The pinnacle of Bentley luxury gets tweaked body styling, interior décor and some tech stuff too! Check out our 2017 Bentley Mulsanne review!
The ultra-luxury automotive segment is mainly dominated by two giants! Two that previously belonged under the same umbrella and their similarities don’t end there. Both build monuments of motion, in factories only 300 kilmetres apart and despite their British roots, are currently owned by German conglomerates and now, pose as rivals. Their names…Rolls-Royce and Bentley!
Bentley’s flagship is the Mulsanne. Its sheer size and price are overwhelming and purchasing one can be considered a great charity to oneself. But it wasn’t free from fault. For 2017, the Bentley comes with tweaks to the face, fuselage and digital works. Here’s what it’s like to own and drive a royal chariot of the modern era called the Mulsanne!
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
It’s a momentous occasion to see a Bentley Mulsanne pass. It moves down the street, with sheer authority and poise, leaving you pondering who the occupants were? A tycoon perhaps, a celebrity or your friendly-neighborhood auto journalist. Either which way, it’s someone you’d want to be.
This effect is neither a mistake, a matter of mystery nor a child of chance! It has decidedly been designed to be this rolling piece of grandeur. Bentley have achieved that by making it big, broad and full of brightwork! The imposing face can be credited to the tall, upright grille with it lustrous stainless steel finish and two sets of round headlamps that form the magnetic eyes of the beauty. It is followed by acres of flat body panels – finished with exquisite paintwork – with a gentle hump over the rear wheels and a tapering rear end.
The revamp brings few changes! A more planted stance is delivered thanks to a wider radiator grille which has stainless steel vertical vanes instead of the predecessor’s mesh grille and the wider grilles and front bumper down low. The daylight-running LED rims now align with the intelligent main lamps that adjust range to city and highway situations automatically and the washers have been cleverly concealed behind the pop-up bright chrome discs.
Around the corner of those front bumpers, wheel wells that house standard 20-inch wheels. But as a Bentley customers I’m guessing it’s hard not to say yes to the options, so getting the 21-inch wheels, fitted with 265/40 ZR 21 tyres is imperative. It is available in three styles, but you got to love the shiny silver dinner plate design seen here, as compared to the spidery spoke design on other alloys.
The brightware continues on either side of the Mulsanne with a new B-shaped wing vent incorporated into the chrome strips that underline the door panels and at the rear, the 3-dimensional form of the Bentley Flying ‘B’ replace the stacked triple ellipse design for the lamps! I like how they’ve placed ‘B’s all over!
Bentley has added two more to the multitude of exterior colours, namely Rose Gold and Julep. So you won’t have trouble getting one that matches your personality, but if I were you I’d go with a dual-tone livery.
It’s important to note having it parked away from traffic allows the complete opening of the doors which facilitates a swift and graceful entry/exit. On the inside, it’s grand, its exquisite and its rich and you better be dressed for the black tie journey, else you’d look and feel out of place. You should know that it takes more than 150 hours to create the sumptuous soft-touch upholstery seen on the seats, doors and dashboard. Though much of it is new, the difference is almost imperceptible…all we know is it’s very accommodating and lavish thanks to the available space and power adjustments. The seats can now be had with a Fluted, or Quilted design and you have a choice of 24 hide colours. Again, duo-tone finishes are our choice! Also, in the driver’s seat, you sit unexpectedly higher, mid-way between car and crossover!
And the wood! It’s neither faux, nor sparse, it’s in chunky and all over the cabin – consisting of 40 separate pieces from a choice of 13 different veneers.
The rest of the interior is characterized by the 4-spoke steering wheel, polished stainless steel and glass switchgear, traditional knurled controls and deep-pile carpets that are not your typical IKEA variety, but they are so soft and squishy, you’d refrain from stepping on them.
However, in the rear cabin is where you want to be. It’s spacious, cozy and you can exercise your capitalist actions in ease thanks to a fold out wooden table. You can also opt for the 250 mm wheelbase extension (from 3,266 mm up to 3,516 mm) for that true business-class travel.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
As I started driving, I found that the consequence of having ample interior room is a large external footprint, which means…you need to drive with caution. But the steering is so buttery light, it makes less of a task. It’s on the highway where it’s most comfortable, where its drives like a luxury locomotive that cannot be perturbed by vehicle or surroundings, almost.
And that hushed cabin and soft ride quality you expect from a near- 2 million dirham car, you get here! With heavily padded panels, double pane glass, insulated tyres and an engine that loves low rpms you are guaranteed a silent journey, while ride compliance comes from pillow-like air suspension system with Continuous Damping Control that absorbs the effects of broken bits of tarmac. Dare I say, it does feel a tad stiffer – read sportier – than that of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but rest assured, your drink won’t be spilt!
Speed is also something the Mulsanne manages easy thanks to its potent V8. The right pedal is linked to a traditional 6 ¾-litre engine prepped by twin turbo chargers that puts you in command of 505 horses…and 1020 Nm – the most torque in a production car, if you discount the Bugatti Veyron. So if you really want to gun it, you can…getting to 100 km/h in just 5.3 seconds, all the way upto a top speed of 296 km/h.
If you are one to rally for sustainability, hauling a 2.5 ton metal contraption is perhaps the worst way to convey your intentions. However, unlike the 170 world leaders that were being flown down in their individual jets for the climate change summit, asking the people to be frugal, the Mulsanne is more honest and less ironic! The 15.0 litres/100km is an optimistic but reachable figure, the 342g/km emissions adds to green houses gases.
FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
In an age where the Mercedes S-class has two very large infotainment screens and even the cheaper Tesla Model 3 has a 15-inch variety, the decently sized 8″ touch screen doesn’t suffice…it’s a bit of a technological dinosaur, especially at this price point. You do get 4G connectivity and Apple CarPlay though, but no Google Maps navigation…atleast not for this region. Smart Devices can be connected via Bluetooth or chargeable USB ports in the Media Drawer or glove box. An in-car Wi-Fi hotspot provides high speed access for eight such devices. It’s even got 60 GB solid-state hard drive to rip music, which you can play using Naim audio system – Bentley’s trusted sound source. It has been spec’ed with 20 speakers, 20 channels with a 2,200 watt amplifier that makes music loud and clear.
The optional Bentley Theatre rear seat entertainment system features twin 10.4-inch touch screen tablets which can also be removed from the car. It too gets 32 GB of storage (expandable to 128 GB), USB ports and a front-facing camera for that quintessential car selfie.
You can also equip it with a fridge with space for a large bottle and a couple of Champagne flutes which will turn your business meeting into a soiree.
The 443-litre cargo capacity, may be smaller than that of a Nissan Sunny, but it’s all the boot space you want.
So after a 400-hour production journey, which includes inspection by hand and eye, 5,800 individual welds and contrast stitching that takes 37 long hours, you end up with an imposing and exclusive larger-than-large full-size sedan that wears a badge that speaks of heritage and wealth, has a cossetting interior and the haste of 505 horses. The 2017 adjustments are little, and 8-inch screen isn’t enough, but otherwise, it’s only a question of an unexpected inheritance that separates you from this beauty!
After lacquering, each Mulsanne is fine-sanded before being polished with lamb’s wool for 12 hours to achieve an that highly reflective ‘Bentley Mirror Finish’
Body type: 5-seater; 4-door ultra-premium full-size sedan
Engine: Front-engine; twin-turbo 6.75-litre V8; all-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Peak output: 505bhp @ 4,000rpm; 1020Nm @ 1,750rpm
0 to 100km/h: 5.3 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 296 km/h (drag limited; claimed)
Price: Starting at Dh1.5 million and a lot of courage!
Pros: Visual grandeur; cosseting interior; endless customisations; relentless power
Cons: Pricey; tiny infotainment screen; the Bentayga SUV is the Bentley of the season