By: Dave Abrahams
Crewe, Cheshire - Bentley's new Mulsanne, revealed this week ahead of its world premiere at the Geneva motor show, is all about more.
More luxury, more power, more speed, more choices and, Bentley is hoping, even more prestige.
For the first time, Bentley's flagship becomes a range of models - the Mulsanne (in blue in the pictures), Mulsanne Speed (gold) and the Dorchester Hotel of luxury cars, the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase, in copper and gunmetal in our gallery.
With an extra 250mm of rear legroom, airline-style reclining seats and its own sunroof, the rear passenger area of the stretched Mulsanne is being advertised as the most relaxing automotive environment in the world.
The Mulsanne Speed, meanwhile, boasts 395kW and 1100Nm from its 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, surges from standstill to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds and tops out at 305km/h - which, on a luxury sedan weighing close to three tons, commands respect.
Four driving modes are available via a rotary switch on the centre console: Bentley, Comfort, Sport and Custom, which reflects your personal preferences for throttle response, gear shift-point settings, steering characteristics and damper mapping for the standard-issue air suspension.
In Sport mode, the engine is held above 2000rpm so the turbos are always spooled up for instant response, and the ride height is lowered automatically at high speeds.
The new Mulsanne is more than just a facelift - everything ahead of the A pillar is new. The entire front end now consists of just five panels - the bonnet, wings, grille and bumper.
The new grille is 80mm wider than before, featuring vertical stainless-steel strakes over Bentley's signature matrix, while new all-LED adaptive floating headlights automatically adjust to suit driving conditions.
The interior is finished, as befits an English luxury performance car with a 95 year heritage, in butter-soft leather (quilted or fluted - your choice) and hand-crafted wood veneers, with traditional knurled controls, cut-glass switchgear and bright-polished stainless-steel trim elements.
The dashboard features traditional analogue gauges - but there's also an all-new infotainment system based on an eight inch touchscreen in the centre stack, backed by a 60GB solid-state hard drive.
In the backrest of each front seat there's a removeable 10.2 inch Android tablet with special Bentley software, USB ports and a front-facing camera, which has access to the internet (the cabin is a 4G WiFi hotspot) and can stream audio through the car's sound system, as well as sending new destinations to the navigation system.
In the new Mulsanne you don't say "Home, James!", you tell the car and it tells James where to go.
It can also be specified with what Bentley says is the world's most powerful factory-fitted audio system - a 2200 watt Naim set-up with 20 channels, 20 speakers and super tweeters for crystal-clear high notes.
The Extended Wheelbase model comes with specially-developed individual rear seats with airline-style electronically adjustable leg-rests.
Between them is a handcrafted console in finished in leather, wood veneer and stainless steel, with USB ports, pen holders, cup holders and a glass-covered storage compartment, as well as an (optional) folding tray table for each rear seat.
Electric rear privacy curtains are, however, standard, as is an electric alcantara sun blind for the rear sun-roof.
Deliveries of the new Mulsanne will begin in midyear; in true Bentley tradition, nothing so crass as price is ever mentioned.