What is it?
It’s a bit of a vehicular oxymoron, isn’t it? A Mulsanne to drive rather than to be driven in. And yet that is just what Bentley maintains the Mulsanne Speed is. And while a (near enough) three-tonne limo that is also a driver’s car seems a faintly ridiculous proposition, the flipside is that this is a 530bhp, sub-5.0sec to 0-62mph, £250,000 car. Of course, such a posh wedge of automotive real estate should be special to drive. And people who love cars will want to drive such an opulent thing. So, what’s wrong with making a version of the Mulsanne that caters for them?
Even so, the first question we need to address here is one of expectations. Bentley might choose to describe the Mulsanne Speed as a driver’s car, rather like Porsche might describe its Cayman GT4 as a driver’s car. All this means is that somebody needs to have a sit down with Bentley’s marketing people and explain why they need to be a bit more imaginative. Let’s face it – there are driver’s cars, and then there are cars that are memorable, enjoyable – spectacular, even – to drive. If it does the job well, this is only ever going to fall into the latter category, and that’s more than enough to delight us.
Having now armed ourselves with the blindingly obvious fact that the Bentley Mulsanne Speed isn’t going to be as incisive to drive as any kind of sports car, thereby not actually being a driver’s car in our books, we can turn our attention to what it does feel like.
This facelift has brought a fairly small sum of mechanical alterations beneath the substantially new – all-new fore of the A-pillar in fact – and sleeker-looking exterior.
These changes include new active engine mounts and suspension bushes, and advanced foam architecture for the Dunlop tyres to improve refinement. This combines with the standard air suspension and the velvet-padded hammer blow that is the 6.75-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol engine.