A while back, while enjoying a fine brunch one Saturday in Malibu, a man approached me with the most perplexed of expressions. After hearing of the fun and liberating sensation many of his compatriots had found, he had just returned from “a jaunt through the canyons above the hills of Malibu.”
He stated that after requesting that his chauffeur try a varying range of speed, he decided to have a go at the wheel himself. Apparently that was where he found the trouble! He said to me, “You see lad, my current ‘ride,’ as one may call it, is lacking that spirit and comfort at speed.”
After finding out that this gentleman was not one for sports cars and would like an automobile which would be equally as rewarding to drive as well as be driven in, the problem became clear to me. What was a man of such means to do? I quickly set myself to work to find a solution to this poor man’s problem and I comforted him through his brief period of despair and the two of us went on our ways, with a vow on my part to fix what ailed him.
Luckily, as I recently found, that hole in the luxury market is no more! Bentley’s newest addition to their premium line, the Mulsanne Speed, has arrived in 2015 and such a machine of hand-crafted speed and opulence there has never been before. For the most recent iteration of the Mulsanne, Bentley turned the clocks back to their early designs, and the result is sure to be just as timeless with that tall grill and big headlights at the end of a long hood. This, my dear readers, is what a sporting man (or woman’s) car should look like.
Let’s begin with the VIP passenger accommodations, wherein each seat and door cards are expertly covered in that uniquely Bentley diamond stitching to create an elegant seating environment suitable for any dignitary, CEO or this being L.A., well-off house flipper deserves.
At first glance, the Mulsanne Speed seems subtle. Well, perhaps, subtle is not quite the correct word, but, apart from the headrest screens, everything is wonderfully discrete in a typical low-key British fashion (despite the company’s German ownership). However, when you start pressing buttons, a phantasmagorical world opens up.
The central navigation and control screen folds away; switches and 12 volt cigarette lighter outlets are hidden, and, if you keep digging you’ll find some very British Easter Eggs.
Inside the back of the arm rest is, if you desire to spend the 10K+, a wine cooler suitable for three of your favorite bottles of bubby, which, if you so desire, can be served in real crystal Bentley champagne flutes designed to reflect the five spoke design of the single piece aluminum wheels. How about resting the flutes on the gorgeous fold-down tray tables, which make for either a wonderfully robust and classy work area or the nicest moveable snacking station known to man. An optional Bentley extra: integrated iPads and keyboards in each tray table. Of course Bentley being Bentley, if there is anything further a customer would like included in their Mulsanne, it can surely be done made to order.
But really, the Mulsanne Speed is all about moving forward and its drive, which has a leg over competition. The driver’s area is equally luxurious as it is functional for operating such a beast, and, at the right foot of whoever is lucky enough to be seated here, is an open tap to over 530 horses.
When considering this four-door behemoth weighs in at well over 6,000 pounds fully loaded, it may not seem like much, but thanks to a redesigned top end on the 6.75, sorry, “six and three quarter” liter V8 paired with twin turbochargers, the 811 pound feet of torque is really what makes this Speed so…speedy.
Depending upon driver preference, the Speed can also adapt its suspension and steering for a more taught driving feel. Additionally, the 8-speed automatic transmission can be programmed to quicken shifts and either keep rev’s higher to maintain boost or be controlled via paddles on either side of the steering wheel.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen rather large and powerful engines in rather large and powerful cars, and as one can assume, the acceleration behind a 4.8 second 0-60 time, while pretty mind blowing, feels less like acceleration and more just being forced into the seat as the scene of the outside world simply moves in fast forward.
The biggest shocker of them all solves that great predicament my brunch colleague had suffered with. The Speed is more than just added power and torque, the grip and cornering loads it can maintain is absolutely otherworldly in a three-ton limousine. I decided to take the Mulsanne Speed on a real world test — a day of driving through Stunt and Piuma Canyons above Malibu. Much to my chagrin, the Bentley is not made for such tight cornering at such high speeds. After a few spirited runs in the canyons, I called it quits. While the Speed is made to play, some play is much too much. I decamped to the wilds of Beverly Hills, where the straight lines of Wilshire Blvd. made for a perfect jaunt.
And so to my Malibuite, I found the resolution to his vexing troubles. I present, for a smidge under 400K, the very well equipped Bentley Mulsanne Speed: suitable for the finest of traveling as well as the occasional spirited driving. Driver not included.
Jon Alain Guzik is the luxury car columnist for Los Angeles magazine. He is the founder and EIC at DriveApart.com and dreams of owning a Ferrari 400i. For more of Jon’s writing on bikes and cars, go to RideApart.com.