2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed
If you’re an automotive enthusiast, I know you are familiar with the concept of speed. If you’re a fan of sporting British cars, you may even be familiar with Bentley’s ultra-luxurious version of speed. Well, that clash of posh and performance happens in a way like never before in this Bentley Mulsanne Speed.
You might think that being a staid British brand with oodles of history, Bentley would refuse to change with the times, and you’d be very wrong. This 2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed proves that they are moving the brand forward at a rapid pace, yet without leaving traditions behind.
This is of course, the bespoke Bentley chassis from Crewe that debuted for 2011, and shares little with parent Volkswagen unlike the rest of their lineup.
It’s very impressive what they were able to do with it. Sure it feels big, but not overly heavy, certainly not bloated, considering it is pushing 6,000 lbs. It’s a lot of mass, but with enough modern tweaking to not feel like a tank.
For this Speed version of the Mulsanne, the chassis’ air suspension gets a stiffer setting, as well as quicker steering. A custom mode allows for individual tailoring of all settings, as most Bentley customers are used to, I’m sure.
As for under the bonnet, the 530-horsepower coming from its 6.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is indeed impressive, but how about a “commoner kicking” 811 lb-ft. of torque? Output is bumped 22-horsepower and 59 lb-ft. due to reworking of the heads and a requisite software update.
An 8-speed automatic transmission with wheel mounted shift paddles is standard, but unlike Continental-based Bentleys this one is rear drive only.
The nostalgia theme plays a little heavier inside, where you can feel Bentley history oozing out of its hectares of well-treated calf skin and fine woodwork.
There remains plenty of traditional elements like the organ stops for the vents and an analog clock, but the overall ambience is more modern. And there’s certainly all of the latest tech gadgets like hideaway nav. screen, Naim for Bentley 2,200-watt audio, and a somewhat cumbersome central controller.
And in the back there’s even dual iPads with keyboards, television screens, and a refrigerated bottle cooler with frosted glass power door and yes, even Crystal champagne flutes.
The front center console is a bit control heavy, and the start button blends in a little too much. But it gives things a workman-like feel for that chauffer so he can do his business. Some of the controls and gauges are not obvious, but it helps if you enjoy bangers and mash or follow the goings-on in Parliament.
Front seats have great comfort, but extreme comfort is just the tip of the crystal-plated iceberg of what you’ll find in the rear.
But as nice as it is back there, this is still a car you should want to drive, and will very much enjoy doing so; as it has a sporting feel that you won’t find in a Rolls-Royce. There’s effortless streams of engine power, with shifts that are as smooth as the silk of a Burberry scarf.
Though the electronic shifter carries on the British tradition of dawdling between shifts as it’s in no particular hurry to deliver a gear when shuffling between drive and reverse.
Things are quiet inside, but not with bank vault levels of isolation, as some nice if raspy exhaust note seeps in occasionally.
As for standing out from the common Mulsanne’s seamless metal work and exquisite touches outside; the Sport brings dark finishes to the grilles, headlights, and tail lights. As well as unique 21-inch wheels and rifled exhaust tips similar to the rest of Bentley’s Speed lineup.
How the Speed translates at the track, those big turbos, haul this hulk to 60 in under 5.0-seconds. Through the cones, initially it feels almost athletic; but just as quickly as you get through the first few gates, the weight and heavy steering catch up with you, reminding you how big this car really is.
Clearly made for people who demand the best, and are willing to pay for it; the Mulsanne Speed starts at $341,325. Pricey options pushed our car over 400K.
Let’s give Bentley a lot of credit, they’ve been able to inject modern elements into the 2016 Mulsanne Speed without losing any of their brand’s character. In fact, we think recent Bentley’s are more in line with their sporting tradition than ever. The few who get to experience it daily are the lucky ones indeed.
- Engine: 6.8 liter
- Horsepower: 530
- Torque: 811 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined