Car buyers fall into two categories: the 'driver' and the 'driven'. Carmakers are on a constant endeavor to satisfy both categories, with some companies setting up separate divisions to focus on this bit of business. Examples are the AMG, M, RS and R monikers, which push the limits of real-world automotive performance, whereas there are people who work on improving the luxury and finesse on already super luxurious brands such as Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and the likes. Owners who like to spend most of their time in the rear seat prefer the latter, while the 'driver' would prefer the former any time. There are not many cars that provide the best of both worlds; or are there?
Pedal to the metal, zero to 100 km/h comes up in a hoot! Five seconds to be precise. Hold on to the steering wheel and you will see the speedometer crossing the 200 km/h mark and 300 km/h in a while, stopping at the electronically limited 305 km/h! Now those are some serious numbers, so I guess I must be driving a serious piece of automotive tech. Of course it is. I could see the 'flying B' logo trying to break loose on top of the hood, and I am driving none other than the 2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed.
Powering this 2,700 kg behemoth of a car is a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 petrol engine developing 530 horsepower and an insane torque of 1,100 Nm. That is hypercar category (except for the weight!). An eight-speed automatic transmission transfers this power to the rear wheels. The Mulsanne Speed rides on 21-inch forged wheels all around shod with 265 mm-wide rubber and they do a splendid job of keeping the Mulsanne glued to the road always. Steering response is appreciable for a car of these dimensions and is accompanied by the slight swing and wallow of the super luxury segment; acceptable by any standards.
We are not driving a sports car; this is a super luxury sedan and is made to drive like one. For instance, you suddenly start to wonder if the local streets and roads have been upgraded to motorway standards. It's no doubt the Mulsanne Speed's suspension doing the trickery. Even though it is claimed that the chassis and suspension parts have undergone a course in 'stiffness improvement', the Mulsanne retains all of its composure and drives like a dream. You can feel the air springs and steering tighten up a bit when you select the 'Sport' mode but comfort is never forgotten. One of the surprises I had was that the engine rpm is maintained above 2,000 when the car is in 'Sport' mode just to get rid of the so-called turbo lag! This is a Mulsanne, mind it. The Mulsanne can still drive over potholes without a shudder. Even at triple digit speeds you need to really look at the speedo to be sure. 180 km/h feels the same as 120 km/h. Tire noise and wind noise are just a myth in this Bentley. Speed cams are going to love the Mulsanne Speed!
Now on to the best part on any Bentley – the super luxurious interiors. Anywhere you sit in a Bentley, you are cuddled like a baby. There is a lot of room everywhere and I never touched something inside the Bentley that could be classified as 'hard'. Our test car was finished in a combination of red leather and had a lightly shaded veneer dashboard. Very contrasting; but no complaints! All buttons and knobs on the dashboard as well as the steering wheel were finished in piano black, but it looked a bit out of place; like some standard parts fitted on a bespoke. The air con controls were tastefully 'organ stop' styled which adds to that Bentley panache. The cockpit-inspired dials on the dashboard add further flair to your trip. One of the things that hint to you about the 'Speed' badge on the Bentley is the alloy drilled throttle and brake pedals. The knurled gear lever knob found on the GT Speed finds its way into the Mulsanne cab also. The diamond quilted leather seats are super-sized and super comfy, fitted with massagers and a ventilation option; and make you feels instantly at home. Those seats are ready to take you on a 2,000-kilometer trip any time and you'd disembark with zero travel stress. On occasional trips between your home, the air strip and the private super-yacht; the Mulsanne Speed will ensure that your transfers are well appointed. The headliner is finished in leather as well to give you a super luxury cocoon effect.
The exterior still retains authentic Mulsanne design lines and language. Matrix-style grilles adorn the front side and have a dark tint on them to fulfill the 'Speed' characteristics. The LED headlamps and fog lights also have a black tint on them to further enhance the tuner look. Just a glance can differentiate the regular Mulsanne from its tuner brother. Viewed from the side, the 'Speed' badged air vents behind the front wheel arch are the ID. A highlighting chrome strip runs through the entire profile, acting as a character line running alongside the hand-painted shoulder line pinstripe on our test car. On the rear, the Mulsanne Speed has the familiar floating elliptical tail lamp cluster which will be updated with a 'B' shaped one on the Mulsanne to be released next year. I will miss the elliptical taillight and exhaust pipe combo, which was embedded in my mind as a Bentley trademark. The exteriors of the Bentley are clad in aluminum with minimal joints that further enhance the sleek and flowing bodyline. The body is sanded, leveled and painted by hand which increases the exclusivity of each Bentley off the production line.
Overall, the Mulsanne Speed is a hyper-sedan that infuses drive thrills with the traditional comfort and class of Bentley luxury models. This is one car you where would want your chauffeur to be in the rear seat at times. Godspeed…the Mulsanne Speed!
Pros: Super posh interiors, comfy seats, torque is no joke, ride comfort
Cons: Too big/classy to be thrashed around (yea, we know it's not meant to!)
Rivals: Rolls-Royce Ghost, Mercedes-AMG S65, Mercedes-Maybach S600
Engine: 6.75L twin-turbo V8, 530 hp @ 4,200 rpm, 1,100 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, RWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 5 sec, top speed: 305 km/h, fuel consumption: 16.5 L/100 km
Weight: 2,721 kg
Photo Credits: Sambhram Aivalli