out of 10

If your idea of luxury motoring is driving one of the biggest and most powerful sedans on the market, then the 2012 Bentley Mulsanne should be near the top of your must-see list. The Mulsanne is unashamedly big, and rightly so considering it is the flagship of the luxurious Bentley marque and comes with a pricetag starting at $290,000.

Through its elegant styling and hand-crafted nature, the Bentley Mulsanne pays a great deal of respect to the past, though at the same time the big sedan is a thoroughly modern luxury car able to hold its head up high against its only clear rival, the just as over-the-top Rolls-Royce Phantom.

To a lesser extent the $379,050 Maybach 57 and its long-wheelbase variants are also rivals to the Mulsanne but given the uncertainty of Maybach’s future and the lack of brand cachet--a vital component for success in this segment--we stand by our assertion that the Phantom is the only real threat to the Mulsanne.

So how big is this mega-Bentley? Its overall length is 219 inches, which results in a cavernous cabin for the driver and his or her four passengers. At the same time, the vehicle’s styling is slightly understated. It isn't flashy--it's just big, and exceptionally well-crafted. Let’s just say that you will be noticed in the Mulsanne, but not for the wrong reasons.

There’s only one engine in the lineup; a twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V-8 with a heady 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent strictly to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic.

In true Bentley fashion the Mulsanne’s powerplant delivers all of its torque from as little as 1,750 rpm, meaning that just a mere tap of the accelerator provides that characteristic deep, muffled V-8 burble and effortless acceleration Bentley’s are renowned for.

While the engine lineup is fairly straight forward, picking a final design for the exterior and cabin is somewhat more complex. There are 114 paint colors in the range that include everything from unusual heritage colors, special satin and pearlescent finishes and duo-tone combinations.

Customers can also select from an extensive range of premium quality veneers for the cabin: unbleached for a natural appearance, and two marquetry options, picture frame and contemporary crossbanding. True to the customized theme, customers may also select from a virtually unlimited palette of leather hides, including 24 standard colors, of which three are new for Bentley.

For a full review on the 2012 Bentley Mulsanne, including a close look at all its safety features and specs, head over to our sister site The Car Connection.

UPDATEBentley Honors The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee With Special Mulsanne

Only 60 of the Bentley Mulsanne Diamond Jubilee Editions will be built. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Bentley Mulsanne Executive Interior Choices Announced

Bentley Mulsanne buyers can now choose between two Executive Interiors, including the Theater specification and the iPad specification. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Bentley Mulsanne Mega-Gallery

Bentley has released a stunning gallery of its flagship Mulsanne and here's a condensed version with all the best highlights. Read Update

Specs: Select a Trim

Style MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy

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