You've just docked your cigarette boat in Miami after a successful deal off the Florida Keys and the two suitcases full of cash are already burning a hole in your pocket. What is one to do? Lucky for you, Miami is one of the select cities in America to boast a Bentley dealership—and once you're sitting in the rear cabin of one of the 25 Bentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase cars to be shipped to the United States, it takes less than 10 seconds to know this is exactly how you should be rolling.
The Mulsanne EWB is designed with the rear passengers in mind, with all 10 additional inches in length being to the benefit of the rear cabin. To say that sitting in one of the handcrafted leather seats is like flying first class is to insult the artisans whose painstaking attention to detail and more than 150 hours of individual work you are now experiencing. With 24 different hide color choices; 40 pieces of polished, handcrafted veneers; polished stainless steel detailing; and plush pile carpeting so soft you'll want to shed your kicks and rub your toes through it John McClane style, it's more accurate to say you're sitting in a piece of custom automotive art than in the back seat of a car.
Building on your growing awe, the Mulsanne EWB offers a few more perks that only a pinnacle luxury vehicle can. Pivoting electronic leg rests extend from their integrated housing in the base of the rear seats, offering a choice of positions from upright to relaxed seating. Electric curtains keep even the most motivated paparazzi at arm's length while the large sunroof allows natural light to stream in at your, or the driver's, command. A central console sporting USB ports, cupholders, a glass stowage area, and optional fold-out tables separate the two luxury seats, providing a personal space bubble of pure bliss.
The new infotainment system delivers 10.2-inch touch-screen-based detachable tablets that rise out of the back of the front seats. Running on the Android platform, these tablets have access to thousands of apps via the built-in vehicle Wi-Fi and can adjust the navigation on the front console. Running the Android OS, the tablets unfortunately lack the ability to interface with the front console's Apple CarPlay feature.
Should you grow tired of riding in luxury and want to take the wheel, you'll find a traditional 6.75L V-8 at your command, mated to ZF's sublime—and ubiquitous—eight-speed automatic transmission. Putting pedal to floor will take you from 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds, and you can continue to a top speed of 184 mph—impressive for a vehicle weighing in around 6,000 pounds. Being the stately luxury machine that it is, the feat is accomplished without much drama; credit the torquey, low-revving V-8 and long gearing here. Combine that effect with isolation-tank-level separation from the outside elements, and you find yourself at tremendous speeds in a hurry. On a few occasions, we questioned the wind noise while on the Autobahn, only to look down and find we were well into the triple digits.
Active engine mounts and suspension bushings in the all-new chassis, advanced foam architecture in the tires, and an air suspension system with Continuous Dampening Control (CDC) work in concert to reduce engine and road noise, creating the quiet ride Bentley owners have come to know and expect. The driver will hear the engine noise and the entire vehicle still gets the noise of the air rushing outside at speed, but rear passengers experience a comparably serene ride.
Like any modern car with "luxury" somewhere in its description, a rotary switch located next to the gearshift accesses the Drive Dynamics Control system, in this case offering three distinct standard modes, "Bentley," "Sport," and "Comfort." Each brings with it unique suspension and steering calibrations. A fourth custom mode exists, allowing the driver to tune the vehicle to his/her specific driving style. A bit disappointing are the circa-2004 VW-looking buttons on the front dash. There is no reason to ever see that font again, let alone in a luxury vehicle with a sticker price that could put a middle-class nuclear family's 2.3 children through college.
Whether you're behind the wheel or controlling your empire from the luxurious rear cabin, onlookers won't be able to look away from the clean lines and classic styling of the Bentley Mulsanne EWB when you roll up to an intersection. With its redesigned classic grille to its LED headlights and ridiculously orange-peel free paint job, this vehicle commands a road presence that is so iconic, it doesn't have to scream anything. It just silently is. For the elite, the Bentley Mulsanne cannot be beat for its level of luxury. For the power elite among them, the Bentley Mulsanne EWB redefines the concept of first class, offering a pinnacle luxury experience truly second to none.