I was recently told, “The Germans build the best British luxury cars,” by our editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie, who’s Australian. And you know what? It’s hard to argue with him. Just check out BMW’s take on Rolls-Royce: the awe-inspiring Phantom. Or this particular palace of sumptuous hedonism, the brand-new Bentley Mulsanne. The first proper Bentley since the 1930 8-Liter, the Mulsanne is rolling decadence, an automotive homage to Rule Britannia. The car’s level of opulence and intemperance is borderline obscene. We totally love it.
Still, try as they might — and they try (each Mulsanne is made with skins from 17 bulls, and they all smell glorious, thanks to a pre-1955 leather-tanning process) — the Germans are still, well, German. Meaning they’re anal-retentively compelled to build machines with monumental metrics. Would a Bismarck crack be crossing the line? What about Big Bertha?
Back in the day, high-end British cars were never about numbers. Since nearly forever, Rolls-Royce/Bentley (remember, they were the same company for almost 70 years) did not publish power figures. The car in question’s gumption was listed as only “adequate,” whether that was the case or not. Hell, Bristol still won’t let journalists within 100 yards of its cars.
This new Mulsanne, however, needs to be described by its superlative numbers. For instance, its 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-8 produces 752 pound-feet of torque at 1500 rpm. With the exception of a few heavy-duty diesels, the only production car that offers more twist is the 16-cylinder, quad-turbo Veyron. Not coincidentally, Dr. Franz-Joseph Paefgen is both the CEO of Bentley and the president of Bugatti.
In fact, there’s so much low-down torque that our road test editor, Scott Mortara, kept insisting the Mulsanne is a diesel. For those who care, the torque-monster engine also produces 505 horsepower. Bentley’s latest and greatest flows off the line like a redwood caught in a flash-flood. There’s simply no stopping it. Well, that’s not true, because at 15.54 inches in diameter, the Mulsanne’s brakes are the largest production units in autodom, period.
It’s logical to assume then that all that go (and stop) produces some pretty impressive test numbers, right? Are you holding onto your top hat and monocle? The 5984-pound leviathan sprints to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, about the same as a Nissan 370Z Roadster, and hurls itself to the end of the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds. The Mulsanne then does the next to impossible, hustling its 3-ton bulk around our figure eight in a respectable 26.8 seconds before hauling itself to a stop from 60 mph in a let’s-just-call-it-miraculous 108 feet. Adequate? More like compensating. Still, it’s hard to argue with the Aussie’s rule.
|2011 Bentley Mulsanne|
|Price as Tested||$330,000|
|Vehicle layout||Front engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|Engine||6.7L/505-hp/752-lb-ft twin-turbo V-8|
|Curb weight (f/r dist)||5984 lb (50/50%)|
|Length x width x height||219.5 x 75.8 x 59.9 in|
|0-60 mph||4.8 seconds|
|Quarter mile||13.3 sec @ 104.4 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||108 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||26.8 sec @ 0.69 g (avg)|
|EPA city/hwy fuel econ||Not yet rated|
|On sale in U.S.||Currently|