Performance & mpg

Under the hood, the 2014 Bentley Mulsanne gets a twin-turbocharged 6.8-liter V8 that produces 505 hp and 752 pound-feet of torque. A standard eight-speed automatic sends that output to the rear wheels.

In Edmunds testing, a Mulsanne accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 184 mph. EPA fuel economy estimates are fairly dismal at 13 mpg in combined driving (11 city/18 highway).

Exterior & Styling
Bentley’s recent styling direction has been one of understatement and refinement, and the new Mulsanne is no exception. The car cuts a dramatic profile, with its big, upright grille and huge, round headlights meant to evoke Bentleys of the 1920s and ’30s, but the sense of scale is somewhat misleading until you walk up to the car. This is a seriously big sedan, especially by European standards, and the shape evokes a sense of mass and solidity that adds to the Mulsanne’s considerable presence. My test car was done up with two-tone paint, Tungsten Gray over Onyx Black, which only added to the formal, classic feel of the car. Gazing down the long hood at the winged “B” hood ornament (which you can retract into the hood by hand, if you like) is like stepping back in time, given how rare hood ornaments have become in this age of aerodynamic efficiency and pedestrian-safety regulations. The overall look is attractive, imposing and practically screams “old money.”

How It Drives
The heft and mass of the Mulsanne both works for and against it when the car is in motion. Fire up the hand-built “6 ¾ Litre Twin Turbo” V-8, as it is lovingly called on a plaque inside the engine compartment, signed by the guy who assembled the motor, and you’ll be activating one of the most powerful engines you can buy in an automobile. The old-school V-8 (it’s been with Bentley, in various forms, since the 1950s) is immensely powerful, generating 505 horsepower and a gut-twisting 752 pounds-feet of torque, then channeling it through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. It’s enough to move the big Bentley from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds — faster than many sports cars. Considering the car weighs nearly 5,700 pounds (more than a Chevrolet Suburban), that is an extraordinary accomplishment. Acceleration comes in a mad rush of speed that is almost uneventful, given how quiet and serene the experience is. You’ll find yourself at super-legal speeds before you realize it, which is a testament to the Bentley’s refinement and comfort.

The steering feel is somewhat numb, with a slow ratio, but is steady on-center and accurate enough. The car is not likely to be autocrossed by anyone, but one could easily imagine it being driven with spirit through the canyons of Los Angeles, from posh hillside suburbs to beachside restaurants. In that application, the Mulsanne does not embarrass itself, providing steady and controlled handling and a compliant, smooth ride. An electrically adjustable suspension allows the driver to select one of four modes between Comfort and Sport, which can firm up the adaptive shock absorbers and steering response or turn them all pillow-soft for enhanced comfort.

At speed, serenity is the order of the day. Everything is hushed in the Bentley thanks to copious amounts of sound insulation and laminated window glass. You know you’re in a quiet car when you can hear the fans whirring for the heated and cooled rear seats from the driver’s seat. Only two things disturb this calm: tire slap from the massive, optional 21-inch wheels, and a surprisingly unrefined powertrain vibration from the cylinder-deactivation feature in the V-8 engine. Especially when cold, the variable displacement function that cuts off fuel to cylinders in the vain search for better fuel economy sends a buzzing vibration when you lift your foot from the accelerator. A little more help from Volkswagen (Bentley’s owners since 1998) powertrain engineers to smooth this out would be a good idea.

The effect cylinder deactivation has on fuel economy has to be negligible. The Mulsanne is rated 11/18/13 mpg city/highway/combined, and my 600-mile drive up through Michigan’s thumb region to see the fall foliage saw the Bentley return about 17 mpg in mostly highway driving. That’s not bad for such a massive car with an enormous engine, and chances are if you can afford to purchase a Mulsanne, you’re not terribly worried about fuel frugality.

Cosseting passengers in layers of luxury is what the Mulsanne is really about, and the big Bentley delivers. Open the massive doors and slide inside, and the first thing you notice is how it smells — like leather. Traditional country club lounges, well-made jackets, expensive handbags and the Mulsanne’s interior all share the same scent of expensive leather. Optional diamond-quilted hide covered the seats and doors of my test car, with more leather on the headliner. Slide into any one of the Bentley’s comfortable seats and you’ll gaze at acres of real wood so glossy it blinds you if the sun hits it just right. Everything from the ashtray lids to the power windows moves with a slow, damped action. The only curious part of the Mulsanne’s interior comes from a lack of vertical space — headroom is tighter than one would expect, the result of an unusually high floor. Getting out of the Bentley, you step down instead of up — the Mulsanne is a high-riding car, it only looks low from the outside.

As nice as it is to drive, the real place to enjoy the Mulsanne is from the backseat. My tester came with heated, ventilated, massaging rear seats that also feature tray tables built into the front seatbacks. There’s an optional rear passenger multimedia entertainment system, too, and if you’d like to darken the theater to enjoy your movie, there are standard powered privacy screens for the rear window and both side windows, as well.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The controls are an interesting mix of traditional Bentley, such as the “organ stop” air-vent pulls, and modern Volkswagen Group bits. The multimedia system is straight out of Audi in its operation and design, with Bentley even referring to it by the Audi “MMI” name. This isn’t a bad thing, as Audi’s Multi Media Interface system is one of the best in the market, with smooth and straightforward operation. Knobs for things like the gear selector are of a knurled metal that looks and feels expensive. Everything moves with a solidity and precision that seems suited to a car that costs this much.

The Mulsanne also features a full suite of electronics, including an optional on-board Wi-Fi hotspot, full internet connectivity, Bluetooth streaming audio, keyless entry and ignition, satellite radio and satellite navigation. Automatic distance-keeping cruise control is an option.

Cargo & Storage
One would think that a car this big would have a positively enormous trunk, but the Mulsanne does not — it’s just 15.6 cubic feet, and while it’s fairly deep, it’s not all that wide. By comparison, that’s a little less than your average Honda Accord sedan and 3.2 cubic feet less than a new Chevrolet Impala. Thankfully, Bentley offers custom-made matched luggage to maximize the space. Or you could just send your bags on ahead in another car on your way to your Gulfstream private jet.


  • Airbag - Driver
  • Airbag - Passenger
  • Anti-lock Braking System
  • Backup Camera
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Brake Assist
  • Stability Control

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