On the technology front, the Mulsanne's touchscreen infotainment system is entirely new. Its 8-inch display screen finally accepts touch and swipe inputs, and is backed up by a solid-state drive with 60GB of media storage.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are factored into the interface, as is an in-car 4G LTE data connection.
Off the options list, the Mulsanne can be fitted with a pair of detachable 10-inch Android tablets mounted to the back of the front-seat headrests. The tablets are enabled with 4G and wireless connections, and come with 32GB of onboard expandable storage. Passengers can use them to streaming audio to the car's speakers; to browse the Web; or to set navigation destinations for the driver via Google maps.
The new Naim for Bentley audio system is out to melt faces. It's equipped with 18 speakers, 19 channels of output, and 2,200 watts of power. Bentley says it's one of the most powerful sound systems in production today.
Finally, the Mulsanne ups its safety quotient with blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. The headlights also offer adaptive shaping of the light pattern for urban, rural, and interstate driving--but that Euro-spec feature likely won't get clearance from the Feds for U.S. sale.
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On the spec sheet, the Mulsanne's changes are few. The standard car still comes with a 6.8-liter V-8 ("6.75 liters," in Bentley heritage-speak) with 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet. Coupled to an eight-speed automatic, the engine sends power to the rear wheels, and can push the Mulsanne to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, to a top speed of 184 mph. Fuel economy hasn't been confirmed by the EPA, but with cylinder deactivation, the Mulsanne can cruise in four-cylinder mode under light engine loads.
The Mulsanne Speed, introduced last year, tops out the range with 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque. Its 0-60 mph time is quoted at 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 190 mph. It wears dark-tinted metal trim and 21-inch wheels, along with Speed badgework.
All Mulsannes are said to benefit from revised suspension tuning, active engine mounts, and tires with an internal layer of noise baffling.
The Mulsanne's driving-mode selector now toggles from a "Bentley" standard driving mode, through the usual Sport and Comfort modes. A new Custom mode adapts transmission, throttle, and steering to the driver's individual tastes. The Mulsanne's standard air dampers lower the car for better aerodynamics at speed. As before, 20-inch wheels and 265/45 tires are standard, with 265/40-21s optional.
With its retuned suspension and long-wheelbase model, it's time to get reacquainted with the Mulsanne. We'll bring you the story on that first drive as soon as we can._______________________________________