By Matt Degen
The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne is one of the most luxurious and comfortable sedans that money can buy. Nearly on par with vehicles from British rival Rolls-Royce, the $300,000 Mulsanne is for the most discriminating buyers – ones who don't wince at seeing a dollar amount usually reserved for a house associated with a car. Massive in size, prodigious in power and trimmed with every imaginable accoutrement, the Mulsanne rightly deserves its status as transportation for the world's elite. Whether being used as a chauffeur's chariot or driven by its owner, the Mulsanne offers comfort and serenity to the max. You could obtain similar levels of refinement for hundreds of thousands less, but you wouldn't be getting a Bentley.
If money is no object and you desire the utmost comfort and prestige in ground transportation, the Bentley Mulsanne could be your hand-built automotive dream. If you're one who likes attention, expect plenty of it in this vehicle.
Ultra-luxury sedans are not solely the domain of the British. Everyone from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Lexus to – believe it or not – Hyundai offer vehicles that will pamper you for far less investment. These mainstream automakers also boast much larger dealer networks for service and sales.
The Milliner Driving Specification edition offers sport-tuned suspension and steering along with larger wheels and aesthetic enhancements. New features for the Mulsanne include a tinted glass sunroof and a bottle cooler that comes with hand-blown crystal Champagne flutes.
Driving Impressions You don't so much drive the 2013 Mulsanne as you do float in it. Comfort is the raison d'être of this car, and it achieves that with aplomb. The vehicle's...suspension adeptly soaks up every road imperfection, and the cabin is so well insulated that even the massive 6.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine up front is magically hushed. That powerplant smoothly transmits its 505 horsepower and thundering 752 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission with optional sport mode. With a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds, the 3-ton Mulsanne is quick, but this is a vehicle meant for highway cruising, not nimble antics. Considering its size, maneuvering is not maddening. Our only letdowns were the prominent wind noise that crept into our test vehicle's driver-side window at speeds above 40 mph and a rattle that developed near the front passenger compartment.
REAR SEAT UTOPIA
The truth is, many buyers of the Bentley Mulsanne will not be the drivers. They'll be enjoying the rear seat while being chauffeured. And there is much to be enjoyed beyond sheer legroom. The Mulsanne's rear seats recline and offer heat, ventilation and massaging functionality. You may just want to hold board meetings back there.
Ever second-guessed whether you completely closed that door? You won't in the Mulsanne. Even if you don't shut it all the way, the vehicle is smart enough to do it for you, providing a gentle tug that sequesters you inside the Bentley's automotive cocoon. Similar outward assistance is offered upon exit.
It's the hides of Scandinavian bulls – a dozen of them – that cover the massive Mulsanne's interior. Why Scandinavian? The region's cooler climate means fewer insects, which means fewer hide blemishes. That's the detail that goes into crafting a Bentley. Wood and stainless steel abound, the latter polished to such a state that it unfortunately blinds when hit by sunlight. The metal ashtrays are so heavy they could be used as dumbbells. The rear outboard seats, like the front seats, offer heat and ventilation. Should even more relaxation be needed, a massage can be had at the touch of a button. Trunk space is smaller than expected.Exterior
More than 100 paint colors are offered for the Mulsanne, which makes it even less likely you'll see another that's similar. No matter your choice of hue, all Mulsannes are regal beauties that command attention with their massive radiator grilles, giant jeweled headlights, tapered rear haunches, and sheer size. At over 219 inches in length, the Mulsanne is longer than some full-size pickup trucks. Exterior details are just as fine as those inside, right down to the doors that offer power opening and closing assistance. When the car is parked, the side mirrors elegantly fold in to prevent being damaged.
The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne is equipped with an 8-inch high-resolution infotainment screen (neatly conceal behind a veneered panel), a satellite navigation system, a tinted glass sunroof, quad-zone climate control, power rear outboard seats with heat control, rear-passenger privacy blinds, and voice control for many operations. The standard audio system boasts 14 speakers, a 6-disc CD changer, a 60-gig hard drive, and inputs for SD cards and iPods. The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne comes in a choice of dozens of interior and exterior colors, down to the seatbelt hue. Surprisingly, a rear-view camera is not included as standard in this big vehicle.
Most likely, the Bentley Mulsanne you want is the Bentley Mulsanne you'll get. These handmade vehicles are built to suit their customers' desires and offer a vast degree of personalization. Some of the more prominent additions include a superb Naim audio system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment package with twin LCD screens and wireless headphones, a Wi-Fi hotspot option, and 21-inch wheels in place of the standard 20-inch versions. Added rear-seat comfort can be had with veneered picnic tables and ventilated and massaging seats. Driving and safety features include adaptive cruise control and rear- and side-view cameras.
The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne gets its muscle from a big, twin-turbocharged V8. The engine's 505 horsepower is impressive, but even more so is its prodigious 752 lb-ft of torque, which helps off-the-line performance. The 2013 Mulsanne can go 0-60 mph in just over five seconds, and has a top speed of 184 mph. Impressive numbers for a car that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds. All Mulsanne models are rear-wheel drive and feature an 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is not a strong point, reflected in its EPA figures and $3,700 gas-guzzler tax.
6.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8
505 horsepower @ 4,200 rpm
752 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18 mpg
A 2013 Bentley Mulsanne isn't bought so much as it is "commissioned." So while the Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price starts at just over $300,000, a client's custom and optional touches can easily and drastically increase that figure. A built-in refrigerator alone, for example, tops $10,000, and personalized satin paint runs over $30,000. At its base price, the Mulsanne is above the roughly $260,000 starting price of the Rolls-Royce Ghost sedan and below the $400,000 starting point of a Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan. For just about any other car, we would now direct your attention to the Fair Purchase Price below so you could see what others are paying and get the best deal. But we don't expect much haggling when it comes to the Mulsanne. Likewise, because of this vehicle's extreme niche, resale values on it are difficult to predict.