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
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970