Saturday 24 July 2010
Top speed: 184mph 0-60mph 5.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 393g/km
Best for: Everything except fuel consumption
Also worth considering? Maybach, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Rolls-Royce Phantom
Bentley's magnificent Mulsanne is in many respects exactly what you'd expect. The latest "Grand Bentley" is a showcase for the company's best craft skills, and its 6¾ litre engine shares its architecture with the V8s that have powered cars from Bentley and Rolls-Royce for half a century. That fact reminds us that when those former sister brands, now competitors, separated over a decade ago, most of their shared DNA – the factory, the people, the designs – stayed with Bentley in Crewe. The Mulsanne's handsome styling is pretty much what you'd expect, too. It would probably be too staid for Bentley's higher-selling continental models; for this more expensive car, it is just right.
But take a closer look at the Mulsanne's body, and it goes a bit Roald Dahl on you. Not so much a Tale of the Unexpected, though – more a Tail of the Unexpected. Because the boot-lid isn't a steel affair upon which men with hammers have lavished weeks of effort, but is instead made of a modern composite material. Bentley refuses to spoil the Mulsanne's lines with an external antenna for the satellite navigation system, so it lurks beneath the boot-lid. The composite skin allows the signal to penetrate.
And that gives a clue to this car's other side. As well as representing the pinnacle of British wood-and-leathery, it is full of the latest technology and an outstanding driving machine as well. Bentley's finest doesn't, as the old cliché has it, shrink around you – thanks in part to its deliciously precise steering, it never feels unwieldy in the first place. Flick the Mulsanne hard from left to right and back again on a roundabout and you will find that 2.6 tonnes and 5.6 metres of craftsmanship and fine engineering can change direction as easily as the best cars with only half the mass. The Mulsanne's V8 may be related to past designs, but it is really a new engine, so extensive was the development work devoted to enhancing low-end torque and providing a new smoothness and crispness of response.
The best car in the world? Perhaps, although I suspect that such an unqualified title can now only responsibly be conferred on something that consumes fewer of the planet's resources, even if this wonderful Bentley is likely to be cherished for ever, rather than discarded after a mere decade of use. Call it instead the finest example of the car-maker's art on sale today, and you won't be too wide of the mark.
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
Scottish salmon sales leap as Asia develops a taste
Grim second life of the 'breastaurant': The oft-loathed sector is booming in the States thanks to Hooters, Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt
Health: When masturbation can be fatal: The practice of auto-erotic asphyxia is often concealed by a coroner's verdict. Monique Roffey looks at a lethal taboo
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...