TEST DRIVE: Here's Why The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne Is Worth $347,000

2013 bentley mulsanne

Photo: Alex Davies

We recently spent five days with a brand new Bentley Mulsanne. After nearly a week of driving it around New York City and its suburbs, we were very impressed.The 2013 Mulsanne starts at $296,000; our dark green version of the luxury ride was worth $347,870. It’s a big, gorgeous car whose true beauty is in its details.

Jump to photos of the Mulsanne >>

It is hardly a driver’s car, but the Mulsanne performs well on quick accelerations and tight turns, despite its size. The 6.8-liter V8 engine with 505 horsepower seems excessive at first, but that is what it takes to get the 6,812-pound car moving. The Mulsanne boasts an impressive 0 to 60 mph time of five seconds flat.

The Mulsanne is easy to handle and maneuvers well. We put it in various tight parking spaces without a problem (though with a bit of stress, considering the price of the car). In Manhattan rush hour traffic and on the highway, the interior of the car is silent and the ride is smooth, even over potholes.

Where the Mulsanne really shines, however, is the interior.

The 2013 model is unchanged from last year, and does not have any features we have not seen before. Like the Audi S8, which starts at $110,000, the Mulsanne is a WiFi hot spot and features massage seats.

Its “infotainment” system is far less advanced than what you can find in cars that sell for a fraction of the $296,000 MSRP, including the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) that GM has developed for its new models.

But where the new CUE system falters (in our test drive of the 2013 ATS, the voice command “Navigate to Logan International Airport” resulted in “Tune to Hair Nation XM”), Bentley’s simpler, less ambitious system works perfectly. For navigation, speak slowly and clearly, and it gets the address right.

Like just about every new car, the Mulsanne has a rear view camera for backing up, but it adds the nice touch of automatically lowering the radio volume while the car is in reverse.

That, more than anything, is the key to Bentley’s excellence, and part of the justification for the $347,870 price tag: It does everything right, even the things the driver does not expect.

There’s a lot of room for the driver’s left foot. The centre screen can be hidden while driving. The rear seats are adjustable. There’s a built-in iPod adaptor (but it did not support my circa 2005 iPod).

Of course, a good percentage of the $347,000 — much of what puts it above the best offerings from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz — is the Bentley name.

Click below for a photo tour of the new Mulsanne, or see how the Bentley wings change your life.

We were the first non-Bentley employees to drive this Mulsanne, which had just made the trip from Michigan to New York.

Even though it seats only five, the Mulsanne is huge.

It sits on 20-inch wheels.

Under the hood is a 6.8L V-8 engine that produces 505 hp. But the car weighs 6,812 lbs, so it needs a lot of power to get moving.

Not surprisingly, it's not very efficient. The Mulsanne gets just 11 mpg in the city, and 18 mpg on the highway.

The 15.6 cubic foot trunk has room for lots of luggage, and is lined with fabric that matches the paint job.

It can be opened with a button on the key fob, or by pushing the 'B.'

And it's closed with this button.

Like many new cars, the Mulsanne has a rear view camera for driving in reverse. It also lowers the radio volume until the car is in drive again.

The 8-inch central screen controls the entertainment system and provides navigation.

It can be hidden at the touch of a button.

The front seats offer a huge amount of space.

All the seats are heated and have massage functions. They're really comfortable.

Each passenger gets his own ashtray, a feature many Americans will never use.

The back row is spacious too.

There are buttons in the back to adjust the seats and control the radio.

Even the metal controls for the vents are well made. It is nice that not everything is controlled electronically.

Because the Mulsanne is so big, there's a lot of room for the driver's left foot, an underrated feature.

A stick shift changes gears, and a small wheel changes the driving settings from comfort to sport mode.

Like in most new cars, the engine is started with a button.

There's a special compartment with an iPod adopter, but it does not support older models.

A heated steering wheel is available in the Mulsanne, but our model did not have it.

The speedometer is somewhat unusual.

The Bentley logo is everywhere, but you have to open the door to find the word 'Mulsanne.'

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