While other companies focus on cramming as much technology as possible into their cars, Bentley takes a different approach. The carmaker from Crewe, England, still believes luxury is about craftsmanship and ambiance, not the length of an optional features list. No car represents that philosophy like the Mulsanne.
Bentley’s flagship sedan gets an update this year, debuting at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. Going on sale as a 2017 model, the revised Mulsanne gets some styling changes, a new chauffeur-spec extended-wheelbase model, plus some new technology features, because even Bentley has to keep up with the times.
Like the previous Mulsanne, the updated model’s front end is about as subtle as a bank vault door. There’s a new grille that looks like it could swallow peasants, LED headlights, and a smoother front-bumper design. At the back, there are new taillights with a “B” lighting signature, and a new rear bumper as well.
This sedan is named after the long straight on the 24 Hours of Le Mans course, where Bentley has attained glory many times in the past. The new Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase model seems to want to live up to that name by covering as much real estate as possible. Designed for owners who spend most of their time in the back seat, it boasts a 10-inch wheelbase stretch compared to the already-lengthy standard Mulsanne.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Mulsanne Speed remains the sportiest version of Bentley’s big sedan. Its 6.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 produces 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, channeled to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. That gets this titanic vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 190 mph. Other Mulsanne variants use a less-powerful version of the same V8, with 505 hp and 752 lb-ft.
All Mulsanne models now have active engine mounts, suspension bushes, and special noise-absorbing tires to add further polish to the driving experience. There’s also a Drive Dynamics Control system with three driving modes selectable via a rotary knob on the center console. Bentley, Comfort, and Sport modes adjust suspension and steering behavior, while Custom lets the driver program her own settings.
On the inside, the Mulsanne gets a new infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, plus a pair of 10.2-inch Android tablets mounted to the backs of the front seats. In the Extended Wheelbase model, rear-seat passengers also get airline-style electric footrests, and a multifunction center console with everything from USB ports to cupholders. This being a Bentley, the console and everything else in the car are finished in high-quality wood veneers, leather, and metal.
Following its debut in Geneva, the updated Bentley Mulsanne is expected to begin shuttling the One Percent this summer.