A car delivering peak power at 4000 rpm and peak torque at 1750 rpm can’t be sporty — or so the left side of our brain would like to believe. But W.O. Bentley didn’t make a reputation out of building high revving motors, but rather humongous ones that made Ettore Bugatti describe a Bentley as the ‘fastest truck in the world.’
By that standard, the Mulsanne isn’t just an ornate ‘truck’. It’s also the world’s premiere production saloon in the world at the moment, powered by an institution and is the only pure ‘British Bentley’ around in the real sense of the word. The correlation of the Mulsanne and the world’s fastest straight in motorsport has got to do with how it piles on speed once you find an open stretch of road. Or in our case, an autobahn.
With the engine barely ticking over two and a half grand, the Mulsanne’s eightspeed gearbox working away unobtrusively in the background, it’s just past 220 clicks on the clock and the interiors have this eerie, hushed silence about them. Bury the throttle a bit more and it drops a gear, with the dial set to Sport, and there is a muted growl that follows, the twin-turbos furiously working at tens of thousands of rpm as the car starts to climb ever so close to 300 kph. All the while, it stays glued to the road, because the two and a half tonnes of British metal, wood and leather is never disturbed by terms like ‘crosswinds’ or ‘camber changes’.
What we like
Presence; opulence; pace
What we don’t
Some houses cost less
What’s changed in the ‘new for 2017’ Mulsanne? A lot, actually — LED daytime runners for the headlamps, lots of winged B-elements across the car, lots of small changes to improve the overall NVH, new toys to play with and the expansion of the range to three models. The standard Signature model is joined by the Extended Wheelbase and Speed variants, both of which add some charisma to the car. The former gets an extra 250 mm long wheelbase, but not before strengthening the car and adding so much kit that it makes the rear seat the best one in the business.
Oligarchs of the world will love what it has to offer — a cabin that’s quieter by an overall 20 dB, with a pair of seats that pamper you like no other. These are Business Class-like chairs, made after nearly a week’s worth of man hours and a day and a half more, if you select contrast stitching. The pair of deployable tables, with 761 individual parts, are among the most exquisite pieces of engineering on the planet. Not to forget, the Samsung 10.2-inch tablets, which deploy from the seatbacks and can also be used as handheld devices to browse the internet, or just listen to some music. Bach, maybe?
Opulence is a byword for the Mulsanne, and the space on this page is not enough to dwell on it more. For all its dimensions and weight, the biggest surprise is how it drives and handles. The 535 bhp Speed gets a marginally stiffer and lowered suspension, that shrinks so well that around sections of the Austrian Alps, it felt no bigger than an Audi RS7. On the Signature and EWB models, you can feel the slightly higher degree of roll, but it’s too minute for rear occupants to feel a thing. It also has two dozen fewer horses, and the gearbox feels a touch slower to shift, but this is just nitpicking.
You might want to nitpick about the Rs 5.5 to 6.7 crore rupee price tag, one that could get you far more square footage in Mumbai than the Mulsanne could ever offer. But if you do go for the EWB, you will be one of just 300 lucky souls on the planet to carry the tag of ‘proud owner’. Envy knows no boundaries.