For the first time since the nameplate was reintroduced as a 2011 model, Bentley will offer the Mulsanne in two lengths. The Extended Wheelbase adds an additional 10 inches to the rear passenger compartment over the standard and Speed models, allowing Bentley to fit a pair of reclining rear seats and a large sunroof into its flagship model. Naturally, this is the Bentley model aimed at buyers who would rather not drive themselves, preferring to be chauffeured. That doesn't describe the average Autoblogger, but for those who do fall into that camp, here's what you should know.
It's coming to America.
Although the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase will be aimed mostly at the Asian market, it will come to the United States. Most Americans would rather drive than be driven, which means the long-wheelbase model will be imported from England in very small numbers and quite likely as a limited edition.
For such a simple idea, the execution is complicated.
Every Bentley Mulsanne is hand-assembled by a skilled team of craftsmen. That doesn't change for the Extended Wheelbase, but it does add some new complexity to the build process. All three Mulsanne models roll down the same line in Crewe, meaning workers have to be trained in the differences of each model. This is true at most plants, but the assembly of a Mulsanne is a rather different process than a Mustang.
In addition to the extra length, all Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase models get optional folding tables for both rear passengers. These are beautiful works of art, and the engineering behind them is almost unbelievable. Each tray table is made from 600 individual parts. Yes, you read that correctly. We're not sure how Bentley managed to over-engineer these baubles so thoroughly, but we suggest that you treat the metal and leather creations with respect.
But it's also very comfortable.
Those tray tables can tilt at about a 30-degree angle, which is perfect for displaying content on an electronic device. The center console that holds them when not in use is unique to the Extended Wheelbase, and it's covered in the same veneer and leather that the buyer selects for the rest of the car. USB ports, pen holders, and cup holders designed specifically to hold two of the three crystal flutes in the fridge between the seats, and a glass-covered bin make the console as useful as possible.
While not working, passengers can deploy a leather-covered footrest for either seat, like in the first-class cabin of an airplane. A large sunroof overhead lets some light in, or if you prefer a more cave-like experience, you can close that and the standard electric curtains over the rear windows.
You may as well skip the seatback tables.
As with all Mulsanne models, there are optional tray tables for the backs of the front seats. Skip them. You can't reach them from the back seat of an Extended Wheelbase model anyway, and they're superfluous when the console-mounted tables are deployed.
Here's where things get kinky.
There's an easy way to tell which 2017 Mulsanne you're looking at from the exterior, in case the extra length doesn't give it away. The rear doors of the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase have a downward-pointing character line that's supposed to visually extend the car's limo-like shape. Considering how much time and effort Bentley puts into smoothing out every line on the car's body, this small kink stands out. It's an effective, though unnecessary, visual calling card that separates the driver's car from the passenger's car.
There's no additional performance.
Surprisingly, the base curb weight of the Extended Wheelbase will be the same as other Mulsanne models. As such, there's no need for additional gumption from the 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, and so it offers the same 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque as the short-wheelbase car. Considering that grunt means the machine is capable of hitting 184 miles per hour, it's plenty.
However you want it, Bentley will build it.
The stately Extended Wheelbase is just as customizable as other Mulsanne models. It's available with 24 different colors for the leather, and there are 13 choices of veneer. If you want to ride in a Superman-spec car, you can choose a two-tone blue and red interior. Packers fan? Green and yellow, of course. Now, we don't recommend such fanciful optioning, but if you've got the money to spend and have unique tastes, the crew from Crewe is happy to deliver just what you're looking for.
This is just the beginning.
But what if you want something truly out of the ordinary? Again, it's not a problem. Bentley's Mulliner division is capable of creating just about anything you can dream up for your personal Mulsanne. If you don't like champagne, Mulliner will custom build you a console designed for scotch. If you want each seat embroidered with the name of its intended occupant, you'll just have to pick a color for the thread.
So extensive are Mulliner's capabilities, Bentley briefly showed us an extended Extended Wheelbase Mulsanne with four captain's chairs in the back, two of them facing rearward. This vehicle was made as a one-off for a specific customer, but if you too would like an extra 39 inches of rear legroom, all you have to do is ask. And be willing to pay.