Full 2013 Bentley Mulsanne Review
Every automaker needs a flagship. The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne fulfills this charge with regal poise atop the already prestigious Bentley ladder. It's the top of the top with very few, if any, direct competitors. This is pricey, rarefied air up here, however. With a base price that is comparable to the average home price in the U.S., the Mulsanne is intended for a select few who expect all the comforts of home, but in a stately, well-crafted automobile.
Named after the longest straight on the famed Le Mans racetrack where top speed is achieved, the Mulsanne is in many ways a high-performance limousine. At over 18 feet long and 5 feet tall, one would never expect such a large sedan to perform as well as it does. While it's not the quickest Bentley available, its iconic "six-and-three-quarter-liter" turbocharged V8 supplies more than enough thrust to pin a quartet of Wall Street power brokers against the exceptional upholstery.
Those expecting a flawless leather-lined and wood-trimmed interior will not be disappointed. Nor will those expecting the latest modern conveniences, thanks to a helping hand from sister company Audi, as the electronics interface is very similar to Audi's MMI system. As one would expect, customers can choose from a seemingly endless list of colors for the exterior and interior, or specify any color they can dream up.
Those lucky enough to consider purchasing a 2013 Bentley Mulsanne don't have a wide assortment of comparable alternatives. But that small group of competitors is just as impressive. The 2013 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG outguns in performance and undercuts the Bentley in price, but lacks the gravitas of the stately Brit. A 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost is relatively close in price, but again, the Mulsanne is closer in image to the 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom, an ultra-luxury sedan that exceeds the $400,000 mark. All are fantastically great choices, so it will likely come down to which flagship plucks your heart strings the most.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne is a five-passenger sedan offered in one very well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights and taillights, heated and auto-dimming outside mirrors, power-latching doors and trunk lid, front and rear parking sensors, a self-leveling and adaptive air suspension, a sunroof and keyless ignition and entry.
Inside the cabin, occupants are treated to leather upholstery for nearly every surface, wood trim, glass-trimmed switchgear, heated 14-way power front seats with memory, heated eight-way power rear seats with memory (outboard seats only), four-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and power rear window privacy screens.
The Mulsanne's electronic interfaces include an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, Bluetooth, a multimedia interface controller with voice control and a 14-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, iPod connectivity, USB/auxiliary audio inputs and mini USB ports for smartphones or cameras.
Clients will likely indulge in at least one of the packaged options that include Premium Specification, Mulliner, or the limited Le Mans edition. The Premium Specification package includes a "Flying B" hood ornament (each one is unique and handcrafted by one person); bright stainless steel bumper trim and front fender vents; a jewel fuel filler cap; bright stainless steel door pillar finisher; tinted windshield header; iPod interface and leads with a hand-stitched leather storage case; veneered iPod drawer and minor gauges panel; veneered picnic tables in the front seatbacks; seat ventilation and massage function added to front and rear seats; valet key; a rearview camera and ambient interior mood lighting.
The Mulliner option is essentially Bentley's sport package with a choice of three different 21-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension and steering; Mulliner Flying B fender vents; diamond-quilted hide door panels and seat covering; drilled-alloy pedals; a unique headliner; unique door releases; knurled-finish organ-stop vent controls and gear lever; and a "Commissioned by Mulliner" plaque.
The Le Mans Edition package includes the features of the Mulliner, plus special "Le Mans Edition" badging throughout the interior, quad exhaust tailpipes and a choice of bright turned aluminum or dark-tinted turned aluminum on minor gauge panel inserts.
Many of the above features are available within the exhaustive list of stand-alone options. Other options include a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a 20-speaker Naim ultra-premium audio system, WiFi Hotspot and UPnP media player, a rear-seat entertainment system (with twin 8-inch rear-seat monitors) and a frosted-glass refrigerator with crystal champagne flutes. Naturally, there's also an exhaustive collection of paint colors, leather choices and wood veneers from which to choose. Of course, you may "commission" your very own color and material combinations, for a price.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne is powered by a turbocharged 6.8-liter V8 that produces 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission offered and it channels power to the rear wheels. In Edmunds testing, a Mulsanne accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13 mpg in combined driving (11 city/18 highway).
Safety features for the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne include front and rear side airbags (for head and body protection), stability and traction control and antilock disc brakes. In Edmunds testing, this Bentley came to a stop from 60 mph in an astoundingly short 111 feet, repeatedly. A rearview camera is optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
While other manufacturers tout "attention to detail," Bentley treats the 2013 Mulsanne's cabin with more of an "obsession with detail." Nearly every surface is covered in leather; it even lines the trunk. And this is not just any leather. Bentley reverted to the old style of tanning that yields an exquisitely supple feel and a more pleasant scent free of chemicals.
Switchgear is either glass or polished stainless steel, and all knobs are knurled in traditional Bentley style. The navigation and audio systems will be familiar to anyone who has used the same controller interface in a modern Audi. The screen is clear and legible, and operation is easy once you learn the menus.
Naturally, comfort is paramount with any luxury car, and the Bentley Mulsanne excels in this arena. The seats are shaped for a variety of body types and there is enough head- and legroom for taller passengers. In the event you need more legroom -- chauffeuring an NBA center, for example -- the front passenger seat can slide all the way forward to accommodate. The trunk is similarly spacious, with room enough for several golf bags and large suitcases.
Despite a curb weight of nearly 6,000 pounds, the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne moves with the urgency of a much smaller and lighter car. Its 505 hp might not sound all that impressive, but the 752 lb-ft of torque certainly is.
Yet such potency doesn't detract from the big Bentley's emphasis on luxury. Unless you floor the pedal, you won't even notice the presence of an engine. Acceleration is likewise deceptively quick, requiring the driver to closely monitor the speedometer. Around turns, the Mulsanne is sure-footed, but certainly not nimble. But sports car handling is not this car's priority. The Mulsanne is built to bear occupants in ultimate luxury, insulated in a silent aluminum-bodied, leather- and lamb's-wool-lined bubble. And on that score, it achieves magnificently.