It’s an imperfect analogy, but until the late 1930s, you could buy a new Cadillac with three possible engine selections, depending on the model: You could start with a V-8, which Cadillac did a lot to pioneer as an engine configuration when General Motors was first acquiring Northstar; or you could get a car with a V-12, or even a V-16, depending on what your wallet could handle. Amid the megabuck bustle of Monterey Car Week, Bentley Mulliner chose the world’s most extravagant automotive event to launch its new Flying Spur Mulliner luxury sedan. Bentley Mulliner, for the uninitiated, is the commissioning division for bespoke high luxury at Bentley, in addition to being the oldest coachbuilding concern in the United Kingdom. As we’ll see, the Flying Spur Mulliner is the first-ever electrified automobile to bear a Mulliner nameplate. Which, naturally, it does.
You can select this ultra-premium luxury – and performance – sedan with one of three powertrains, two of them comparatively conventional. A twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 urges the Flying Spur Mulliner to 60 MPH in four seconds flat with a claimed top speed of 198 MPH. Step up to the twin-turbocharged W-12, with three banks of four cylinders and 6.0 liters of displacement, and the top end jumps to a claimed 207 MPH. What’s really new here, though, is a hybrid powertrain centered around a new-generation V-6, whose output is described as 4.1 seconds for the 0-60 sprint and maximum velocity broadcast at 177 MPH. Gotta admit, those 22-inch alloy wheels – with self-leveling center caps that keep the Mulliner logo upright while the wheel’s spinning – get the all-important stance just right, which isn’t always the case in the this class. And being a Bentley, the Flying Spur Mulliner’s got luxury: Each one of the embroidered diamonds in its upholstery has exactly 712 perfectly aligned stitches, and power-operated Mulliner veneer picnic tables, set into the front seat back cushions, are standard.