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 Ultimate luxury

First drives

Videos

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Bentley range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    3 July 2015
    Charming four-door city car gets Smart's new six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, in a bid to make the Forfour more versatile
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    First UK drive in the latest-generation MX-5 reveals an iconic roadster that's back to its best
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    Extra firepower and pared-down kerb weight conjure even greater brilliance from the Boxster's chassis. Pricey – but superb to drive
  • BMW's prototype fuel cell concept is based on the 5GT
    First Drive
    1 July 2015
    Fuel cell-powered 5 Series GT concept previews a revolutionary storage and refuelling system which could pave the way for hydrogen to become the alternative fuel of choice
  • First Drive
    1 July 2015
    There's another BMW 2 Series variant on the horizon; we drive a late-stage prototype plug-in hybrid Active Tourer