Bentley’s range-topping Mulsanne sedan has been left relatively untouched since it made its debut four years ago. That’s all about to change as Bentley gives its flagship the “Speed” treatment with the addition of more power, efficiency, and luxury than is available on the standard Mulsanne.
The Speed edition is a logical upgrade for the Mulsanne. Named after the famous Mulsanne straight from the Circuit de la Sarthe – host of the 24 hours of Le Mans – the Mulsanne sedan is slower, less powerful, but roughly $US100,000 more expensive than Bentley’s “entry-level” Flying Spur sedan.
The Speed edition closes some of the performance gap with a more powerful version of Bentley’s workhorse 6.75 liter twin-turbocharged V8. Bentley’s engineers have managed to massage an extra 25 horsepower from the push-rod motor — taking the total to 530.
As a result, the flagship Bentley is now able to make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds — 0.3 seconds quicker than before. Top speed is up 6 mph, to 190. However, this is still a bit off from the Flying Spur’s 616 hp W12 that rockets the sedan to 60 in just 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 200mph. The Mulsanne Speed will also feature improved sports suspension and a performance-tuned gearbox that — when cruising along — will keep the engine in a position to instantaneously take advantage of the twin-turbos’ added power.
Even better, Bentley claims that the updated V8 is 13% more fuel efficient than the current version, adding roughly 50 miles to the overall range. However, at just 12 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway, it’s still not quite a fuel-sipper. Then again, if you’re in the market for twin-turbocharged V8 Bentley, fuel economy is probably not at the top of your list of priorities.
“The new Mulsanne Speed is the car that defines Bentley, as a flagship for driving luxury performance,” proclaimed Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer in a statement. “Our customers don’t compromise, and we’ve adopted the same approach in the design, engineering and crafting of our new flagship.”
Bentley exacting standards for high-level craftsmanship are evident as soon as you step in the cabin. The whole interior is covered in hand-stitched leather and high quality veneers. According to Bentley, the interior leather is available in 24 different colours, while customers can also choose from 10 different veneers.
Behind the wheel, the Mulsanne drivers have full control of the Bentley’s infotainment options through a dash-mounted display.
As nice as the driver’s seat is, the place to be is in the back. The fully-adjustable rear-seats coddle their occupants in true Bentley fashion. Oh yeah…there’s a champagne chiller in the back as well — with room for a bottle and a pair of flutes.
The $US335,000 Bentley Mulsanne Speed will be officially introduced to the public at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.
The Bentley Mulsanne proves that speed and acceleration are not the end-all and be-all of luxury travel. Rather it’s the experience of getting there that matters. However, the Speed edition allows Mulsanne customers to make it to their destination with style — and just in time to be fashionably late.
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