2015 Bentley Mulsanne SpeedTue, 18 Nov 2014
Why does the Bentley Mulsanne Speed exist? Sam Graham, product line director for the Mulsanne, tells us Bentley's Western customers demanded it, many driven by memories of the Arnage T – the hotted-up version of the Arnage R. The Arnage T, you may remember, arrived in 2002 and threw down 459 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque on its way to being billed the most powerful production Bentley ever. Today's Mulsanne Speed picks up the torch and takes it all the way to the Olympic stadium.
- It starts with an upgrade to 530 hp at 4,200 rpm and 811 lb-ft of torque at a limbo-esque 1,750 rpm. That's an additional 25 hp and 86 lb-ft compared to the standard sedan, enabling a top speed of 190 miles per hour. That torque figure makes it second only to the Bugatti Veyron among production cars, and that terminal velocity makes it the fastest ultra-luxury sedan on God's Own Green.
- On a more practical note, that moxie also gets it from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, 0.3 seconds quicker than the base Mulsanne. Coupled with an eight-speed gearbox tweaked for smoother shifts, there's an Easter egg hidden in the bounty: increased fuel efficiency from the re-engineered, twin-turbocharged, six-and-three-quarter-liter V8, equating to 13-percent better gas mileage. That's 50 miles more range from a tank.
- You can tell the Mulsanne Speed from its more ordinary compatriots by the dark-tint finish applied to the mesh grilles and headlight and taillight surrounds, rifled exhaust pipes, and "Speed" logos on the fender trim and kickplates. The most obvious giveaway, however, are the wheels. These are Bentley's first-ever directional design, machined from chunks of aluminum and hand finished.
- Inside, every Mulsanne Speed is fitted with Mulliner Driving Specification, which bestows features like diamond-quilted hide panels, Bentley emblems on the seats, a knurled shift lever and drilled alloy pedals. The Speed goes one step beyond by being the first Bentley to offer carbon fiber as an interior option, laid into the 'waistrail' of veneer that encircles the cabin. Other new features include a new hide in Camel, a new veneer in Tamo Ash, a new color split on two-tone interiors and four new exterior colors: Candy Red, Camel, Marlin and Spectre (pictured).
- Behind the wheel, you don't crush the throttle chasing that 0.3-second advantage, you do it because it makes you giggle. In the transmission's "S" mode, which maintains engine speed above 2,000 rpm, you run the 0-60 sprint just 0.2 seconds slower than a Porsche 911 Cabriolet. In a car that weighs 2,700 pounds more, it's like riding an elephant to a photo finish loss at the Kentucky Derby. Give the throttle a tap when at speed, the ZF transmission rappels down a set of gears in one leap, and the beast is on the stampede before you can tell your passenger, "Hold my caviar and watch this..."
- Bentley took us to an abandoned airstrip to test the Speed's Sport driving mode, which lowers the imposing bodywork by ten millimeters (the base car doesn't do this on command), stiffens the air suspension, firms up the hydraulic steering and activates sportier traction control programming. On a makeshift circuit akin to the Top Gear test track, the Bentley punches below its 5,919-pound weight during cornering. The steering is able, although it's hard to miss an apex when you're driving Crystal Palace. Its air-filled supports keep yaw in check so the chassis can get and stay set through a turn, and the 265/40 R21 Dunlops – which look too thin for their mission – keep this Bentley pointed where you want. You can imagine our surprise when we pulled out a creamy four-wheel drift, which was only cut short when the traction control kicked back in; it's set to do that when one crosses the line from "spirited" to "hooning."
- A two-mile runway is a great place for a top speed run, and the Mulsanne cabin is an outstanding capsule in which to do it. Using the paddle shifters on launch just for the fun of it, we hit 165 mph before our chaperone instructed us to brake – out of prudence, not necessity. At such speeds, the windows turn into movie screens; it never feels like you're going that fast, rather, it looks like someone has made the scenery rush backward around you while you watch from your favorite leather chaise.
- We never thought the Mulsanne was missing anything – ours had iPads and a champagne cooler, for instance – but for those whose suggestion for improvement is always, "More," the Mulsanne Speed does a fine job of it.
- Twin-Turbo 6.75L V8
- 530 HP / 811 LB-FT
- 8-Speed Auto
- 0-60 Time:
- 4.8 Seconds
- Top Speed:
- 190 MPH
- Rear-Wheel Drive
- Engine Placement:
- Curb Weight:
- 5,919 LBS
- 15.64 CU-FT
- 12 City / 19 HWY
- Base Price:
- As-Tested Price:
By Jonathon Ramsey
See also: Bentley unveils the Grand Convertible, a droptop Mulsanne Speed, Bentley, Lamborghini consider foreign production [w/poll], Bentley SUV sheds some camo.