Bentley Mulsanne V8 Auto business car test review
Car review: Richard Lofthouse
What is it?
Bentley’s flagship, which replaced the Arnage in 2010 and now has a new, enhanced executive interior aimed at business leaders who like to carry on working while the chauffeur does the driving. That said, the Bentley Mulsanne is aimed squarely at people in the market for a Rolls-Royce Phantom but want a sportier offering at a lower price point and might still consider driving it themselves. From £224,700 OTR.
- The only remaining heir to the pre-VW Bentleys, via the 6.75 litre V8 engine, which has bags of character yet shuts down to four cylinders to save fuel when cruising
- Unique sound and feel compared to any other luxury car money can buy
- Greatly enhanced rear passenger leg-room over the Arnage makes this a genuine chauffeur drive proposition, and results in external vehicle length rising to 18.5 feet.
- Sporty edge that Rolls Royce just doesn’t possess, extending to the unique 21 inch alloy wheels
- Eight speed automatic gear box is superb, especially now that it is accompanied by a sport setting which extends to the variable damping, allowing the car to be driven much more quickly than is otherwise apparent
- Custom options are almost endless, from hundreds of colours to colour-matched hide leather and uniquely crafted wood veneers
- Fabulously good looking vehicle that remains fun to drive
- It’s not a Rolls-Royce – meaning that it’s a very intelligent alternative, more of a driver’s car, more flamboyant yet less well known, and more exclusive
- It’s not a Rolls-Royce – meaning that it doesn’t have the ultimate bragging rights, and neither does it have the same level of accommodation for rear-seat passengers
- The boot is undeniably small for such a huge vehicle, because all the space has been given to the passengers
- Suffers 35% company car tax banding on full P11d price since removal of £80,000 price cap
- Enormous running costs
Business Car Manager Road Test Verdict
Obviously this vehicle is for the seriously wealthy, fantastically successful entrepreneur, with a three year cost in depreciation alone of well over £100,000.
That said, what you get is one of the most beautifully crafted works of automotive art ever to grace the roads. In particular, Bentley’s commitment to continuously update an engine with 54 years of heritage behind it is incredibly rare these days.
The result is obvious the minute you hit the ’Start’ button. Instead of getting Rolls-Royce’s near silence, or the industrially smooth growl of the Continental range, you get a faintly quivering, ‘thunderous’ engine of enormous refinement yet still more enormous character. Driving a Bentley is therefore fun. Throw in a full ‘sport’ setting and it becomes truly dynamic, relative to the sheer size and weight of the vehicle.
But the weakness of the Mulsanne is that it is less a driver’s proposition than the old Arnage, by virtue of its attempt to compete directly with the Rolls Royce Phantom. The test car came with shiny cigar ash trays in the rear aimed at Chinese plutocrats. In this sense the Mulsanne is less driver-focused than the Continental range, and less passenger focused than a Phantom. It falls between those two stools.
Further complicating the matter is Bentley’s release of a brand new, 4 litre V8 boasting a 40% improvement in fuel economy and emissions – but it is aimed at the Continental range rather than the Mulsanne, which inevitably starts to look slightly antique by comparison.
Bentley Mulsanne V8 Auto – the low down
|P11D Value:||£ 224,815|
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT):||From £4002 (3yrs/30,000 miles)|
|Tax Bands 2011/12 to 2013/14:||35%, 35%, 35%|
|Benefit in kind 2011/12 to 2013/14:||£78,685, £78,685, £78,685|
|Engine:||6.75 litre V8|
|0-62mph/top speed:||5.1 secs/184mph|