Its being a long time since some ultra luxury car has been compared on Indiandrives. The last time, it was done when the new Audi A8L set its foot in India. However as of now, it’s a different story here. Today, we have got the mighty Rolls Royce Ghost in India and the Bentley Mulsanne in India face to face to determine the ultimate luxury car here. Both these cars are brought by people who have lots of wealth to spare plus also ones who demand exclusivity from the run of the mill people buying the Mercedes S-class, BMW 7 series or even the Audi A8. Well, Maybachs don’t count since there are rarely more than 2 Maybachs sold in a year while for the Rolls Royce and Bentley cars, its more in the regions of 5-8. So, they are worth mentioning here. While at the Surat Auto Show, we distinctly remember the patron at the Bentley stall telling us that Bentley cars are brought in more by the enthusiasts who prefer to drive rather than being driven. One more logic that was driven into was that whenever a patron driving up in a Bentley reaches a prestigious hotel, then the valet always ensures that the driver’s door is opened first instead of the passenger seat in which most of the Rolls Royce customers seat their derriere. So, now, its luxury versus luxury. Which one emerges victorious, to find out more, read on.
In the looks department, both are bricks with a lower center of gravity attached to them. Both are almost equals and a few changes here and there would actually make one look like the other. Infact, we think that the Bentley has more character than the Rolls. So much so that its twin barreled head lamps with their all LED configuration and the day time running pilot lamps to the right look like they are all American muscle. Did we forget to tell you that these cars are British in origin? One look at the grille of the Bentley Mulsanne in India and you would believe that this is a Jaguar. Yes, the very rectangular grille found in Jaguars is present in this car. Bentley are currently managed and owned by the Volkswagen Group. So its not Britain vs Britain as also Germany vs Germany. Germany vs Germany because even Rolls Royce is owned by a German and that is BMW. However needless to say, the Rolls Royce has maintained its British character whereas the Bentley hasn’t. It has turned more American as also German in its approach to the car market. The Rolls Royce Ghost in India looks more like an old world car with some modern cues embedded in it. Modern as in the day time running LEDs. The oodles of chrome on the grille however jolt one back into reality saying that this is an old design car. Both the cars come standard with 19 inch wheels which are upgradeable to 20 inchers. The alloys on the Bentley look better than the ones on the Rolls Royce. From the side profile, its pretty much the same and both the cars have coupe like slanting rooflines. The rear in the meanwhile is replete with full LED lights for both these cars from which the one in the Bentley feels more modern.
It’s the Bentley which won a unanimous decision out here on the styling front. The Rolls Royce Ghost wasn’t even considered as anywhere close to the Bentley.
Starting from the doors, the difference in the interiors of the cars are evident. The Bentley’s door open in the traditional way while the Rolls Royce Ghost in India employs the suicide doors technique. This means that even though ingress in both the cars is very easy, one has to close the doors on the Rolls Royce via an electric switch near the top of the roof from inside. One thing is common in both the cars and that is first rate interiors. Even the ones from their parent company’s flagship namely Volkswagen and BMW, don’t have such beautiful and lavish interiors. The trim on the interiors of the Bentley Mulsanne in India more like the ones found in high end Porsche and Ferrari cars. Everything is hand made in both the cars right upto the cup holders to the bull hide leather which wraps up the entire upholstery of the Bentley. The rich walnut beige color of the interiors mean that they wouldn’t be spoilt easily. There are too many electronic gizmos to play around with, but like the ones found in the BMW 7 series or the Audi A8, these are all highly functional and can be used on a day to day basis. Even the flooring in the Bentley is built by the same leather which adorns the upholstery. Laptop tables flip out from the backrest of the front seats and they even double up as dinner tables. The best part is that the pedals also are shaped in the design of the flying B logo. Two large and clearly legible instrument clusters make their presence felt in this cabin along with a multi information display in the middle, typical Volkswagen style. The steering wheel is also wrapped in the same leather coating and features multi functions. Pull out the cup holders and they have a chunky feeling and even in the not so obvious to touch areas, the same material is used. Now you know where all the money that you are being charged went into. As for space, there is no dearth of it in the front or back seats. Cut to the Rolls Royce then and though everything used is of the highest quality that you would ever find, the Rolls cabin doesn’t feel as special as the one in the Bentley. More of the dark wood used for the central console detracts one from the feeling of luxury, especially so, after one has shifted from the cabin of the Bentley. There are many gizmos like in the Bentley to play around with and everything here has been also hand made. However the meter dials of the Rolls are truly retro and even after completing more than 50 years in making these type of cars, Rolls Royce persist in not giving the Ghost with a tachometer and still make do with a power reserve gauge. The Ghost, belying its 75 cm advantage over the overall length of the Bentley doesn’t offer anymore significant space.
Both the cars are said to be 4 seaters however squeezing in a 5th passenger wouldn’t be a problem in either. Well, all said and done, a person buying this category of vehicle would obviously have 3-4 back up cars and there wouldn’t be any need to stuff in people in this car. Also the boot is more of less same for both the cars and both the cars here feature an electrically opening boot.
Both the cabins are hard to fault however if you are a fan of retro stuff, then look no further than the Rolls Royce however if you are more to the modern side, then the Bentley is the one to go for. That said, whichever interiors you choose, you wouldn’t regret it.
Handling and ride quality
For these class of vehicles, the ride quality is the single factor why these cars are preferred. Both the cars display exemplary ride quality and there is hardly any choice or disparity here. The Rolls Royce however when revved hard enough filters some sound inside the cabin but the Bentley for that part is utter silent. Rev her hard enough and she still wouldn’t emit a faint burble of the V8 muscle. That’s pretty much surprising for a car which is said to be a driver’s car. The ride quality is velvety for both however the undulations or irregularities make their presence felt a bit more in the Rolls. The Rolls runs on BMW’s typical run flats and hence undulations are filtered into the cabin as the sidewalls of the tyres don’t have much surface to absorb the bumps. Ride quality dispatched, it’s now the turn of the handling part. True to its driver’s car tag, the Bentley Mulsanne in India has got a communicative steering wheel. It turns in with ease however it is no better than a Jaguar while going around a corner. The body roll for such a long car is well contained and the car is also quick to change directions without upsetting or throwing up the contents in the stomach of the rear seat passengers. The Rolls Royce however is a patch on the BMW pedigree with its steering wheel feeling numb and lifeless. It also doesn’t feel as meaty to hold as the one in the Mulsanne. The handling in turn is docile and not confidence inspiring. Not that many owners or even chauffeurs would hardly edge past the 40 kmph mark while taking a turn and at these speeds, the Ghost is a more than willing handler but up the speeds and try taking a turn, the Ghost would disappoint. The Ghost has got a similar looking dead pedal as also accelerator pedal.
The Bentley once again outclasses the Rolls Royce with its sublime ride quality and willing handling. However it disappoints on the NVH level and that is only if its catering to a owner driver. If its for the chauffer driven, then its ultimate bliss with no sound filtering into the cabin.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The engines of this cars are also different as their characters. The Bentley Mulsanne in India features a 6.75 liters twin turbo engine which has got long pushrods having one cylinder with twin operating valves. At the apex of the V, there is one camshaft. There is cylinder deactivation as also a cam phaser. Bentley had this understanding that most of the times, a customer wouldn’t even be using a quarter of the power and hence the cylinder deactivation comes into picture. This in turn reduces the capacity of the engine to a 4 valve one. The Bentley Mulsanne’s engine produces 510 bhp of power at 4200 rpm while the torque generated is similar to what the Buggati Veyron produces at 1020 Nm. This torque is available from as low as 1750 rpm. This engine is mated to an 8 speed ZF transmission. For the Rolls Royce Ghost in India, there is the a V12 engine which displaces 6.6 liters and is fitted with 48 valves 4 camshafts and also BMW’s variable valve timing or VANOS system. There is also direct fuel injection and also the twin turbochargers for company. Like in the Bentley, even Rolls Royce uses an eight speed ZF transmission system. On papers, however it’s the Rolls Royce which surges ahead with its 568 Bhp of power delivered at a high 5250 rpm coupled with the 780 Nm of torque from as low as 1500 rpm.
However figures don’t paint the actual picture and in the real world situation, the Bentley is the easier one to drive due to its torque figures being about 300 Nm more than what the Rolls Royce produces. The Ghost covers the 0-100 kmph time in 4.9 seconds whereas the Mulsanne covers the same distance in 3 seconds later. This can be attributed to the Mulsanne having more weight to carry around than the Rolls. However the Mulsanne claws back its capacity and torque advantage by displaying a higher top speed of 300 kmph compared to the 250 kmph restricted speed of the Ghost. However the top speed difference would hardly be perceptible and is more for academic reasons or for bragging rights. In India, we hardly get to travel at such speeds.
Both the cars display amazing stopping powers and are assisted by various electronic aids. The Rolls also has got brake energy regeneration and is also guided by BMW’s EfficientDynamics principles. The Bentley is said to be 15 more efficient in its operations than its outgoing model, the Arnage. As for safety, the extra long hood plus the extra strong fortified walls of these “palace on wheels” cars is primary. As many as 12 airbags abound in the cabin of both and so any question of safety should be kept to yourselves. No one asks for the fuel efficiency of a Bentley or Rolls Royce but this is India afterall and the “kitna deti hain?” question does arise. To this question, the answer is that the Rolls Royce returns an overall mileage figure of 6.3 kmpl compared with the 6.7 kmpl of the Bentley. Both are petrol engines and hence the cost of running both would be significantly on the higher side of things.
The Rolls Royce has the Bhp advantage whereas the Bentley has the torque advantage. However given everything on stake, it would be the Bentley Mulsanne that we would happily pick over the Rolls Royce.
Having a Rolls Royce or even Bentley Mulsanne in itself is a thing of pride. Both carry warranties of 3 years and unlimited kilometers plus both have exclusive services. One can even go for an extended warranty on these vehicles which would take up the total warranty tally to 6 years. However as regards the sales and service centers, Rolls Royce have a far better setup as compared with Bentley. However Bentley have ensured that their customers shouldn’t suffer due to the lack of service centers and have ensured that there is an inbuilt service schedule timer which would actually trigger an SMS to a Bentley service technician at the specified interval of service. He would then co-ordinate with the owner of the Bentley car and then accordingly provide a home service to the car. Back to the point of getting one Rolls Royce or Bentley, the time frame is 3-6 months from the time the car is ordered at the dealership. As far as the winner of this contest goes, it would be the Bentley Mulsanne in India. With its Germaness to the interiors coupled with some old world charms, the Rolls Royce Ghost in India cannot hold a candle to it. The Ghost does all what it is asked to do however it still reels back in the old world era, which may not be to the liking of many owners. However leave aside the layout of the interiors and both the cars are equally supreme in the field that they operate in. The pricing is also similar with the Rolls Royce Ghost price in India starting at Rs 3.57 crores while the Bentley Mulsanne price in India going upto Rs 3.20 crores. Both these cars can be kitted with 100s of options and the sky is the limit.
Our pick for the day is the Mulsanne.