It’s being billed as the Mulsanne that owners will want to drive — not be driven in, but even though the Speed has some very impressive numbers on its side, is that enough of an incentive to give ol’ Jeeves the day off and take the wheel for yourself? Well, 1,100Nm of torque is very persuasive, as is 530bhp, a 0-100kph sprint time of just 4.9 seconds and a 305kph top speed. But that back seat with every amenity you can think of and dripping with opulence has very strong pulling power too...

Indeed, it’s the second row that I choose to try first and it immediately blows me away. The attention to detail is astounding and although everything about the Bentley has a real sense of occasion, it’s inside this grand saloon, particularly the second row, where this is especially prevalent. I’m surrounded by the finest leather hides, wood veneers, polished chrome trim and with hand-stitched excellence on every single surface I feel like one of those one percenters that’d be buying this Dh1.3 million car. They don’t just churn these out in Crewe willy-nilly; it takes 400 hours to build just one Mulsanne. Twelve of those hours are taken up polishing the paint and 150 crafting the interior. No wonder it’s ever so nice in there then and for 2017 it’s become even better. The cabin gets a few updates including a new 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and a 60 GB solid-state hard drive to store media. I’m busy fiddling with the new Android-powered Bentley Entertainment Tablets and the pair of 10.2in touchscreens that rise electronically out of the backs of the front seats feature all sorts of software such as Skype and Google Play and it’s a while before I decide to leaver the comforts of the back for the driver’s seat. Usually, I’m the first to jump behind the wheel of a car but the Mulsanne’s rear is so luxurious that I can’t scoff at those who say that they’d rather be in the back. There’s an aura of refinement in the cabin — if it was a hotel room, it’d earn five gleaming stars. Nestled between the outrageously comfortable individual chairs is an immaculate centre console and a delightful hidden panel of controls that adjust the massage settings, and bolstering of the seats, but if it wasn’t lavish enough, I find a chilled box for beverages back there too. And should you wish to be shielded from the harsh realities of the outside world all it takes is a mere push of a button to activate the electronically powered blackout curtains and you really do feel detached from all earthly matters.

There are times during my test drive that I feel that its obscene amount of torque is at odds with the grace of this car...

The redesigned interior is a good balance of modernity and tradition; it has three analogue dials in the centre console and no less than 40 different pieces of real wood trim in there. Bentley even adds an extended wheelbase model — but that one really is for customers that wish to be chauffeured (you can recline the rear right side seat all the way to stretch your legs out and sleep on long journeys in that) but this is the Speed and Bentley wants you to take control and drive it. So, I hop into the front and immediately pine for the luxury of the back — not that the driver’s seat isn’t nice, it is, but nothing  can match that second row. Up front, I am afforded a wonderful view out; perched up high and rolling smoothly past everyone else in their mere transportation devices gives me a feeling of superiority, not to mention power and then I literally get the latter when I bury the throttle into the inch-deep carpet and awake the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, an engine that’s been in production in one guise or another since 1959.

There are two ways to drive this; parade it slowly or call on every one of those 530 horses (it has 25bhp more than the standard Mulsanne) and believe it or not, both ways are equally thrilling. However, there are times during my test drive that I feel that its obscene amount of torque is at odds with the grace of this car; do you really need to go that fast in something this grand? Well, even when you do, it’s entertaining but I find opting for Comfort mode brings out the best of the Bentley as it offers a near silent ride and irons out any road imperfections in this mode. If you wish to tackle the corners with a bit more panache, you should do so in the Continental at the very least. Engage Sport and it doesn’t transform into a sportscar even though it firms up the redesigned air suspension a little, but it feels like it pushes ride comfort way past what you’d expect from a Mulsanne in this setting, and after the first go you may never bother with it ever again. It’s a little underwhelming too; you’d think it would at least sharpen up the throttle response and if it does, I didn’t notice. Not that this takes anything away from this lavish saloon — there is immense pleasure to be had in wheeling this land yacht with the tach ticking over at 1,500rpm where the engine is barely audible. Yes, it leans heavily on those front tyres on the rare occasion when you do corner it hard and you get a fair bit of understeer too and as for the steering it’s a touch on the weightier side and the feedback is a tad masked but, come on, nobody expects this to handle like a hot hatch. It scores best when you’re cruising (the eight-speed shifts as smooth as silk) and feels just as sublime in the front seat as it does in the back; there’s no shivering or thudding that one might expect from a car with a wheelbase as long as 3,266mm when it rolls over an uneven road — it rides ever so majestically and feels on a par with the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The disappointed looks on everyone’s faces when they pull up expecting to find a dignitary in the car but only see little old me is priceless...

Even though Bentley is a touch cavalier when it comes to technology (it doesn’t have a lane departure warning system and you’d expect that for the price...) I soon find that you don’t really need it. Everyone else on the road is so aware of the stately Mulsanne Speed that they give you plenty of room to manoeuvre. In fact, traffic parts automatically when you approach and I’d hazard a guess it’s probably due to the fear of receiving a repair bill the size of your arm if they were to scratch it.

The disappointed looks on everyone’s faces when they pull up expecting to find a dignitary in the car but only see little old me is priceless. I’m driving with the rear blinds closed to add to the mystery of just who my passengers could be but it’s not long before they’re open again. If I had any rear-seat passengers they’d be enjoying the privacy afforded by them however driving with a totally restricted view in such a large car isn’t the easiest thing to do. At least you can spec safety features such as a reversing camera to help you park because when measuring 5,575mm long and 2,208mm wide you need all the help you can get. However, when I engage Reverse I am left slightly disappointed with the sharpness of the image displayed on the screen. It isn’t as clear as you’d be expecting and if you’re not careful you’ll curb those 21in wheels milled from single alloy blocks. You wouldn’t want to do that — not when they cost around Dh17,000 each.

At traffic lights around town I notice with alarming regularity that people have stopped what they’re doing just to gaze at this car and I can’t blame them, I’d be doing likewise if I was out there after all this is a beautiful, British hyper-luxury saloon that commands attention and respect. It boasts the same general design cues as the base model including a new wider grille with vertical slats that pay homage to historic Bentley models, sporty air dam, and LED headlights but it’s the B-shaped vent at the bottom of the fenders that gives way to a large chrome strip extending back to the rear wheels that stands out the most. Around the back, it packs taillights with a darker ambiance and the two oval exhaust tips round it all off very nicely indeed.

At traffic lights around town I notice with alarming regularity that people have stopped what they’re doing just to gaze at this car and I can’t blame them...

So, is this hand-built work of art — designed for the world’s most discerning and wealthiest motorists — a driver’s car or should you leave that to your chauffeur? Well, a Mulsanne that you wheel yourself is a bit of an oxymoron and in spite of its name, I would argue that it is not a driver’s car in the typical sense. It’s just too opulent to thrash; you can be aggressive with a fully-specced Porsche Panamera or Audi A8 — two very grand motors in their own right — but you can’t compare them with a full-fat Mulsanne which rewards you far better when you treat it with dignity and respect. Sure, it has the firepower to leave most sportscars in your rear view, but these sort of shenanigans don’t match its suave demeanour. You wouldn’t do a triathlon in your suit and tie now would you.

It’s the one percenters of the world that cars of this ilk are aimed at and they’ll buy the Mulsanne Speed for the sheer statement it makes alone. They won’t wince at the price tag and every optional extra will be ticked too. This is one of the finest cars that money can buy and that it also possesses incredible straight line performance to go with the ever so luxurious cabin, with a back seat where you’ll spend all of your time, is an added bonus.

You’ll be grinning from ear to ear if you take ownership of this — but I suspect Jeeves will be smiling far more than you…