned to ensure a luxurious ride, no matter how you drive. In terms of braking, a car that weighs around 6,000 lbs needs strong stopping power and the Mulsanne delivers, with smooth, predictable stops every time. Steering is sufficiently weighted too, allowing lane changes and cornering maneuvers to be executed with grace. As good as the car is, the Rolls-Royce Phantom's engineers have created an even more comfortable car to be driven in, and those seeking ultimate luxury and insulation from the road would be better off in one of these.
When you can purchase gas stations at will, fuel economy is not a major concern, but for the sake of interest, the Mulsanne scored 10/16/12 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles in EPA testing. By comparison, the Rolls Royce Phantom scored 12/20/14 mpg on the same cycles. With a 25.4-gallon gas tank in the Bentley, you can expect roughly 304.8 miles of wafting before your driver will inform you that he needs to make a stop.
With serial killer-like attention to detail and expert craftsmanship, the Mulsanne's interior is finished exceptionally, with every stitch and panel gap perfectly measured and assembled. An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display, WiFi, quad-zone climate control, and even optional bottle coolers make the Mulsanne an exquisite place to be. With power-adjustment for the seating, a driver of any height will find a commanding position from which to steer this land yacht, which is so spacious that Extended Wheelbase versions can allow rear occupants to stretch out with a pair of motorized leg rests. Even in the regular Mulsanne, headroom and legroom are abundant for all occupants. In terms of placing the car on the road, large glass panes make visibility rather good, but this can be hampered by the optional rear blinds. Luckily, blind-spot monitoring fixes this potential problem.
The Mulsanne is sold as standard with two rows, the rear of which is made up of a bench seat to accommodate a total of five occupants in the cabin. However, you can specify individual seating and an extending center console at the back. This allows for more comfort and options including the bottle chiller, foldable trays, and more. With the two individual seats at the rear, legroom is increased and optional leg rests can be added. Thanks to wide openings, occupants at the front or the rear of the car will find getting in and out of the Mulsanne to be a graceful affair. Even with the rear sunroof option, the headroom is similarly accommodating for all.
Plastic? What on Earth is that? The Mulsanne is lavishly appointed with only the finest materials, including 24 standard colors of leather, 22 seatbelt colors, and at least 12 wood veneer options. Glass-like switchgear and turned metal trim pieces are also a feature. Even the floor can be had with lambswool trimming, while the trunk is upholstered in leather. In terms of leather colors, you can have monotone, duo-tone, or even custom finishings with your own design of stitching. As with the exterior paint, Bentley's craftsmen and -women can match your Mulsanne's leather to accurately mirror the color of any sample you provide.
Both the Mulsanne and the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase have the same cargo capacity at 15.7 cubic feet, which seems like a typo until you open the trunk. It is deceivingly small for such a large vehicle, but at least if you need to carry more than two large suitcases in your Bentley, you can afford to have another car follow you with the extra luggage.
Fortunately, the interior has a number of small bins and pockets for holding wallets and phones. Cup holders for the front and rear occupants are also provided, but if you choose to reduce seating to four, the recesses for cups or glasses are rather shallow. Then again, it's unlikely that a car like this will be driven too aggressively. The center armrests for both the front and back also have additional bins in conjunction with the conventional glovebox.
A luxury car like the Mulsanne is well equipped with numerous standard and available features to maximize comfort. Among the standard features are a rearview camera, a power trunk lid, quad-zone climate control, heated seats front and rear, automatic LED headlights and taillamps, auto windshield wipers, and driver aids like automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, park sensors, and a blind-spot monitoring system. Optional features include adaptive cruise control, ventilated seats all around with massaging, electrically-operated rear blinds, a rear sunroof, and a bottle cooler. Foldable picnic table trays and extended leg rests are also available when the rear bench seat is exchanged for two individual bucket seats as in the Extended Wheelbase model. Taking a page out of Rolls-Royce's book, bespoke umbrellas can also be included with the car.
An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with 14 speakers and navigation is standard and includes Bluetooth connectivity with Apple CarPlay. Android Auto does not feature, but SiriusXM satellite radio is standard. The system also features a 60GB hard drive, CD compatibility, two SD card slots, and voice control. USB connectivity, a six-disc DVD changer, and a WiFi hotspot are also standard. An optional "Naim for Bentley" audio upgrade with 20 speakers is also available. A pair of detachable 10.4-inch rear entertainment displays can also be specced and used as tablets when media is not being viewed in the back seat.
The Mulsanne has not been rated by J.D. Power for reliability, but has not been subject to any recalls thus far either. In the event of a problem, Bentley covers the Mulsanne from bumper to bumper for three years with unlimited mileage. A corrosion and drivetrain warranty also covers the car for the same period, while complimentary maintenance and roadside assistance are also included for three years.
The Bentley Mulsanne has not yet been rated by either the NHTSA nor the IIHS, which is not unusual for a hyper-expensive luxury vehicle. Europe's NCAP rating agency has also not crash-tested the car.
The Bentley Mulsanne's standard driver-assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear park sensors, hill-start assist, and forward-collision warning; adaptive radar-guided cruise control is optional. Dual front- and side-impact airbags, as well as curtain airbags, are included, while seatbelt pre-tensioners are also standard. A tire-pressure monitoring system is standard too. Continuous Damping Control adjusts the air suspension to ensure optimal stability over various surfaces. Commonplace features like stability control and electronic brake-force distribution are also included.
The 2019 Mulsanne will satisfy almost all those with deep pockets who are looking for supreme luxury and comfort in a package that is also capable of strong acceleration, and the option of full customization of almost every detail. With the Extended Wheelbase model, you can even stretch out as you would in a reclining Business Class airline seat. However, the trunk is a little small, and body roll can get out of hand through the most spirited of cornering maneuvers. At a base price of $304,670 before destination charges and options, the Bentley is considerably cheaper than the Rolls-Royce Phantom - but, the Rolls does provide a greater sense of occasion and makes occupants feel truly special. If you don't like the BMW-owned Roller for some reason, the Bentley should be satisfactory, but for anyone else, the Phantom is the ultimate and has been for years. Money no object, we'd skip over the Mulsanne.
The 6.75-liter Bentley Mulsanne starts at $304,670 before Bentley's $2,725 destination charge, the gas-guzzler tax. and other charges. The Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase model starts from $361,500 before additional charges, and with all available options like the upgraded audio system, airline-style rear seats, 21-inch wheels, bespoke city umbrellas, and refrigerated bottle chiller fitted, the final price will easily exceed $400,000.
The Mulsanne is available in two trims: Mulsanne and Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase. The regular Mulsanne features 20-inch wheels, dynamic adjustable air suspension, and a 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8. This sends 506 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed shiftable automatic gearbox. 25 hand-painted and polished colors are available from the standard options list, but for an added fee, that number more than quadruples. Automatic LED headlights, keyless entry, push-to-start, park sensors, and a power trunk lid are standard. The interior is fully trimmed in leather with a choice of 24 standard colors. Various types of wood are also available to choose from. In terms of features, the Mulsanne is fitted with 14-way power-adjustable heated front seats with lumbar support. The rear seats are also heated with power-adjustment, with ventilation and massage functions available. Quad-zone climate control is standard. The infotainment system features an eight-inch touchscreen with 14 speakers, with a 20-speaker Naim upgrade available. As standard, a bench seat is fitted to the rear, with two individual rear seats optional. The Extended Wheelbase version is almost identical, but is not available with the bench seat and has 9.8 inches more legroom and rear curtain blinds.
The Mulsanne is available with a number of packages to perfectly tailor the car to your needs. The Comfort Specification package is a worthy choice at $5,105 and includes ventilation for the front and rear seats as well as a massage function. The Entertainment Specification is a whopping $20,850 and features the Naim 20-speaker audio upgrade, veneered retractable picnic tables, and twin 10.4-inch electrically deployable tablets. If you spec the Comfort Specification package on the Extended Wheelbase model, Bentley will add airline-style reclining seats with extended leg rests, as well as the features of the regular Mulsanne's comfort package. This package is naturally more expensive here, and will add $13,670 to your bill. Other packages are also available to further elevate the quality of interior materials and add bigger wheels.
For ultimate comfort and luxury, we would go straight for the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase. In this spec, an additional 9.8 inches of legroom are added, as well as electrically-operated rear curtain blinds. We'd spec the Comfort Specification package with its airline-style reclining seats that are both heated and ventilated and feature a massage function and extended leg rests. The Entertainment Specification package is also worth considering, adding upgraded audio and dual 10.4-inch retractable tablets. All in, this model will cost close to $400,000 but offers supreme luxury and style for the driven.
The Bentley Mulsanne is touted as the brand's flagship luxury sedan, and as such is the most luxurious and lavishly appointed vehicle in their lineup. When compared to the best that Rolls-Royce has to offer, however, the Bentley falls behind in terms of power (the Phantom has 563 hp compared to the Mulsanne's 505), luxury, and comfort. The Phantom road-scanning camera pre-adjusts the air suspension system to completely isolate occupants from any imperfections, something the Bentley doesn't offer. The Rolls also offers additional features like cigar humidors, a starlight headliner, and anything you can think of, for a price. For true customization and opulence, the Bentley is not in the same league as the Phantom, and although the Rolls is more expensive, starting at $450,000 compared to the Mulsanne's base price of $304,670, true luxury is priceless. Money no object, the Phantom is the one to have.
Both luxury limo-like uber sedans, the Mulsanne can be compared to the smaller Flying Spur, as a number of features are shared, including optional individual rear seats, a bottle chiller, and numerous color and finish options. The Flying Spur is the more powerful of the two, available with an optional 626 hp W12 engine. Even in base form, the Flying Spur is not far off with just five horsepower less than the Mulsanne's 505 hp. It's also lighter and therefore more dynamic, and with S versions available, becomes more driver-focused. However, the extravagance of the Mulsanne's Extended Wheelbase model can't be matched by the Flying Spur. With extended leg rests, privacy blinds, and better rear-seat entertainment options, the Mulsanne is certainly the better car for those who like being driven. If you prefer getting behind the wheel yourself on the odd occasion, the Flying Spur is the better choice.