IMAGINE, for a moment, that you have just scooped a lottery jackpot, or that you are an industry tycoon, or that you play football for a side willing and able to pay you a ridiculously high wage or even that you have wads of “old money”.

Or perhaps you sucked on a silver spoon rather than a dummy in your infant years.

Then you might just be privileged enough to be carried in or drive one of the most luxurious cars money can buy.

Flagship of the Bentley brand, the Mulsanne is a limousine rivalled only by the Rolls-Royce Phantom in terms of opulence.

But I was driving the Mulsanne Speed – top of the Mulsanne ladder – which is not only a carriage of immense presence but one that despite its huge dimensions and weight is capable of showing most sports cars a clean pair of rear wheels.

It will accelerate from 0 to 62mph in under five seconds and reach 190mph in the right circumstances, yet for the most part it remains a car of grace and comfort.

With a price tag of about £250,000 – and my test car had £50,000 worth of options on top of that – buyers will expect only the very best. And they get it.

Thumbing through the options list is one of the delights of buying a Bentley. There are 25 standard body colours, a further 100 optional shades and further bespoke choices on request. For the interior, there are 24 standard hide colours, 12 veneers to pore over and the choice of either a 14-speaker or 20-speaker sound system for a supreme audio experience. And that’s just for starters.

From the magnificent grille and powerful signature LED headlamps through to the twin exhausts at the rear, it measures 5.575 metres, and its width in no less imposing at 2.208 metres.

With the retractable Bentley Flying B winged symbol poking out of the tip of the bonnet, the Mulsanne makes a powerful statement that draws attention wherever it may travel.

Attention to detail and exceptional luxury is everything in a Bentley, and with acres of space inside there’s plenty on offer for both driver and passenger. The driver’s seat is not only very comfortable but also adjusts in 12 directions, so you are virtually guaranteed to find the perfect driving position.

The piano black veneer in my test model was the finest I have ever come across, and lovely touches such as the central clock and organ-stop vents give an air of the traditional to what is a modern cabin.

The steering is surprisingly precise and light for a car of such bulk. There’s a whole host of technologies to help you drive and park but the aspect I remember most from a week behind the wheel is what a relaxing place this is to be. Unless you have to park in a tight spot, of course, when the sensors and camera become invaluable.

I put a couple of usually animated passengers in the two back seats for a journey of some 20-odd miles and never heard a peep from them as they toured the facilities on offer.

Star of the show in the rear was undoubtedly the illuminated and refrigerated bottle cooler with frosted glass and bespoke crystal champagne flutes, which revealed themselves at the touch of a button in a moment of electronic theatre.

In hushed tones they discussed the massaging and heated plump seats, the climate control, the side and rear curtains, deep pile carpet, duck-down filled leather cushions, twin tablets deployed from the seat backs and oversized vanity mirrors. Superlatives flowed freely.

The stately Mulsanne simply glides on its self-levelling air suspension, but a kick down on the accelerator pedal brings into play the twin turbocharged V8 petrol engine with a roar. It is simply breathtaking, with no sense of lag from the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Bentley created the Speed version for drivers who prefer to take the wheel themselves, abd with that in mind there are four driving modes to choose from.

A Mulliner Driving specification interior comes as standard, adding diamond-quilted seats, a knurled gear lever, drilled alloy sport pedals and optional carbon fibre waist rail inserts.

It takes 400 hours to create a Mulsanne – successor to the Arnage – and the end result is undoubtedly a vehicle of great beauty and terribly expensive. It will hold 21 gallons of fuel, and you will need that capacity because you are unlikely to achieve more than 20mpg.

If you thought the list price of £255,800 was staggering, then prepare to be floored by the price of some of the optional extras. The refrigerated bottle cooler with frosted glass and bespoke crystal champagne flutes will set you back £8,310, deep pile Wilton carpet mats for the front and rear cost £1,150 and the extra set of vanity mirrors comes in at £1,385.

Only the privileged few will ever get behind the wheel. It was certainly a privilege to drive such a magnificent motor car.


Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Price: from £255,800

Engine: 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 530bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving rear wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 4.9 seconds; top speed 190mph

Economy: 18.8mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 342g/km


Performance: *****

Economy: **

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***