The Bentley Mulsanne is a car 80 years in the making. The last time the brand built a bespoke model from the ground up, W.O. Bentley was still on the payroll.

At the same time, the world was on the precipice of total financial ruin and Bentley itself was about to be bought by Rolls-Royce. While today’s backdrop bears some similarities to 1931, Bentley can at least now consider itself in good health.

The company has shown healthy post-recession growth, and under the guidance of new CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer the tectonically slow rotation of Crewe’s product renewal cycle is speeding up to include a much-anticipated SUV, allowing the Mulsanne to sit at the zenith of a larger line-up.

But for now it is for this flagship limousine to prove two things. First, that Volkswagen was right to allow Bentley sufficient freedom and scope to develop a unique £200,000 car at Crewe.

And second, that Bentley’s central offer – of effortless performance combined with hand-crafted luxury – still appeals in a market accustomed to high quality at a fraction of this price.

Top 5 Super luxury

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lotus Elise Cup 250
    First Drive
    29 April 2016
    The fastest, most track-focused and most expensive Elise ever made. It's simple, raw and immersive
  • Porsche 911 Targa 4S
    First Drive
    27 April 2016
    Slick looks, open-top fun and 911 handling sound brilliant, but the Targa has historically trailed the Coupé. How does the new model fare on UK roads?
  • Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d
    First Drive
    26 April 2016
    Jaguar's debut SUV wowed us abroad, but does it still impress as much here on the UK's roads?
  • Car review
    26 April 2016
    Electric saloon is ramped up beyond ‘insane’ for yet more effect
  • Car review
    26 April 2016
    Is this a genuine supercar slayer for top-rank sports car money?