For those who got a peek at last year’s Mulsanne, the delicate blend of elegance and power characterizing Bentley’s latest 2013 flagship model will come as no surprise.
The reinvention of a paradox, the 2013 Mulsanne creates an experience of effortless power for drivers. It’s the result of combining performance and efficiency technology with the classic 8-cylinder configuration developed a half-century ago at Crewe, Bentley’s home in the British highlands. Starting at $296,000, the Mulsanne makes for the grandest turismo: eminently comfortable, with huge amounts of horsepower on tap for those beautiful stretches on the open road.
So, what does effortless power look like?
The inch-perfect tourer has been described as a “corner office on wheels”—a nod to Mulsanne’s custom, digitally well-furnished “Executive Interior.” High-def TV and DVD, an optional rear refrigerator complete with handmade crystal champagne flutes, and handy drop-down iPads are among the features meant to enhance one of the most fashionable passenger coaches on the market. The car is even equipped with its own Wi-Fi hotspot. These accoutrements become natural extensions of a car, which can cruise, master corners and deftly accelerate without disturbing the occupants within.
For 2013, the Adaptive Cruise Control has been integrated with an ESC Premium safety system. This mechanism helps preempt accidents by scanning the road for possible collisions. Radar sensors automatically trigger increased brake-line pressure when it’s needed most—before an emergency occurs. This means drivers can go from 0 to 60 in about 5 seconds and they can stop on a dime when the time comes.
Despite the built-in luxury for passengers, the real focus of Mulsanne is experienced in the driver’s seat. Mulsanne earns its title as the “driver’s car” de luxe with its dynamic sense of balance, sport-tuned suspension and steering, and ultra-sensitivity to a driver’s intentions. Drivers are in total control whether they are cruising at 20 or 120 mph.
When it comes to power, the smart craftsmanship makes the Mulsanne ride effortless. Despite its ultra-posh specs and satin-finished comforts, this machine is no limousine. After all, it’s named for the fastest stretch in the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance contest. Peek under the hood and you’ll come face to face with a mighty, twin-turbocharged 6.8-Liter V8 armed with control systems for optimum engine response. Acceleration is easy in a vehicle that somehow makes three tons feel light as a feather.
To keep those pesky CO2 emissions under control, the new Mulsanne makes use of “variable displacement,” a ‘smart’ mechanism by which the vehicle runs on just four cylinders when lightly cruising—a major boon for fuel economy. Craving a little speed? Press the accelerator and you’re instantly back in V8 mode, ready to make use of 1020 Nm of torque and 506 hp bringing you to speeds approaching 200 mph.
From behind the wheel of this car, Dallas can quickly become a blur, or a work of art, depending on how you choose to experience it.
The Mulsanne name evokes a rich history of engineering genius. With the 2013 model, the winged ’B’ marque has gone further with the paradox of state-of-the-art tradition. In bringing classical Bentley touches—like that angle-free British cut—to bear on modern mechanics and chic accommodations, Crewe engineers have really outdone themselves. They’ve crafted a grand tourer de force unmatched in both heritage and stylistic expression, from powertrain to creature comforts.
How could Bentley possibly improve on the beautiful 2013 Mulsanne? The word out from this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance suggests a possible Mulsanne Convertible on the horizon—good news for Bentley devotees gazing longingly at Rolls Royce’s Phantom Drophead Coupe.