Remember that girl you knew in high school who always turned her assignments in on time, finished the tests in 26 minutes, drove her grandparents to church on Sunday and volunteered at the animal shelter? Fun and a bit aloof, but she also had an extremely personal tattoo.
Yeah, that’s pretty much the new 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed.
And yeah, we didn’t know that girl either.
Bentley, if you haven’t noticed, is on a tear. While we await the arrival of the Bentayga, the first SUV from the brand, the recent Geneva auto show was pretty much all about the EXP 10 Speed Six concept. The just-now-hitting-the-showrooms GT3R has been getting its share of ink, as well.
The Mulsanne Speed is the latest luxury performance sedan from a storied brand that fused performance and luxury from its very start -- and brought that combo into the modern age with the introduction of the Turbo R in the 1980s. Going fast in style is a crucial part of Bentley’s revitalized DNA, and with that genealogy in mind, the Mulsanne Speed does not disappoint.
With a top speed of 190 mph, the twin-turbo 6.75-liter V8 that powers the Speed produces 530 hp. Mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox putting power to the rear wheels only, the car is capable of 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, just about incredible for a 5,919-pound car that has an optional twin bottle champagne cooler with not two, but three crystal flutes.
Another stunning spec: This Bentley delivers 811 lb-ft, more than any other gasoline-powered car currently in production. Torque fans, unite.
Direction 21-inch wheels are each machined from a single blank.PHOTO BY BENTLEY
The new directional 21-inch wheels are each machined from a single blank, and they just look right on the Speed. That the wheels are available in three different factory finishes, is, well, understood.
(Warning: Obligatory use of the word “bespoke” to follow.)
Bentley wants you to know there’s much more to the Mulsanne Speed than the go-fast parts. A full 150 hours of the total 400 hours it takes to build a Mulsanne Speed are taken up by creating the leather interior -- and that’s before additional options are added. Fourteen bull hides go into making each interior; the steering wheel alone takes one person five hours, 10 feet of thread and 620 stitches to complete.
The Mulliner Driving Specification trim is standard in the Mulsanne Speed, so features like the quilted stitching on the seats and door panels and an indented hide headliner are yours. Yours, also, are organ stop-style vent controls, drilled alloy foot pedals and embroidered Bentley “Flying B” emblems on each seat.
But that’s just the beginning. Not surprisingly, there is a list of bespoke options with which you can equip your Mulsanne Speed. A Wi-Fi hotspot and twin iPads encased in fold-down aluminum picnic tables in the rear? No problem. That twin bottle champagne cooler? Done. Paint matching to any color on request? You betcha.
Let’s face it: If you can find the folks at Bentley a sustainable source for a unicorn foreskin headliner in your new Mulsanne Speed, it’s yours for a (slight) additional fee.
Mulliner Driving Specification trim comes standard on the Mulsanne Speed, so the quilted leather is taken care of.PHOTO BY BENTLEY
What’s it like to drive?
Bentley invited a number of us to drive the Mulsanne Speed in and around Austin, Texas, an area with various types and grades of roads, from farm-to-market highways to a toll road with an 85-mph speed limit.
We spent a full day on the roads in a spectre-colored example (yes, Mr. Bond, “Spectre” -- possibly coincidently, the name of the new 007 film to be released in November). Bentley says spectre has heavy metallic gold with “hints of green resulting in a rich tone inspired by reptilian skin.” Personally, we’re planning on asking for those qualities in the next bottle of wine we order.
Adjustable drive modes include comfort, speed and driver-configurable custom, plus Bentley mode -- the recommended setting, which supposedly combines the best of speed and comfort. Whatever the mode of the moment, the Mulsanne Speed is an exceptionally athletic car. The handling and road feel is much more than you would expect from a much smaller performance sedan, and then some.
Fold-down picnic tables that conceal tablets? So that's why Bentley wanted us to give the Mulsanne Speed's rear seat a try.PHOTO BY BENTLEY
Dropping into speed mode shortened the shifts, increased the pressure in the air springs for less body roll, sharpened the throttle response and changed the power resistance in the steering. No need to guess which mode made most of us happiest in the driver’s seat.
For the driver, this is a car that never stops giving acceleration and torque. Nimble in the same way an NFL lineman is, stopping power from its massive brakes is just as impressive as the way the car can take a corner. It actually is tons of fun to drive. Nearly three tons of fun, we’d say.
We were asked not only to drive the car, but to be back-seat-driven as well, as the appeal of the Mulsanne Speed is not limited to the front of the cockpit. And for the passenger, going this fast never felt so civilized. Because it never has been this, how do you say, properly presented.
Let 811 lb-ft of torque propel you into the sunset in absolute comfort.PHOTO BY BENTLEY
Do I want it?
The Mulsanne Speed costs $335,600, plus options and delivery, plus a gas-guzzler tax. Our spectre-colored (a $5,715 option) car had an MSRP of $406,527.50, including options.
Our advice? If you’re already planning on spending a minimum of $296,000 on a new Mulsanne, pay the extra $31,900 and get the Speed. Yes, that premium is more or less the average transaction price of a new car purchase these days, but why cheap out when you can get the one that will smoke the tires on command?
There is no getting around the fact that the Mulsanne Speed is immense, but, on the bright side, it probably still costs less than a Manhattan apartment of about the same size.
If you are buying a Mulsanne Speed, you probably already have one or two of those anyway.
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