Find a car review

Make
Model

Bentley Mulsanne Speed review - luxurious, but is it fun?

Can the world's most torque-rich production car reward its driver?

Evo rating
Price
from £252,000
  • Characterful; superb build quality; point-to-point pace
  • Some body roll; a bit pricey...

What is it?

One of the great pleasures of this job is finding The Thrill of Driving in unusual places. Who’d have thought a Twingo RS could be an absolute hoot around Spa? Or that a Skoda Yeti can yield hot-hatch-type thrills along your average B-road? Both are recent examples, I might add.

In a similar vein, it’s intriguing to investigate – or call out – manufacturers who claim to have divined The Thrill from the unlikeliest of vehicles. And with that in mind, we bring you the Bentley Mulsanne Speed, or ‘the world’s fastest ultra-luxury driving experience’, according to the men and women of Crewe.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

Engine, transmission and 0-60mph time

The Speed is Bentley’s flagship and, at 2610kg, that’s an appropriate term. Power is supplied by the firm’s 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 – a motor that in one guise or another has been in production since 1959. Today this galactic motor is EU6 compliant and produces 530bhp – a 25bhp increase over the standard Mulsanne. 

For the Speed, the combustion system has been redesigned, including the chambers, inlet ports, fuel injectors and spark plugs, plus there are revisions to the engine’s variable valve timing system and compression ratio. 

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Torque – the Mulsanne Speed’s trump card – is up to 811lb ft from 752, and overall efficiency, according to Bentley, is improved by 13 per cent. With Bugatti Veyron production having ended, that torque figure is the highest of any production car on sale. The standard Mulsanne receives the same ‘efficiency upgrades’, plus a more relaxed gearshift calibration to create some differentiation between the versions.

On the road, the Speed’s torque is the first thing that hits you… hard. With it all available at 1750rpm, the accelerative punch is deep-rooted, relentless and quite startling. The 0-60mph sprint takes 4.8sec and the top speed is 190mph. Porsche owners, then, will need to think carefully about taking on a Speed – at least on the straight bits.

A Bentley insider told us that a three-speed auto ’box would be sufficient given the torque on offer. However, the eight-speeder contributes to efficiency and is perfectly smooth and swift – there’s also a new ‘S’ mode that keeps the engine speed above 2000rpm. 

Technical highlights

And if you like your factoids, here are some more. It takes 400 hours to build a Mulsanne (30 to build the engine), the Speed’s wheel design is directional (being unique to each side), the rear lamp ellipses have a 3D effect, the dark matrix grille is laser cut and electrocoated to withstand stone chips at high speeds, the engine has a cylinder-cut function, the bootlid material is composite so that the antennas underneath work, and lastly, Mulsanne customers often personally select wood veneers that have unique patterns in them – like faces. In short, this is an exquisitely lavished car that mixes old and new quite spectacularly.

What's it like to drive?

Revised suspension creates a little more feedback and sharpness in the chassis than the standard car can muster, but you would never call the Mulsanne Speed wieldy. There is pleasure to be taken from carving along fast B-roads – the chassis is easy to read, the tyres grip remarkably well and the Speed has no bad habits. Steering feel, as you’d expect, is masked, but there is just enough feedback for you to accurately place and adjust the car neatly when pushing on. Bentley certainly has considered the driving experience, even if physics ultimately prevents the Speed from being a true drivers’ car.

In terms of driver settings, you can select four modes – Comfort, Bentley, Sport and Custom. As you progress through the first three, the air suspension gets firmer, steering weight increases and the engine’s response is ramped up. Cylinder deactivation is also disabled in Comfort (for maximum smoothness) and Sport (for the fastest response). ‘Custom’ allows you to pick-and-mix, but on this occasion we doubt you’ll need it.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Bentley is adamant that the Speed will be driven by its owners and you can feel that in the chassis. While its bulk prevents it from being an exciting steer, you can sense that it has been engineered by people who care about driving. Sure, the list price may raise an eyebrow, but Bentley’s craftsmanship really is something to behold. Add to this the fact that Bentley hasn’t just paid lip-service to drivers and you have a tremendously likeable car.

Rivals

Given quarter of a million pounds to spend on something fun, there are dozens of other performance cars you'd choose ahead of a Mulsanne Speed. But assuming for a second that you absolutely must have four luxurious pews, plenty of luggage space and a suitably aristocratic badge on the grille, what are your options?

The obvious choice is a Rolls-Royce Ghost - a snip, at £216,864 with the standard wheelbase, and just under £250,000 with a long wheelbase. It's certainly fast - a tenth quicker to 60mph than the Mulsanne (it's a third of a ton lighter), but better at slow speeds than it is to drive with pace. If you're prepared to lose two doors but gain in entertainment, the £229,128 Wraith coupe is a better option.

Positively bargainous is the ludicrous V12 biturbo, 621bhp, Mercedes-AMG S 65 L - £182,750 and a 4.3-second 0-60mph sprint. There's not a lot of steering feel, but mighty pace.

Price

The Mulsanne Speed currently costs £252,000, around £22,000 more than the regular Mulsanne.

Advertisement

Have You Considered

Visit/mercedes/gle/201748/2019-mercedes-gle400d-review-a-worthy-original
Mercedes GLE

2019 Mercedes GLE400d review – a worthy original

12 Sep 2019
Visit/porsche/porsche-911-carrera-4/201744/2019-porsche-911-carrera-4-and-carrera-4-cabriolet-detailed
Porsche 911 Carrera 4

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet detailed

12 Sep 2019
Visit/mercedes/201726/mercedes-amg-electric-car-to-target-porsche-taycan-and-tesla-model-s
Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG electric car to target Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S

10 Sep 2019
Visit/volkswagen/18328/2020-volkswagen-id3-revealed-vws-electric-revolution-is-here
Volkswagen

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 revealed - VW’s electric revolution is here

9 May 2019

Most Popular

Visit/mclaren/201759/new-mclaren-gt-review-woking-muscles-in-on-aston-martins-home-ground
McLaren

New McLaren GT review – Woking muscles-in on Aston Martin’s home ground

Is McLaren’s first grand tourer just a toned-down supercar, or something more nuanced and special?
17 Sep 2019
Visit/review/201600/milltek-volkswagen-up-gti-review-tuner-takes-supermini-to-145bhp
Review

Miltek Volkswagen Up GTI review

VW’s Up GTI is already a favourite of ours. Can Milltek’s upgrades improve it further?
16 Sep 2019
Visit/features/17721/the-best-family-cars-that-are-fun-to-drive
Best cars

Best family cars that are still fun to drive

Saloon, hatchback or SUV, family cars come in all shapes and sizes, and needn’t be a snore to drive. These are some of the team’s favourites.
13 Sep 2019
Visit/features/22872/goodyear-eagle-f1-supersport-the-toughest-test-advertisement-feature
Advertisement Feature

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport (advertisement feature)

We went to Bedford Autodrome to find out what evo readers think of Goodyear’s new Eagle F1 SuperSport Ultra Ultra High Performance tyres
10 Jul 2019