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First Test: 2011 Bentley Mulsanne


I was recently told, "The Germans build the best British luxury cars," by our editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie, who's Australian. And you know what? It's hard to argue with him. Just check out BMW's take on Rolls-Royce: the awe-inspiring Phantom. Or this particular palace of sumptuous hedonism, the brand-new Bentley Mulsanne. The first proper Bentley since the 1930 8-Liter, the BENTLEY MULSANNE is rolling decadence, an automotive homage to Rule Britannia. The car's level of opulence and intemperance is borderline obscene. We totally love it.

Still, try as they might -- and they try (each BENTLEY MULSANNE is made with skins from 17 bulls, and they all smell glorious, thanks to a pre-1955 leather-tanning process) -- the Germans are still, well, German. Meaning they're anal-retentively compelled to build machines with monumental metrics. Would a Bismarck crack be crossing the line? What about Big Bertha?

 Back in the day, high-end British cars were never about numbers. Since nearly forever, Rolls-Royce/Bentley (remember, they were the same company for almost 70 years) did not publish power figures. The car in question's gumption was listed as only "adequate," whether that was the case or not. Hell, Bristol still won't let journalists within 100 yards of its cars.

This new Mulsanne, however, needs to be described by its superlative numbers. For instance, its 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-8 produces 752 pound-feet of torque at 1500 rpm. With the exception of a few heavy-duty diesels, the only production car that offers more twist is the 16-cylinder, quad-turbo Veyron. Not coincidentally, Dr. Franz-Joseph Paefgen is both the CEO of Bentley and the president of Bugatti.

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