The Mulsanne, Bentley’s flagship, is set to become even more lavish with an additional selection of options and features which will, presumably, allow it to compete more closely with the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Currently, the Mulsanne sits within the super-luxury segment somewhere between Rolls-Royce’s Ghost and Phantom, but the new range of options will begin to make the Mulsanne more of a substitute for a Phantom than a stepping-stone toward it.
My favourite addition to the Bentley, available with the other changes from 2014, is rather unusual: curtains. I know that such an addition may seem small, but they do distinguish a car like the Mulsanne from comparatively impoverished vehicles such as the BMW 7-series and Audi A8. These German cars use electric sun-blinds to shelter their occupants from the outside world, but curtains! Horse drawn carriages have curtains, not cheap (<£100,000) German cars. Houses have curtains too, and for the £225,000 cost of a Bentley Mulsanne one could buy a house; but the curtains in such a house wouldn’t open and close at the touch of button, so purchase the Bentley instead.
Aside from window hangings, the technology side of the Mulsanne has been upgraded to feature Wi-Fi integration. Many cars are starting to incorporate this technology nowadays, but I suspect few passengers will find it as useful as the eternally connected business executives that Bentley targets. To accompany the Wi-Fi capability, new picnic tables are also available. I am aware that picnic tables and Wi-Fi are not usually complimentary, but these hide-trimmed bureaus feature specially designed iPad compartments which fold out if writing by hand becomes too archaic. This is the best incorporation of iPads into a vehicle that I’ve come across (with the other offerings in the XJ Ultimate Edition and some luxury off-road cars) as they can be completely concealed when not in use.
Apart from some new storage compartments and colour selections, the final change offered on 2014’s Bentley Mulsanne is aimed at those who wish to be chauffeur driven. Targeting an even wealthier or busier set of customers that have drivers, the comfort specification gives rear occupants a new set of headrests with folding wings for additional comfort. They’re also larger than the standard headrests to accommodate ‘an even greater range of passenger statures’. Although headrests may seem like a small detail, most cars only have them to protect passengers if a car is hit from behind, as opposed to providing somewhere to rest one’s head. Footrests in the rear of the car are also added along with a set of throw cushions (purpose unknown) filled with duck down, adding to the veritable farmyard of cattle and sheep from which the rest of the Bentley is made.
Despite these comfort additions, when customers are looking for a car to be chauffeured in, few will deviate from the Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase. The opulence and comfort offered by the Mulsanne is very close to that of the Phantom, and it’s, arguably, the better looking of the two. Aside from the prestige offered by the Rolls-Royce badge, the lack of an Extended Wheelbase variant of the Mulsanne may be to blame. It’s not like room in the rear of the Bentley is lacking, but the lack of a clear divide between a version of the Mulsanne to drive or be driven in may put some customers off of the Bentley. This confusion isn’t helped by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur being yet another alternative, but hopefully the extra amenities now added to the Mulsanne will make things a little clearer.