Changes to the 2014 Bentley Mulsanne are concentrated in the rear-seat area. A new optional entertainment package includes not only rear-seat entertainment but also iPad holders in the foldout picnic tables, space for a wireless keyboard, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. The comfort package now comes with winged headrests along with new footrests and matching cushions. Power-deployed window curtains are available. Oh, and there are three new interior and exterior colors...
The 2014 Bentley Mulsanne is the ultimate sedan and the purest modern expression of the brand. The Mulsanne is an image-maker for Bentley and also, to an extent, for the person who owns one. The Mulsanne sits at the top of the Bentley lineup, taking the place of the old Arnage. Unlike the Arnage, though, the Mulsanne is not an old car. It is a from-the-ground-up new design that made its debut for 2011.
If the 2014 Bentley Mulsanne didn't feel special, far fewer people would buy one, so Bentley goes to considerable lengths to make sure that it does. The needles on the speedometer and the tachometer -- both real instruments, not digital facsimiles -- sweep downward from the one-o'clock position, as they do on classic Bentleys. Hand-stitched leather, in your choice of twenty-five hues, covers every surface that isn't real wood or metal. Speaking of wood, the extensive wood trim in a Mulsanne interior -- on the dashboard, the front and rear center consoles, the roof consoles, the rear center armrest, and the door caps -- is available in a choice of six different veneers. For the Mulsanne, one question is how to reconcile all that olde-worlde craftsmanship with today's demand for the latest technology. A few interesting examples: the modern, eight-inch touchscreen is concealed behind a wood-veneered panel when not in use; there's also a leather-lined drawer to hold your iPod or cell phone. There are no charming anachronisms here; everything just works.
It's the same behind the wheel. The 2014 Bentley Mulsanne is powered by the most traditional Bentley engine, a turbocharged V-8 of 6.75 liters. Although it is a traditional layout and displacement, this is a modern unit, with current technology such as cylinder deactivation and variable cam phasing. The engine's output of 505 hp is -- ahem -- less than that of the twelve-cylinder engine in the less expensive Flying Spur, but its massive torque figure of 712 lb-ft is comfortably on top. And torque is what it's all about when you're moving a heavy car like the Mulsanne, particularly when you want to do so with the least engine-revving drama possible. The deep-voiced V-8 can haul this heavy machine from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, but you're more likely to appreciate the effortless thrust that results from a more measured dip into the throttle. You have a choice of three settings for suspension and steering: comfort, sport, or the default "Bentley" setting. In none of them does this car heave or wallow -- if anything, it errs a bit on being too firm and allowing some road harshness through. For the best possible ride quality, stick with the 20-inch wheels rather than the optional 21-inchers.
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