The Bentley Mulsanne received a series of updates for the 2017 model year. These include a face-lift that brings a new look, a nicer interior, and for the first time ever an extended-wheelbase (EWB) model. The EWB joins the standard version of the Mulsanne, and a 530-horsepower model dubbed Mulsanne Speed that stands out as the performance-focused member of the lineup.
It ’s nearly ten inches longer
The EWB is the first-ever factory-built long-wheelbase Mulsanne. Bentley added nearly ten inches of sheet metal between the Mulsanne’s axles. Engineers reinforced the sills to preserve the sedan’s rigidity while keeping the extra weight as low as possible. As a result, the EWB’s center of gravity remains relatively low. Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Getting it to look good was easier said than done
Peter Robinson, the engineering platform leader for the Mulsanne lineup, told me one of the most difficult parts of stretching the flagship was making sure that it didn’t end up looking like “a long sausage.” That’s why designers have added an arched character line to the quarter panel, a styling cue that makes the Mulsanne EWB look shorter than it actually is.
It ’s dynamic to drive
Bentley admits there’s no such thing as a typical Mulsanne EWB buyer. Some customers will never sit behind the wheel, while others will drive themselves most of the time and occasionally hire a chauffeur for the sake of convenience. The company catered to both types of buyers by striking a balance between comfort and sportiness, thanks in part to a drive mode select switch located on the center console. Behind the wheel, it doesn’t feel like you’re driving a long-wheelbase model regardless of which mode is selected. Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
It ’s immensely powerful
Bentley hasn’t made any major mechanical modifications to the EWB model. That means it uses a Mulsanne-sourced 6¾-liter V8 engine that develops 505 horsepower and a mighty 752 pound-feet of torque – that’s more than enough grunt to offset the weight added by the extra sheet metal. The eight’s output is channeled to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, scooting the Mulsanne from 0 to 60 mph in just over five seconds. Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
It ’s remarkably spacious
My dorm room in college wasn’t as big as the Mulsanne EWB’s cabin. The extra sheet metal yielded enough space for Bentley’s interior designers to install a pair of business class-style seats that recline and extend. For even more room, a switch on the rear center console lets the occupants slide the front passenger seat forward, as well as tilt it out of the way. Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
The center console is a jewel of engineering
The passengers sitting in the back benefit from two airplane-esque tablets hidden in the center console. The intricately-designed unit is made up of no less than 761 individual parts that allow the tablets to pop up, swivel, fold out, and even tilt. An in-car Wi-Fi connection and a pen holder turn the rear compartment of the Mulsanne into a mobile office.
There is wood trim everywhere in the cabin
There are no less than 40 pieces of wood in the Mulsanne’s cabin, and they blur the line between trim bits and works of art. The rear doors are longer on the EWB than on the standard Mulsanne, so Bentley uses a trick mirror-matching technique to build the trim that goes on the door panels. Twelve different veneers are available; if that’s not a wide enough selection, Bentley’s Mulliner division can build buyers a custom, one-of-a-kind car with virtually any kind of trim. Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
There ’s a champagne cooler in the back
A champagne cooler that wouldn’t look out of place in a cosseting hotel room is hidden behind the rear arm-rest. It quietly slides open at the push of a button, revealing an LED-lit compartment with three champagne flutes and space for two bottles. The cup-holders right behind the air vents can be configured to hold the flutes.
It ’s high tech
There is a 10.2-inch, Android-based tablet neatly integrated into each front seatback. The units pop up individually at the simple push of a button. The passengers sitting in the back can surf the internet, send navigation directions to the main infotainment screen that’s integrated into the dashboard, watch a movie, or choose which radio station they listen to.
It ’s exceptionally rare
Bentley will build just 300 examples of the Mulsanne EWB, and only 25 of those have been earmarked for the United States. Notably, none are going to Canada. That’s 25 total over the course of the sedan’s production run, not 25 per model year. To put those figures into perspective, Porsche limited 918 Spyder production to 918 cars, and nearly 300 of those were shipped to the U.S. Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
On paper, the Bentley EWB is exactly what its name implies: a longer version of the marque’s range-topping model. However, after riding in the back of the most exclusive Bentley on the market, I discovered that the story isn’t that simple. Bentley didn’t just stretch its flagship and call it a day.
Here are ten facts that throw light on what the Mulsanne EWB is – and, importantly, what it isn’t.