Wheels: Off the Bentley Path: A Home Run for the Mulsanne

No doubt most Bentley EXP 9 F SUVs will see more soccer fields than sand dunes. But Bentley buyers might not need a family-vehicle option if they already own a Mulsanne. Opulent as it is, the big sedan proved quite capable of handling domestic duties during a recent week of test-driving that included transporting our newborn son from hospital to home. What better way to safeguard a 7-pound, 13-ounce bundle of vulnerability than by nestling him inside the Mulsanne’s three tons of leather, lacquer, and chrome?

 

The Mulsanne is elegant and powerful, delivering a staggering 752 ft lbs of torque at only 1,750 rpm. But it is also exceptionally spacious (a 128.6-inch wheelbase and a 75.8-inch width) and safe, equipped with a full array of air bags and anticollision sensors as well as child-seat anchors and rear-door child-safety locks.

 

Though the Mulsanne is as big as a Chevy Suburban and as sturdy as a tank, Bentley does not bill the $296,000 sedan as a family car, the way Ferrari touts its four-seat FF, a vehicle with a $302,450 price tag and a 651 hp engine. Maybe this is because the designation would evoke images of grape-juice stains in the Mulsanne’s ankle-deep pile carpeting and Cheerios stuck to or wedged into its leather upholstery—which, Bentley notes, has been sourced from herds living in cooler climates where there are fewer insects to bite and blemish the hides.

 

The Mulsanne does not have some of the FF’s family-friendly features, such as a hatchback that makes loading groceries easier. But the trunk held all of the baby gear that came home from the hospital, plus a bouquet of flowers and an overnight bag. And our son did not seem to mind the front-seat headrests’ absence of rear-facing video screens, an FF feature that can pacify young passengers. Then again, I am told that a newborn cannot see beyond a foot.

 

Before we reached our destination, our boy issued what for him was the ultimate endorsement of the Mulsanne. Ensconced in the rear recesses of the luscious cabin, surrounded by double-glazed glass and obsessively engineered sound insulation, he succumbed to a deep sleep.

From Around the Web...
The limited-edition rocket rolls out with 215 hp harnessed by top-tier electronics…
We take a spin in the new manual V-12 to find out if it is the answer to driving purists’ prayers…
The new brand’s first bike will roll out at the New York City Motorcycle Show on December 9…
All proceeds from the sale of the 949 hp one-off will go the country’s recovery efforts…
Fashioned after the Palace of Versailles, the classic car epitomizes custom coachbuilding…
The 4-cylinder boxer power plant provides the mid-engine roadster with plenty of muscle…
Photo by Petrolicious
Though not street legal in the U.S., this Porsche proved quite popular…
Photo by Petrolicious
The Ferrari 312PB won all of the World Sportscar Championship races it entered in 1972…
Photo by Petrolicious
Driver David Hobbs recalls why the racer set new standards despite a rough season in 1971…
Photo by Petrolicious
David Swig from RM Sotheby’s explains why the extremely rare example garnered top dollar at auction…