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First drive: Bentley Continental GT Mulliner. Image by Richard Pardon.

First drive: Bentley Continental GT Mulliner
Plusher than plush and powered by the stonking V8 engine, we try out the ultra-luxury Conti Mulliner.

 



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Bentley Continental GT Mulliner

5 5 5 5 5

For those oh-so-discerning HNWIs who somehow think the fabulous Bentley Continental GT isn't quite palatial enough, this new Mulliner special should satisfy. It's grand tourer magnificence, squared.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Coupe V8
Pricing: GT V8 from 151,800, Mulliner tbc but likely to be c.215,000-225,000
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: active all-wheel drive, eight-speed ZF dual-clutch automatic
Body style: two-door prestige coupe GT
CO2 emissions: 260g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,175 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 23.9mpg
Top speed: 198mph
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Power: 550hp at 5,750rpm
Torque: 770Nm at 1,960-4,500rpm
Boot space: 358 litres

What's this?

A car that probably seems like the physical manifestation of 'gilding the lily', on the face of it. This is the Bentley Continental GT Mulliner, which is not just a Conti GT with the Mulliner Driving Specification (an 11,580 option) fitted to it... although it does have the MDS, because it's a Mulliner and a Mulliner should have the Mulliner Driving Specification equipped. But we're confusing the issue here; not to mention repeating 'Mulliner' far too many times than is strictly healthy. In essence, what we're trying to say is that this is a standalone model, rather than 'merely' a fully loaded Conti GT special. Bentley calls this specific version of the Continental the 'pinnacle of luxury', offering only the most opulent interior and exterior finishing that Mulliner can provide.

More broadly speaking, this represents the first car in the Collections strand of Mulliner's three main lines of business. Grandiose versions of production models will come under the Collections banner, while Mulliner Classic will do restorations and continuations of legendary Bentleys, like the run of twelve 1929 Blowers which are planned. Finally, there's Mulliner Coachbuilt, which'll construct highly prized collectibles of extremely limited production runs - an example of which is the eye-catching Bacalar.

So what does the Mulliner epithet mean to the Continental GT purchaser? Well, as per other models, you can choose to have your Mulliner with either the 4.0-litre V8 engine or Bentley's signature W12 motor, and as either a Coupe, as tested here (said Conti GT Mulliner is reputedly, at the time of writing, the only car of its type in the world), or the 'GTC' Convertible. Prices aren't yet confirmed but there's a bundle of extra, optional kit - like the MDS - fitted to the car, meaning we've been told that in the region of 215,000 to 225,000 wouldn't be out of the question, while there are various styling features inside and out which differentiate it from the Conti, er... 'norm'.

Specifically, on the exterior there's the 'Double Diamond' Matrix grille in the nose, extra splashes of chrome down the sills and in the wing-mounted breather vents of the car, more diamond-effect trim in said vents, and 'Mulliner' wording on a discreet side spar just aft of the front wheels. The mirror caps are finished in Satin Silver and they pack puddle lights which beam 'Mulliner' onto the ground near the car at night, while you should pay particular attention to the gorgeous 22-inch Mulliner wheels - which are not only a bespoke design for this model but also have a function which keeps the 'B' logo in their centres permanently upright. Please, please, please, nobody mention 'Those Other People Down At Goodwood', here.

Moving inside, as you open the solid, weighty doors of the Continental GT, you're greeted by illuminated 'Mulliner' door sills and a three-colour split for the hide which showcases precisely what Mulliner can do for those folk with expansive wallets. In this particular pioneering example, a Linen and Beluga main contrast is offset by a tan-hued design line which sweeps around the door cards and over the top lip of the dashboard. The MDS brings in 'diamond-in-diamond' needlework which, with 712 stitches in each and every diamond you can espy, results in fully 400,000 stitches throughout the cabin, all rendered with more than 115 metres of thread. This exquisite attention to detail continues with a diamond-milled finish for the main metal surfaces up front, a look replicated in the Conti's digital instrument cluster with the dials displaying the same graphical theme. Grand Piano veneer and a Breitling clock on the dash, again with a diamond-look face to tie it in with the rest of the passenger compartment, is complemented by embroidered 'Mulliner' logos on the seats, indented leather for the roof-lining (it's smooth hide if the fixed glass panel is specified), floor mats with micro-piping and chrome 'B' retention caps, and then a silhouette of your chosen body style of Conti with the 'Mulliner' legend on the passenger-side dashboard.

On top of this and the aforementioned MDS, which is getting on for twelve grand's worth of kit, all of Front Seat Comfort Specification, City Specification, Mood Lighting Specification and the Bentley Rotating Display are fitted as standard to the Continental GT Mulliner. These four items alone cost, respectively, 4,005, 4,020, 1,510 and 4,770, so you're looking at 25,885-worth of stuff on the Mulliner already. Question is, do you need to spend significantly more cash on making the pretty-damned-fabulous Conti GT any more extravagant?

How does it drive?

Mechanically, a Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe is no different to a regular Conti GT with the 4.0-litre V8 engine. However, the 4,045 Bentley Dynamic Ride package, which is the 48-volt-powered anti-roll system, is also bundled in to the Mulliner in various world markets, and this is also our first time trying the current-gen Conti GT with the smaller engine in the Coupe's body.

Therefore, we can keep this short: one, the Mulliner drives every bit as sweetly as any other Conti GT or GTC you could care to mention; and two, the V8 engine is definitely the one to go for in the 'new' Continental. The lighter engine, which trims around 100kg from the front of the car, doesn't exactly turn the two-tonne Conti into a 911-challenging sports car, all deftness and springbok-like agility. But as big, luxuriant grand tourers go, you won't find any rival machine with a better chassis than the Bentley. Various facets of its main controls, such as its fantastic multimode steering and three-stage damping, allow it to belie its sheer mass and size on challenging roads, where it proves to be a genuinely engaging and enjoyable vehicle. And yet, at times when you're not testing it like... like... well, like a road-tester, it will lope along with the effortless, ethereal grace that is the first prerequisite of continent-crossers like this.

Better yet, the Coupe has a decent boot slung out the back so it's a practical machine for, y'know, actually grand touring in, and the V8 engine also monsters the W12 for acoustic appeal. With a deep, throaty rumble emanating from the quad exhausts at the back of the car, if you want the Continental GT to sound truly angry, then it will as it spins round eagerly to its redline. And if you want it to murmur along in the epitome of refined discretion, then it can do that with equal aplomb too. In truth, we're not really sure there's a chink of weakness in the dynamic armour of a V8-powered Continental GT.

Verdict

Bentley touts this thing as the 'Ultimate Luxury Grand Tourer' but we'd say the regular Conti GT is already laying a pretty strong claim to that particular title. So is the Mulliner surplus to requirements? Plainly, if you are attempting to rationalise any opposition to it by saying the 63,000 or so uptick in the asking price is not worth it for some styling accoutrements and a few equipment bundles, then you're not thinking anything like a Bentley customer. The fact of the matter is that, while you can specify the option packs on a 'regular' Conti GT, you can't have the various Mulliner-specific bits on the car added to other variants; things like the radiator grille, the self-centring wheel hubs in the beautiful 22s, and all the Mulliner showmanship for the illumination and emblems, for example. You can discount these as gewgaws, if you so must, but potential owners will see such things as the insignia of supreme exclusivity. And frankly, the Continental Mulliner in Coupe form and fitted with the V8 is about as perfect as perfect can be when it comes to sporting GTs. Even at an estimated 225,000, exalted automotive craftsmanship like this feels like something of a bargain.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 26 Oct 2020









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2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.

2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner V8 Coupe. Image by Richard Pardon.








 

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