Bentley Mulsanne – Roll with it

Ian Lamming finds himself on a roll in the new Bentley Mulsanne Speed.

FREAK weather conditions are plaguing the Earth right now and today it’s the turn of the hailstorm.

Bad enough that the Bentley’s glorious two-tone paintjob is having to endure the indignity of being pelted by frozen droplets of rain – now where did I leave my man with the two branded brollies – but after attempting and failing to shot-blast the livery the deluge is deposited in the road, at least a couple of inches deep. Now that’s going to make for an interesting ride home.

Nothing to worry about really, just slot the eye of the needle, except this time the needle comprises high, jagged, drystone walls and the cotton is a three tonne monolith. And the Kia up my rear? That’s just a cursory detail designed to age me prematurely.

Just what does the driver in the Ceed see that I don’t? The road is festooned with icy jewels that are doing their very best to mimic ball bearings causing the front and rear ends to move around alarmingly. If you bend it, you buy it Mrs and with a total price tag, including lovely options, of more than £289,000, good luck with that one. That’ll be your first born gone then.

Risking a quick signal and a dab of the brakes I pull over and she is off to harass and harangue another unfortunate while I can relax, at least a tad, as the Mulsanne tiptoes home.

Ironic really as this is the ‘Speed’ variant, Bentley’s most powerful and quickest four door saloon – well, for saloon, read limo – yet I’m driving it slower than our Toyota.

Mulsanne is Bentley doing what Bentley does best, make highly desirable, stunningly capable and ultra-exclusive delights. Mulsanne is top of the range, Mulsanne is a true leviathan.

Look at the statistics – 18.3ft long, 7.2ft wide, 5ft tall and weighing in fully loaded at more than 3.0 tonnes, so that fills the road somewhat then. Shifting monolithic proportions like that requires a 6.75 litre twin turbo V8, producing 530bhp and a staggering 1,100Nm of torque, enough grunt to pull the Earth out of orbit and closer to the Sun, I would say. When it’s only pulling itself the oomph will fling it to the benchmark 60mph in a sports car-like 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 190mph – not that we would ever drive like that in this country your honour.

Driven normally, and not on frozen peas, Mulsanne is remarkably manageable – I even manage to reverse park it in the street to rapturous applause from passers-by impressed with my manoeuvring prowess. Ok, the reverse camera and beepers help but they aren’t to know and I’m happy to take the plaudits.

I’m also happy to drive this beast on the open road where it is staggeringly agile and grin-inducing fun. That silky V8 bellows in approval when worked a bit harder and its endless reserves of power are astounding. Divan-like ride becomes sporty and computer-controlled at the turn of a knob and what is a gargantuan vehicle seems to shrink to accommodate more aggressive input from the driver – who would have thought it?

All great but what really sets Mulsanne apart is the delectable build quality and attention to detail, especially if you opt for the ‘Mulliner’ pack. Exquisitely upholstered diamond-quilted seats with embossed headrests and matching cushions offer drawing room levels of comfort and opulence. In the rear, tablet-style monitors rise majestically from the backs of the front seats when required, which link via Bluetooth to headphones and the £16k optional infotainment centre. Driver gets a knurled gear lever, organ stop controls and drilled alloy sport pedals.

The interior is swathed in cow and carbon fibre and the fascia resembles that of an aircraft cockpit with myriad switches, a touchscreen and old fashioned dials. It’s a feast, a fusion of old with new. From the tip of the distinctive Flying ‘B’ radiator mascot to the end of its slightly funereal rump Mulsanne drips, oozes and excretes finesse, class and charm.

In weather like this it could have proved to be a very expensive toboggan, but if you are going to tackle the Cresta run you might as well do it in perfect comfort and style.

Fact File

Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Engine: 6.75 litre twin turbo V8

Power: 530bhp

0-60mph:  4.8 secs

Top speed: 190mph

Combined MPG: 18.8

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

CO2 g/km: 342

Price: from £289,325.00 (including options)