Since its founding in 1919, Bentley has been one of the two most luxurious car brands in the world, alongside Rolls-Royce, also from the UK. The Bentley Mulsanne 2023 not only has a grand design and a supremely comfortable interior but also strikes a perfect balance between the seemingly conflicting quadrants of performance and luxury, once again taking Bentley’s name to the next level.
The Le Mans Curve is the name of the game
In fact, this top-of-the-range luxury 4-door flagship, named after the legendary French race track: the first corner after the great straight at Le Mans, is not the first Bentley ‘Mulsanne’ to be built, as it was first introduced in 1980-1992 when Bentley and Rolls Royce were still a family. The Mulsanne was a twin car that was almost identical to the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit/Silver Spur in appearance, but with a more driver-friendly cabin design, engine output and chassis tuning.
Born on 16 September 1888, Bentley founder Walter Owen Bentley (the neutral) was not only an excellent engineer, but also from good family background, so from the age of 16, he and his brothers were actively involved in all kinds of motorsport. The 3L Sport won the French Le Mans endurance race for an unprecedented four consecutive years after the brand was founded in 1919.
A tribute to the five Le Man’s 24-hour endurance races won between 1924 and 1930 (the sixth in 2003 with a Speed 8), the top luxury 4-door saloon was powered by the classic 6.75-litre V8 engine in front-engined, rear-wheel drive FR configuration, with the addition of the Mulsanne Turbo from 1982 to 1985. The Turbo turbo model was added between 1982 and 1985, boosting power output by 50%. Sorry to say, but for Bentley and Rolls Royce, who has always been very demanding in terms of performance, as each engine is hand-built, the figures have no meaning at all, and so in the early years, they have always had only the word ‘Enough’ in the engine performance data section of their brochures.
The first Bentley Mulsanne, launched in 1980, was in fact the twin Rolls Royce Silver Spirit/Silver Spur, almost identical in appearance, except for the change in front-end badge from a flying goddess to a flat B-wing, and a more driver-friendly cockpit, engine output and chassis.
But even though Mulsanne’s name comes from the glory days when Bentley and Rolls Royce were part of the same group, its rebirth 30 years later is a way for today’s Bentley to escape the days when it was suppressed by Rolls Royce. In the Mulsanne, not only do you see a lot of the original 1930s Bentley design, but the exterior is also a distant reminder of the 8-litre.
The legendary 8-litre was a luxurious two-door, four-seater saloon launched by Bentley’s founder in 1930, before it was acquired by Rolls Royce, with a 7,983 c.c. inline six-cylinder engine and a top speed of 125mile/h (about 200km/h), the fastest in the 1930s.
The 8-litre was a luxury two-door, four-seater saloon built by founder Walter Owen Bentley (W.O. Bentley) between 1930 and 1931 for only 100 years before being acquired by Rolls Royce. With the Mulsanne, Bentley wanted to remind the world once again of its glory. With the Mulsanne, Bentley wanted to remind the world of its glory.
Elegance and elegance in an 8-litre
The Mulsanne is still a British car, an elegant king on the racetrack, because even though the British brand has been part of the German VW Group since 1998, the engineering team in the British town of Crewe, which has absolute autonomy in research and design, has given the Mulsanne a sporty and magnificent curve.
The majestic and imposing front end features a large square tank guard and lower air dam in a stainless steel grille with the optional “Flying B” emblem above, and once you reach out and touch it, you will be amazed at how detailed the polish and workmanship can be. The LED daytime running lights are placed on the left and right side of the car, with a chrome-plated bottom reflector and light frame.
From the front of the Mulsanne, you can’t go wrong with the stainless steel tank guard and the optional “Flying B” emblem above it. The side view of the Mulsanne is the most impressive angle, with the streamlined shoulder line starting from the lower edge of the front bumper and working its way back to the top of the taillight assembly, where the rear fender is incorporated into the full rear end. The car has a full, elegant line.
Almost all the details of the Mulsanne, such as the door handles, the window frames, the trim below the doors and the optional stainless steel door B-pillars and front fender radiators, have been meticulously polished so that the devil hides in the details.
The Mulsanne’s traditionally shaped doors offer more rear-seat privacy, with a streamlined shoulder line running from the lower edge of the front bumper to the top of the taillights, and a full rear end at the rear fender.
Unlike the Rolls Royce Phantom and Ghost, which have their roots in European horse-drawn cars, the doors of the Mulsanne open in the traditional way.
The Mulsanne’s rear end is thick and full, with a wide, thick C-pillar that gently connects to the rear of the car and oval-shaped tailpipes underneath the left and right sides, echoing the same DNA tail light clusters and creating a full, elegant line.
The body of the Mulsanne also features the best of German technology and the best of British craftsmanship, including a single body designed specifically for the Mulsanne and built in the Crewe factory using aerospace technology to make the car lighter and stiffer, as well as an aluminium front fender and doors produced using special forming techniques, combined with a hand-welded C-pillar with no visible seams. The optional stainless steel metal radiator grille on both sides, the stainless steel cambered door handles, and the only other car on the market to have a fully encapsulated rear windscreen in a body panel, are further proof that the Mulsanne has been recreated to the highest standards of craftsmanship.
Subtlety, warmth and royal elegance recreated
The seats, hand-stitched by old Crewe craftsmen, may not look like they offer excellent coverage and support, but when you sit down, you realise that they do not, because, underneath the thick seat envelope, the Mulsanne still offers Under the thick seat envelope, the Mulsanne still offers plenty of back and lumbar support, and both seats are electrically adjustable, making it easy to adjust them to suit your body type. In addition, the Mulsanne, offered for a test drive by our main dealer, has optional breathable massage seats in both the front and rear seats, so that you can not only feel the gentle contact with the soft leather, the intimate massage but also smell the rich, warm scent of leather and the warmth of humanity.
Even though this is a top-of-the-range flagship that favours rear-seat buyers, Bentley never forgets to reserve the right to drive for them, so the Mulsanne’s front seats are still made of the same fine materials and design, and the steering wheel is very comfortable to hold.
As for the dashboard and centre console, the Mulsanne is a tribute to the classic Mulsanne, and of course, the dashboard has the traditional Bentley dual ring design with an LCD display in the centre, providing a wide range of driving information, and the tachometer and hour meter are reversed, so it takes a little time to get used to the actual reading. The centre console is made of solid wood, with elegant walnut wood and traditionally shaped solid steel air conditioning vents, and in the centre is a multimedia screen that slowly lifts up when the door is activated. The exclusive Naim audio system with a total of 20 speakers is a combination of practicality and quality, as well as a continuation of the traditional Bentley design.
The Mulsanne’s dashboard features the traditional Bentley dual-ring design with a central LCD display that provides a wide range of driving information and a reversed tachometer needle that takes a little getting used to. Below, on the left and right, are the fuel, clock and water temperature gauges, a dedicated iPod drawer, a 4-zone individual thermostatic air conditioning switch and, as an option, a dedicated Naim audio system with a maximum output of 2,200 watts for production vehicles.
After the front seats, it’s important not to miss out on the Mulsanne’s spacious rear seats, as this flagship at the pinnacle of contemporary Bentley has plenty of room to stretch out even for a 174-metre-tall author, with two central armrests in a traditional palace chair design basket and adjustment buttons for the air conditioning, seat and massage switches. The passenger seat on the right-hand side of the rear row also has a removable front passenger seat, allowing for even more space.