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For the rich and powerful man who has everything -- or at any rate, the rich and powerful man who has three high-end SUVs and a Porsche or Ferrari already in the garage, according to the calculations of the Bentley brass— the folks from Crewe, Cheshire, offer this weighty trio of 2017 Mulsannes: the Mulsanne, the Mulsanne Speed, and the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase.
Whether you're a real-estate tycoon in Atlanta or a semiconductor potentate in Shenzhen, the Mulsanne will isolate you from the rabble. Photo by Murilee MartinFordism.
Not exactly flashy. Photo by Murilee Martin
We drove all three versions of the Mulsanne in Austria and southern Germany, where the combination of autobahns, little gingerbready Bavarian towns, and twisty mountain roads demonstrated the surprising real-world versatility of these plush, powerful behemoths.
Definitely one of the greatest hood ornaments of all time, though not quite up to the level of the illuminated Chief Pontiac ornaments of the 1940s. Photo by Murilee Martin
The Mulsanne's engine is a hand-assembled, old-school, 16-valve pushrod V8 displacing 412 cubic inches, from an engine family whose lineage stretches back to the late 1950s. Thanks to distinctly 21st-century turbocharging and engine-control technology, the Speed's version of this powerplant makes 811 pound-feet of torque at a just-beyond-tick-over 1,750 rpm (in the other Mulsanne models, drivers must put up with a mere 752 pound-feet).
If you're Mulsanne shopping and you like to drive, get the Speed. Photo by Bentley
When you get the Speed, the base price is $30,930 more than that of the regular Mulsanne, and that's before you get the optional-but-not-really-optional $17,335 carbon-ceramic brakes. Still, the Speed is so much more enjoyable to drive than the other Mulsannes (without imposing any significant ride-quality penalty) that anyone who plans to sit in the driver's seat ought to shell out the extra dosh for it. The extra power of the Speed's engine is noticeable, but the real differences between the Speed and the regular Mulsanne become most apparent when one enables Sport mode and drives in an un-chauffeurish fashion. Where the regular Mulsanne's front tires tend to plow alarmingly during hard cornering, what with those three tons of mass above them, the Speed feels startlingly light and grippy. The Speed has the better transmission control settings, too, with much quicker kickdowns when you mash the throttle and firmer upshifts when you're using all that glorious torque.
The Speed gets these mean-looking 21" wheels, the better to show off your carbon ceramic brakes. Photo by Murilee Martin
The Speed's optional carbon-ceramic brakes are, in a word, amazing. At one point on the Autobahn, I had to get on the brakes hard at about 155 mph when a TDI Golf oozed into the left lane ahead, and those brakes ate 100 mph of velocity from a three-ton vehicle in seconds with zero drama. Likewise, on mountain roads the Speed's brakes neither faded nor made unpleasant noises.
Imposing. Photo by Murilee Martin
The idea with the Mulsanne, according to the Bentley thinkers, is that owners can drive it to work during the week and then hand the keys to a chauffeur when the time comes to go out on the town. It must be nice to be a plutocrat.
Bentley calls this car a "luxury sporting limousine." Photo by Murilee Martin
What the Mulsanne is really all about, though, is the craftsmanship. It takes 400 hours to build one, and that includes hand-sanding all those layers of lacquer paint, 150 hours of hand-stitching the leather upholstery, and hand-shaping and grain-matching all 40 pieces of wood.
This is the greatest folding table ever made for a vehicle of any sort, period. Photo by Bentley
The most impressive bit of fabrication and design in these cars has got to be the aircraft-style folding tables in the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase (a $12,670 option). The mechanism is purely mechanical, with 761 hand-machined components (most of which are invisible to the user, but they'll know that each piece is a work of art), and the tables can support 88 pounds apiece.
The champagne cooler with bespoke flutes goes for $10,970 Photo by Murilee Martin
It should go without saying that all three versions of the Mulsanne are quiet as a high-frequency trader's conscience inside, even at Autobahn speeds; Bentley's engineers optimized everything so as to smooth out the clunkity-CLUNK expansion-joints-and-potholes surface of Los Angeles' deferred-maintenance freeway surfaces. The tires are filled with a special noise-reducing foam. All in all, it costs about as much as a nice house, because it's about as much work to build as a nice house.
>Base Price: $304,670 (Mulsanne), $335,600 (Speed), $361,500 (Extended Wheelbase)
>As Tested Price: $366,015 (Mulsanne), $416,250 (Speed), $450,820 (Extended Wheelbase)
>Powertrain: 6.75-liter OHV V8, RWD, 8-speed automatic transmission
>Output: 505 hp @ 4,000 rpm, 752 lb-ft @1,750 rpm (530 hp @ 4,000 rpm, 811 lb-ft @1,750 rpm for Mulsanne Speed)
>Curb Weight: Same as HMS Dreadnaught (actually, 5,919 lbs for Mulsanne and Speed, 6,019 lbs for Extended Wheelbase)
>0-60 MPH: 5.1 sec (Mulsanne), 4.8 sec (Speed), 5.5 sec (Extended Wheelbase)
>Fuel Economy: 12.1 / 28 / 18.8 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Source : http://autoweek.com/article/car-reviews/2017-bentley-mulsanne-first-drive
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