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Bentley Mulsanne: A first class air travel experience on the road

The world of large luxury sedans has shrunk over the past decade or two, but there are still some outstanding models available, typified by the Bentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase model.

The world of large luxury sedans has shrunk over the past decade or two, but there are still some outstanding models available, typified by the Bentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase model.

These regal cars are designed for customers who like to be driven. Lots of buyers like to have a car with exceptional roominess and one in which they can give business clients a comfortable run from the airport.

Bentley points out that the extended Mulsanne offers ‘a first class air travel experience for the road,’ but I’d say that this car goes well beyond that.

With this Mulsanne, the 250 mm stretch is devoted entirely to rear passenger legroom and the front area stays much the same as that of the standard variant, though it is exceptionally spacious and already has more than enough comfort for driver and front passenger.

Bentley says that this model is the most generously proportioned luxury car in its class. Certainly you’d have to look at a Rolls-Royce to find anything close, as this Bentley is one of the most comfortable ways possible to travel on four wheels, regardless of price or maker.

For such a large car, the Mulsanne is unexpectedly sporty. Experience we’ve had with big Bentleys has always been a surprise because they are a lot more agile than most people imagine, given their size. They can be driven along winding rural roads with surprising agility aided by responsive and precise steering. Simply by the numbers, the car will top 100 km/h in only a shade over 5-seconds and run close to 300 km/h at the top end.

It’s also a very elegant car to look at with almost a fastback design to the roofline. Power comes from a 506-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 that’s silky smooth and nearly silent.

An 8-speed automatic gets the power to the rear wheels. Technically, the car is fairly straightforward but that doesn’t mean that it lacks engineering sophistication. The refinement and sound-deadening alone is a major achievement and is a key factor for buyers who may want to travel lengthy cross-continent distances without stress.

The rear passenger area has just two seats, so these are very luxurious perches indeed and even have extending airline-style electronic leg rests integrated into their bases. The result is that rear passengers can choose between a reclined position and one involving a more upright posture. There could be room for three, but Bentley opted for maximum spaciousness for two rear occupants.

Back seaters get a roomy and luxuriously appointed centre console that features handcrafted veneer, metal, glass and leather. It houses some useful perks including USB ports, and a glass-covered stowage area. To make it even easier for those who want to work on a journey, a deployable folding table can be added to either or both seats. Above the rear seat area, there’s a large sunroof with a blind, both of which can be controlled from the rear seats.

This Bentley may have been designed to be chauffer-driven, but it has a level of performance that will tempt an owner to get behind the wheel whenever possible.

Few large sedans offer the kind of experience this Bentley does and it’s gratifying that the prestigious British automaker still offers a model like this and enhances and upgrades it year by year.

Looking ahead, Bentley has reportedly stated that it plans to electrify all models by 2023, including the Mulsanne. Initially, Bentley will take the hybrid route as it did with the already revealed Bentayga SUV. The first fully electric Bentley is promised for 2025.  

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