2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed -- ultimately exhilarating

Previewed before heading on to the Paris Auto Show, the new 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed adds to the car's luxury and performance. Expanding the current Mulsanne lineup, the range-topping Speed variant melds tastefully aggressive styling cues with more intense driving dynamics. 

Understated elegance 

Subtle is the operative term for the Mulsanne Speed's exterior changes, which include a dark-tint finish on its stainless-steel radiator grille, lower bumper grilles and fender vents complemented by a similar treatment on the front and rear lighting elements. These are set off by dual rifled exhaust outlets and solid polished stainless steel Speed badges as well as 21-inch alloy wheels. These bespoke rims - Bentley's first ever featuring a unidirectional design - are individually machined from forged blanks and can be had painted, polished or dark-tinted. 

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Inside, the Mulsanne Speed comes with the full Mulliner Driving Specification enhancements while offering new a new Technical Veneer option that brings Piano Black trim with carbon fiber accents. Options include everything from a 2,200-watt Naim for Bentley audio system in place of the standard 14-speaker unit to a power-activated rear tray tables and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment package.   

Overwhelming exuberance 

Heart of the Mulsanne Speed is a revised version of the firm's well-proven 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8. A new head design the features revamped combustion chambers, intake ports, fuel injectors and spark plugs plus a higher compression ratio, which raises output from 505 horsepower and 752 lb-ft of torque in the standard Mulsanne to 530 horses and a record 811 lb-ft of peak twist - which is on hand from a mere 1,750 rpm. 

A full redesign of the engine management system serves up smoother transitions from V8 to V4 operation on both engine configurations while also improving fuel economy. Backed by a recalibrated ZF 8-speed Quickshift automatic transmission that features a new performance-focused "S" mode, the Mulsanne Speed can streak from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds and hit a top end of 190 mph. 

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To ensure that power can be put to best use, the chassis of the new Mulsanne Speed also gets unique tuning. While retaining the Bentley and Comfort modes, the air suspension adds a stiffer Sport setting that also tweaks the steering for better feel and accuracy. The system also allows the driver to individually adjust the chassis, steering and engine response using a Custom setting. 

Pricing for the 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed is expected to be announced at its global debut in Paris. The first Speed-spec Mulsannes are expected to arrive here sometime during the first quarter next year.

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