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First Drive Review 2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed

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So effortless, so classy

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

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THE HAGUE - January 19, 2016: The Bentley Mulsanne Speed may not exactly be the car that you want to be driven around in.. The Speed is what the name indicates: this car loves speed and so should its drivers.

Late December, the Mulsanne Speed was my companion for a couple of days. The test started on the back seat. The Dutch distributor had sent the car with a driver to pick me up and drive me to the brand new Bentley Experience, a lounge in the Conservatorium Hotel, next to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I will come back to that later. So, indeed, the test started from the rear seat. At least I was able to enjoy the looks of the cabin, sort out all the features that are available for the captain op industry, who can work in silence, enjoy a video on the screen in front of him (or her), or lay back and relax. Or just tale a glass of champagne that can be stored in refrigerated space between the back rests of the rear seats. The cooler is a 10,970 dollar option and comes with a crystal glass-holder rack and three crystal Bentley flutes that have stem bottoms in the shape of the Speed’s 5-spoke wheel. “Not like the ones on this car,” said Stef Kuijpers, host of the Bentley lounge LINK in the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam later. “This car has all-weather tires and different wheels.” Last year, Bentley’s flagship won Robb Report’s award for the Best Luxury Sedan, as well as the Arab Wheels Awards in the Middle East. The world’s fastest, ultra luxury driving experience was praised for its superior performance and the limitless possibilities for customization.

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The British car is also nominated for the 2016 World Luxury Car of the Year, where it will undoubtedly get top marks, but in this class are other luxury sedans of less than half the price of the Mulsanne Speed’s nearly 350,000 dollars. We will see how the dice has rolled when the World Car Awards are being presented on March 24 at the New York Auto Show.

After checking out the Bentley Lounge in Amsterdam, it is time to drive home. The Bentley Mulsanne Speed is absolutely impressive. Even though both freeways between Amsterdam and The Hague have speed limits, I know some parts where usually Smokey is not hiding behind the guardrail with his laser gun. They offer me a chance to push the throttle and let the nearly 6,00 pounds accelerate from the dumb 65 mph to !@* I-do-not-dare-to-mention. We fly with lightning speed but I have to let go, as there are too many cars in view. It is really impressive to feel the 6.75-liter V-8 engine’s 395 kW/530 hp and 811 pound-feet (1,100 Nm) of torque come into action. The 8-speed ZF close ratio automatic transmission with Quickshift can be paddle-shifted, but unless you are dwelling in a traffic jam, or doing some laps on the race track, the comfortable environment makes you well at ease to have technology do it on its own.

It was a pity that I could not go to the Zandvoort Circuit to give the Mulsanne Speed some wellie, but actively driving the big car around is also fun.

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On the freeway, young men were making approving gestures and I was pretty amazed when I parked along a soccer field where school boys ran up to the fence and shouted: “Nice car!” They could hardly have missed the bright red 220 in. (5.58 m) long Bentley. They were obviously educated with respect for British cars and/or also with an expensive taste. They would have given anything to ride along, but the fence kept them captive. That was not the case when I drove into my street. A friend ‘oohed’ and ‘aaahhed’ and begged me to take him for a short spin. After honoring his request, I left him along the curb impressed and amazed. It is exactly what Bentley want to achieve: attract younger customers, or at least make young people aware of the fact that a Bentley is not a dull brand.

That also goes for driving the heavy weight (there is only carbon-fiber trim to enhance the interior with the beautiful hand-stitched leather) as I experienced later. The Bentley moved elegantly an fast through the Sunday afternoon traffic.

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The suspension has self-leveling air springs and the dampers are adaptive to meet the somewhat stiffer Sport or Dynamic modes (the Mulsanne Speed has four driver-selectable modes).. Together with the hydraulic steering (on demand), that is direct and firm, the car makes you feel confident to go into sport-mode yourself. The excellent seat holds you in place and the comfortable ultra luxurious comfort enhances the happy feel, when you drive the Mulsanne Speed, at whatever speed.

And talking about pace, the car only takes 4.8 second to accelerate from zero to 60 mph an reaches 190 mph (305 km/h) effortless. But the latter is only important for drivers on the unrestricted parts of the German Autobahn.

Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Engine: 6752 cc V8, twin turbo charged
Power: 537 hp/530 bhp / 395 kW at 4,200 rpm
Torque: 1,100 Nm/811 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Transmission: ZF close ratio 8-speed automatic
Driveline: rear wheel drive
Curb weight: 2,685 kg/5,919 lb L/w/h 5,575 x 2,208 x 1,521 mm / 219.5 x 86.9 x 59.9 in..
Wheel base: 3,266 mm / 128.6 in.
Wheels: 9J x 21”
Tires: 265/40 ZR 31
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h 4.9 sec /0-60 mph 4.8 sec
Top speed:  305 km/h / 190 mph
Economy (combined): 14.6 liters/100 km /  19.3mpg; 
CO2 emission: 342g/km
Price (US) from: $ 338,325