In W.O.'s image
Bentley. Say it again: Bentley. It is a fairly simple word, not the easiest to pronounce, and yet it carries a huge amount of clout. The 20th Century saw many a great automotive tycoon come and go and Walter Owen Bentley was one of the most revered. His legacy has never been stronger and truer.
As you can read in my blog recounting my brief drive of a Continental Supersports, I'd never been a diehard fan of the brand, only the occasional gawker when an Arnage or Turbo R would glide by—no more than that, really. But as I stated, that has all changed now.
Further to my drive of the Mulsanne, Continental SS and GT, I became curious about the man that founded the brand back in 1919. In my brief reads, I discovered a person determined to bring the best out of the automobile of the time to the few and the privileged. The guy's life experience is captivating. It started off with locomotives, moved on to aeronautical and then he started Bentley Motors Limited. His career would take him to Rolls-Royce, Lagonda and later, Aston Martin. His story is a fascinating one, as is that of his road and racing cars.
I would recommend that anyone curious about the car business read up on the man and his work. I know I'll be doing more.
Doing so will help you understand the Mulsanne, the current top-of-line Bentley. The Mulsanne is everything the name sounds like it is. Like the word Bentley, it is a relatively uncomplicated word comprising of only two syllables, but when properly uttered it sounds elegant and expensive.
The Mulsanne is just that—and in strides. But that, you already knew just by looking at the car. It's massive, presumptuous, majestic, and a marvel to behold. This car makes no excuses for being what it is. In fact, it does quite the contrary with one of the longest hoods I've ever had to navigate through streets as opposed to canals. This bonnet serves as a private carport to the massive 6.75L twin-turbocharged V8. Unlike the rest of the car, it makes itself fairly invisible despite putting out 505 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque.
It does take a whack of power to make the stunning 21” wheels rotate. Believe me, each and every foot-pound of torque does well against the car's near 5,700-lb (2,585-kg) weight. The luxury liner will reach 100 km/h in a blink over 5 seconds and cruise all the way to a top speed of 296 km/h, but you'd never know it. And the 8-speed automatic transmission? What transmission?
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
Editor's Review Highlights
2012 Bentley Mulsanne Specifications