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Cars September, 19 2013

A Brief and Unorthodox Review of the Bentley Mulsanne

I have spent the last two months with the Bentley Mulsanne traveling across two different continents, both driving the car and being driven in this vehicle. The two were equally enjoyable experiences.

My driver in NYC, Tony, put it best: “When you drive a Bentley you are handed a certain responsibility.” It’s almost a necessary credo when driving or being driven in a vehicle of this stature to be polite at all times. When in the Mulsanne, it doesn’t matter if it’s a certifiably insane person wanting to cross the street or a mindless bobo-hipster-tosser in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin shaking his head while you drive by. One has a responsibility to be friendly at all times. Anything else would turn you into an instant a-hole.

Social etiquette aside, you ask what it’s like to drive the thing and what’s it like to be driven.

I best judge a vehicle’s curbside appeal by other peoples’ reactions to the car in the outside world. When driving the Mulsanne through the city of Berlin, these reactions change from borough to borough.

Usually the process for someone who encounters a vehicle out of the ordinary is:

1. Look at vehicle.
2. Look who is driving.
3. Look at license plate.
4. Say something to themselves or the person they are with.

When people encounter the Mulsanne the reaction is as follows:

First, they are stunned. Is someone famous driving it?

Then they look at the license plate (in my case British manufacturer plates) and look back at the driver. They’re speechless. You can really see how you are crushing peoples’ character with this thing. Whatever they might have thought they had going on… it’s over now. It’s the feeling of true power via product.

Actual driving:

On the Autobahn, I reached 270 km/h no problem, although I felt a little wobble. Perhaps because the car weighs more than two tons. I’m not sure.

Being driven:

Being driven around NYC in a two-tone light blue Bentley allows you to do the type of things people who aren’t being driven around town in a two-tone light blue Bentley don’t get to do. For example, on one random day, Tony the driver picks me up at the Cooper Square Standard Hotel with the usual “good morning sir, what are we doing today?” I tell him we need a helicopter. “East Side or West Side,” he asks. I text BC and he recommends West. A short ride later we are standing at a heliport trying to explain to the flight deck operators that we need a chopper. We also tell them that we have no money. They look at me, they look at Tony, they look at the car and then they react like shy school children, saying they only operate the pad and don’t own any actual aircraft. They recommend we go to the South Side heliport. Enroute to the South Side, I text BC again and ask him if he has any heli contacts. He tells me to text Kristoff of Eurocopter USA. I do. No response.

We show up at the South Side heliport. There are tons of tourists and a tough lady running security. Tony tells me that he’s going to talk to her. I’m in the backseat with the privacy curtains drawn. Listening, all I hear is Tony say “Hi, we have a Christopher Kippenberger VIP Bentley film team.” Then, the manager comes and Tony repeats the same sentence.

“Yes we have a VIP room,” says the manager.

“Excellent,” Tony says. They open the door and usher me past the tourists and lead me to the VIP room. Standing inside the room is a single man wearing a blue Eurocopter shirt.

“Hi, I’m Kristoff. Do you want to buy a helicopter?”

“Potentially,” I answer, “Can I test fly one?”

“Sorry all our pilots are out of town because of a training season,” says Kristoff.

Bummer. He tells me he needs to go uptown to the 34th Street heliport. I offer him a ride, telling him I have the Bentley and Tony outside. He accepts. As we are driving along FDR we talk about how useless ad agencies are and how most of the in-house teams suck too, because so many people lack passion. I tell him a little about my car porn films and how I work. I tell him that we are shooting a spot with the Bentley and that it is a hybrid model. I tell him how we spend time with the product and shoot on the fly whenever an interesting idea pops up. He seems to like this model and offers us the opportunity to shoot at the chopper depot in New Jersey that night, if that’s OK for me. I ask Tony, “Tony, can we go to New Jersey tonight and shoot these choppers?”

Tony replies, “Yes sir.”

I tell Kristoff, “Tony says it’s OK.”

The takeaway:

The Bentley Mulsanne is a tool which largely relies on the handyman who uses it. I imagine because of my displacement and general unorthodox ways I could write an entire book about my time with this car, but I’ll save that for later. And I’m assuming 99% of Mulsanne owners will have an entirely different experience.

Photography: Moritz Bremer / Highsnobiety.com

This car review was written by film producer, car enthusiast, and bike fan Christopher Kippenberger. Known for his premium, yet very different take on auto videography, Kippenberger took the impressive new Bentley Mulsanne for a quick spin around Berlin and New York City for Highsnobiety.com. You can follow Kippenberger on Instagram here.

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