What is it?
Nothing less than the first bespoke Bentley in 80 years. Unlike all that have come and gone in the interim, it’s not an adapted design but a clean sheet, bespoke piece of work.
Though Bentley bridles at the suggestion, its job is indeed to replace the Arnage as Bentley’s pinnacle product, albeit a bigger, better equipped and substantially more expensive offering than its flawed but fun forebear.
So not only is its body and structure new, but so too is the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 under its bonnet. Yes, it uses the same outline architecture of the motor that first saw service in the 1959 Bentley S2, but the engine itself - the block, cylinder heads and internals - is completely new. Likewise the gearbox, which now has eight speeds.
What’s not new is the philosophy. The Mulsanne is still rear drive like the Arnage (and unlike the Continentals) and it still uses an open differential. It’s still aimed at people who like the idea of a traditional British luxury carriage but still want to enjoy driving it. Bentley says that 80 per cent of Mulsanne owners will travel in the front.
What’s it like?
Broadly very good indeed. You sit high in the car, surrounded by great slabs of wood and swaddled by the softest leather, and look down the long bonnet to those famed Bentley wings.
And while not everyone is going to agree with the way it looks, they’ll struggle to find just cause to complain about the way it goes. The headline figures - 505bhp and 752lb ft of torque - improve only a little on the numbers boasted by the Arnage, but it is the fact that peak torque now arrives at 1750rpm instead of 3250rpm that dominates the way the car performs. It’s so effortless that you almost wonder if the Mulsanne even needs a gearbox, let alone one with eight choices of ratio.
It handles and rides like a Bentley too. The Mulsanne may look like a limo but it doesn’t drive like one. There is an underlying firmness to the suspension even in its softest setting that brings outstanding levels of body control at the inevitable cost of some compromise to bump isolation.