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For moguls on the move, the new Bentley Mulsanne Speed equals ultimate exclusivity

Can’t decide if you want a limousine, sports car, rolling cocktail lounge, or Wi-Fi-enabled mobile workstation?

Starting at almost $340,000, the new Bentley Mulsanne Speed is not going to be all things to all people; instead it will be many things to a select few. Think: multitasking mogul types with a penchant for high-performance motoring and ultimate exclusivity.
As its name suggests, the Speed is a hopped-up version of Bentley’s “base” (we use that term very loosely) $306,000 Mulsanne flagship, itself a palatial super-sedan packing 505 hp and every imaginable amenity short of an onboard personal chef. The extra $30,000 the Speed commands buys owners an additional 25 ponies and 59 lb-ft of torque, bringing the latter figure to a grand total of 811 lb-ft. That’s the most of any current production vehicle. Minor cosmetic tweaks include darkened steel grilles and exclusive wheels, each milled from a massive single piece of aluminum.

And yet, the Mulsanne Speed is not the quickest Bentley sedan. The marginally smaller and mildly less opulent Continental Flying Spur, costing nearly $100,000 less, holds that distinction. Thus, on paper, the Mulsanne Speed seems illogical. On the road, however, it’s delightful.

A three-ton, hand-built behemoth should not be able to move like the Mulsanne Speed. Pin the drilled alloy throttle to the plush carpet and the massive rear Dunlop rubbers skip a bit before linking up and propelling the Speed to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds. That’s quick enough to give some Porsche 911s a good run. In addition to squeezing extra juice from its venerable V8, Bentley has given the Speed stiffer air suspension, tighter steering and sharper shift times through a Sport mode. Though it never approaches true sports-car-like precision, the big Bentley stays surprisingly firmly planted and level through tight corners. It also provides a nice balance between driver feedback and the quiet cosseting of a proper limousine.

Speaking of pampering, the Speed’s cabin coddles with both old-world charm and modern conveniences. In an era when the average mass-produced family sedan exits the assembly line in less than 24 hours, Bentley reportedly spends 150 hours on the Mulsanne interior alone, stitching together 14 complete hides in elegant color combinations like creamy Linen and rich Fireglow red. Handcrafted iPad workstations that fold down from the back of the front seats along with optional Wi-Fi connectivity turn the rear cabin into a rolling executive suite. There’s even a mini-fridge and set of custom crystal Champagne flutes to toast a job well done. And those are just a few of the 90 “standard” extras available on the Mulsanne Speed. Oh decisions, decisions …

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