By Matt Degen
The 2014 Bentley Mulsanne is one of the most opulent sedans money can buy. And to do that, you'll need a mountain of it. At over $300,000, Bentley's flagship flies in the rarefied company of its British stablemate Rolls-Royce and appeals to the most discriminating clientele. Buyers who don't bat an eye at the Mulsanne's cost will be rewarded with not just an awe-inspiring automobile, but an aristocratic experience. Massive in size, prodigious in power and fitted with every imaginable accoutrement, this majestic sedan deserves its status as transportation reserved for royalty. Whether used as a chauffeur's chariot or a personal vehicle, the Mulsanne makes a statement few others can touch. You could obtain similar levels of refinement for hundreds of thousands less, but you wouldn't be buying a Bentley.
If money is no object in your quest for the creme de la creme of large luxury sedans, the Bentley Mulsanne brings more panache to the party than even mainstream ground yachts such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or its Audi A8 cousin.
Ultra-luxury sedans are not solely the domain of the British. Everyone from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Lexus to – yes, it's true – Hyundai offers vehicles that will pamper you for far less investment. These mainstream automakers also boast much larger dealer networks for service and sales.
The 2014 Mulsanne receives updates to its rear-passenger area that include airline-style headrests, new footrests and seat cushions, and window curtains in place of the previous window shades. A new, U.K.-made entertainment package with in-car Wi-Fi also joins the feature list.
Driving Impressions You don't so much drive the 2014 Mulsanne as you do float in it. Comfort is the raison d'être of this big Bentley. The suspension vanquishes road imperfections, and the...... cabin is so hushed that even the 6.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is magically muted. That massive powerplant makes correspondingly massive power: 505 horses and 752 lb-ft of torque, all sent to the rear wheels via a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. This translates to a 0-60-mph sprint of 5.1 seconds, quite a feat considering this luxury liner weighs nearly three tons. Though the Drive Dynamics Control system can optimize the Mulsanne's suspension and steering for a sportier feel, this sedan is most at ease as highway cruiser, not backwoods corner-carver. Maneuvering around town is manageable, but there's no denying the Mulsanne's size. Our only letdowns were the prominent wind noise in our test vehicle's driver-side window at speeds above 40 mph and a rattle that developed near the front-passenger compartment.
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 enjoy 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.
Over a dozen hides from Scandinavian bulls line the Mulsanne's interior. Why Scandinavian? The region's cool climate means fewer insects, and that means fewer hide blemishes. That's the kind of forethought that goes into crafting a Bentley. Abundant use of wood and stainless steel are among other highlights of this luxurious cocoon, though the latter has been polished to a state that it can be blinding when hit by sunlight. Rear legroom in this 5-passenger super sedan comes in spades, and the outboard seats, like the front seats, offer heat and ventilation. Further relaxation can be had thanks to a massaging function. Trunk space, however, is smaller than expected.Exterior
At over 18 feet in length, it's an understatement to say that the Mulsanne makes a statement. At this length, this exotic sedan is longer than some full-size pickups. Aside from its prominent proportions, further attention is commanded from the Bentley's massive radiator grilles, sparkling jeweled headlights and tapered rear haunches. Like the interior, fine exterior touches abound. The doors offer opening and closing assistance, and when parked the side mirrors fold inward to prevent being damaged. Mulsannes are rare to begin with, but with more than 100 paint colors offered, yours is sure to be unique.
The 2014 Bentley Mulsanne is equipped with heated 14-way power front seats, 8-way power rear outboard seats with heat control, 8-inch high-resolution infotainment screen (neatly concealed behind a veneered panel), satellite navigation system, tinted glass sunroof, quad-zone climate control, power-operated trunk , and voice control for many operations. The standard audio system boasts 14 speakers, a 6-disc CD changer, a 60-gig hard drive, plus inputs for SD cards and iPods. Interior and exterior color choices abound, down to the seatbelt hue. Surprisingly, a rearview camera is not included as standard in this big vehicle.
Most likely, the Mulsanne you want is the Mulsanne you'll get. These handmade vehicles are tailored to their customers' desires and offer a vast degree of personalization. Among the more prominent additions are a 2,200-watt/20-speaker Naim audio system, heated and ventilated front and rear seats with massage functionality, and 21-inch wheels in place of the standard 20-inch versions. The new Entertainment Specification includes electrically deployed rear-seat picnic tables optimized for iPads and Apple keyboards, complete with integrated charging support. The option also includes a rear-seat entertainment system and in-car Wi-Fi. Driving and safety features include adaptive cruise control and rear- and side-view cameras.
The 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 2014 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 2014 Bentley Mulsanne isn't bought so much as it is "commissioned." So while the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at just over $300,000, options and custom touches can easily and drastically increase that figure. A built-in refrigerator alone, for example, tops $10,000, and personalized satin paint can total 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, the Mulsanne's resale value is difficult to predict.