2013 Bentley Mulsanne – Review and Test Drive
Can an automobile make a statement yet be subtle at the same time? It may appear to be a contradiction but that seems to be the very nature of the Bentley Mulsanne. It’s a thoroughly modern automobile that nonetheless retains its classic heritage.
Start with the tall grille, flanked by single round headlamps, meant to recall Bentleys of a more genteel age. Unlike its siblings, the Mulsanne doesn’t sport a standard hood ornament; instead one finds a quiet winged “B” badge waiting to be noticed, although our car had the optional Flying “B” radiator mascot. Granted, the headlamps take a bit of getting used to but that’s part of the car’s charm.
Everything about this car is big, starting with the 21” two-piece aluminum wheels that fill the big wheel arches so nicely. The carriage-style trunk, classic in form, is cavernous and led to the whimsical musing of being able to carry a Mini as a spare, not that it would ever be needed.
Inside, this is a car meant for passengers, in particular the ones sitting in the rear. The seats recline, but that’s not all that is available to cosset them. Bentley says that the Mulsanne uses three times the amount of wood per vehicle as other models had and that roughly 18 full cowhides are used in crafting it. It takes over 170 man-hours to finish the interior alone. No detail is left to the imagination.
Even at this level, it’s the options and packages that really make the car. The first thing noticed about this particular Mulsanne was the two-tone paint scheme, Tungsten over Onyx. The retro look was understated and drop-dead gorgeous.
Our car came with the Mulliner Driving Specification. (Mulliner, a coachwork company that was founded in the 16th century, has a long association with Bentley and is now part of the company as its bespoke division.) The package includes the 21” wheels but, more importantly, the (driver selectable) sport suspension and steering. While the standard suspension isn’t bad and provides sport/comfort/normal settings, the sports-tuned suspension has multiple driver selectable options that allow fine-tuning to the nth degree.
The Mulliner package also includes Bentley Flying B vents just behind the front wheels, Mulliner doorsill plaques, diamond-quilted leather seats and door panels, an indented hide headliner, a knurled finish on the organ stop controls and transmission lever, and drilled-alloy pedals.
The first thing I noticed about the cabin was the (optional) seat piping on the handsome shortbread-colored seats as well as the stitched Bentley logo, which, although optional, I would think should be a must-have item when specifying the car.
While the Mulliner Driving Specification package is quite comprehensive, our car also came with the Premiere Specification Package. This adds some safety items such as the rear-view camera and must-have creature comforts such as ventilated seats with massage in both front and rear. Mood lighting and bright stainless brightwork are part of the package as are veneered picnic tables. (I’ve refrained until now to ask, but has anyone remembered to bring the Grey Poupon?)
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