Bentley Gilds the Lily with Mulsanne Mulliner Driving Specification

When Bentley Motors introduced the Mulsanne last year, the company touted the sedan as the ultimate road-going executive express. And indeed, there’s no arguing with its prodigious performance: with 505 hp and a titanic 752 ft lbs of torque from its twin-turbo 6.75-liter V-8, the Mulsanne will dispatch 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and press on to a top speed of 184 mph—not bad for a car that measures 18 feet from bumper to bumper and tips the scales at 5,700 pounds. One of the few quibbles that motoring journalists had with Bentley’s exceedingly grand new flagship was that its road manners seemed tuned more for the serene pleasure of the passengers than for the delight of the driver. That changes for 2013, with the debut of the Mulliner Driving Specification. 

This sportier Mulsanne, easily spotted by its “Flying B” fender vents, made from cast, polished stainless steel, incorporates Bentley’s Drive Dynamics Control system, which allows the driver to tune suspension and steering systems to a preferred driving style from cloud soft to downright aggressive; the new Sport mode tweaks suspension and steering settings to deliver enhanced grip, improved body control, and greater steering accuracy. Power reaches the pavement through Z-rated high-performance tires on new 21-inch, light alloy wheels with race-derived, titanium fasteners. (Yes, the new rims are still compatible with Bentley’s optional self-leveling wheel badges.)

Inside, the new edition sports distinctive Mulliner badges, diamond-quilted leather upholstery, and drilled alloy pedals. As with every Mulsanne, the interior offers some two dozen choices of hide and nine wood veneers. All told, the interior fitments require some 170 worker hours to craft—including 15 hours on the steering-wheel stitching alone.

The 2013 Mulsanne reaches North American showrooms late this year with a starting price of $296,000, a small bump from the current $285,000. The Mulliner Driving Specification upgrade will add $15,750 to the bottom line.

As a footnote, Bentley enhanced the 2013 Mulsanne with a pair of enticing new options: a big tilt-opening moonroof and a champagne cooler between the rear seats. The latter features a motorized frosted-glass door, behind which hides a trio of hand-blown and hand-cut flutes and space for two bottles of your favorite bubbly. Cheers! (www.bentleymotors.com)

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