A few weeks ago, on an abandoned airstrip outside of Miami, I was handed the keys of the new Bentley Mulsanne Speed with only one direction: floor it. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show earlier this fall, this special edition of Bentley’s flagship Mulsanne line features performance and handling updates and upgrades including a re-engineered 6 ¾-Litre twin-turbo V8 engine, recalibrated gearbox and sport suspension that injects vigor into the Mulsanne’s hulking 17-foot-long, 5919-pound body.
With a couple miles of open runway ahead of me, the Mulsanne Speed accelerates like a car half its weight. Before you know it, you’re traveling over 150 mph, conditions that would normally have me tense and gripping the wheel. Instead, I had time to ponder the exquisite and spacious leather interior (that takes 150 hours to construct), trademark knurling on the tiniest metal detail and a backseat seemingly big enough to fit a marching band—complete with WIFI hotspot, twin bespoke iPads and frosted glass bottle coolers and champagne flutes. It’s a strange sensation to go this fast in what’s meant to be a luxury liner, especially on the ground; I imagine this is what the Concorde must have felt like.
A limo capable of 190 mph may have limited applications (evasive maneuvers for diplomats or a chauffeur’s racing league, perhaps?) but the Mulsanne Speed offers the best of what Bentley is capable of: ultra luxury and unmatched low-end torque. Starting at $335,600, your chauffeur will thank you, and on his days off, you can put on some slicks and take it to the local drag strip—although I’d suggest leaving the pink slip at home.