Everything About Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Power upgrade has done the impossible and made the Mulsanne better than ever

The thought of a Bentley without a V8 engine in its range is a bit like the Tower of London without ravens in its midst – it should never happen.
The result is this rather marvellous-looking Mulsanne Speed, here in a none-too-shy shade of orange, which we’ve driven on UK roads for the first time. The long, hand-crafted bonnet bedecked with a flying B, which points towards the extremely fast-approaching horizon, hides a 6.75-litre turbocharged V8 with a meaty 530bhp and a mighty 1,100Nm of torque. 
That’s 25bhp and 80Nm more than the ‘entry-level’ Mulsanne, so while the Speed may weigh in excess of three tonnes, it’ll still get from 0-60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. Don’t expect to match the claimed economy of 19.3mpg if you drive with such ferocity all the time, though – or even in normal driving, to be honest.

It’s an incredible sensation when you find a road that’s long, straight and quiet enough to floor the throttle. Your senses are flooded by the combination of V8 roar and an instant change in character from refined Cruiser to B-road blaster. Plus there’s the feeling of being pushed back into the most sumptuous and beautifully trimmed seats you’re ever likely to encounter in a car.

The revised gearshift reacts swiftly if you select Sport mode, while the adaptive dampers sharpen up their act to make the ride firmer and body control tighter. You can’t fight physics, though. This is a big, heavy car that’ll do a manful job of disguising its size through corners, but it can’t hide it altogether. What that bulk does is provide a level of calm and serenity you wouldn’t expect in something with this level of performance, muting the outside world when you dial the pace down.

In spite of its performance, the Speed glides in exactly the way you’d expect a Bentley to – it’s not pillowy soft, but it’s supremely comfortable with gentle reminders of the state of the road surface. The steering is similarly communicative – not quite razor-sharp, although then that would just feel wrong in a car of this size.
But perhaps most surprising of all is how Bentley manages to continually improve the quality of its cars – and they were pretty special in the First Place. Whether you like the old-school upright dash with its upside down speedo and rev counter is a matter of taste – we think it’s perfectly fitting in a Mulsanne. But the quality of every millimeter of surface is faultless, and the attention to detail fastidious. Plus, there’s enough, if not overly generous, space to stretch out in the back, if you prefer your chauffeur to take the wheel. 

Of course, some Bentleys roll down the production line in Crewe, Cheshire, with questionable colour schemes – and that’s part of the beauty of being able to tailor your own bespoke vehicle (and go to Crewe to see its gestation). But only Rolls-Royce can match the level of finish and detailing that goes into a Mulsanne, and even they miss out on the history behind Bentley V8s.

Key specs

  • Price: £252,000
  • Engine: 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Power/torque: 530bhp/1,100Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 4.9s/190mph
  • Economy/CO2: 19.3mpg/342g/km
  • On sale: Now