Bentley has raised the bar with its opulent flagship the Mulsanne – literally as my wife discovered.

An inquisitive push of a button at the top of a frosted motorised glass screen hidden behind a fold-down panel in the rear seats, revealed three crystal champagne flutes in an illuminated refrigerated cooler that only lacked a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

Opulent details maybe, but they underline the attention lavished on the pinnacle of Crewe craftsmanship. With its striking appearance, refined ride and effortless comfort, the Mulsanne is a monumental demonstration of the carmaker’s art.

Celebrating Bentley’s centenary year, the front has been entirely redesigned. Its imposing front end is now dominated by a large stainless steel vertical-vane grille that celebrates the great models of the past, such as the 8-Litre of 1930, Embiricos and R-Type Continental.

On the inside, you are surrounded by handcrafted wood, leather and metal fittings, with redesigned seats, new door trims and armrests, gleaming chrome switchgear and a choice of no fewer than 24 hide colours for the upholstery.

Rear seat passengers are kept royally entertained with a pair of iPad-sized TV screens that glide up from the back of the front seats. Flipping up a pad in the fold-down armrest exposes switchgear to adjust the heated and cooled and massaging rear seats.

While the pampered people sitting in the lap of luxury in the rear with their optional £1,150 deep pile Wilton carpets have plenty to play with, the high-performance version of the car driven here is actually designed primarily to please the driver.

For this is the magnificent Mulsanne Speed, a luxury limousine created specifically for an owner who prefers to drive the car themselves, rather than be driven.

Sitting under the huge bonnet sits a more powerful version of Bentley’s mighty 6¾-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine whose vital statistics are simply awe-inspiring – 530 horsepower, acceleration from 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 190mph.

Selectable sports suspension helps to keep this breath-taking power in check to deliver a combination of outstanding driving satisfaction with supreme comfort.

The designers have given car buffs plenty of subtle clues to spot the Mulsanne Speed on the move, with a dark tint finish applied to the exterior brightware, giving the Speed a more menacing appearance, along with a set of 21-inch, hand-finished, dark-tint alloy wheels, dark tinted front and rear lamps and rifled sports exhausts.

On the inside, the Speed comes with a Mulliner Driving Specification interior giving diamond-quilted seats, a knurled aluminium gear lever, drilled alloy sport pedals and carbon fibre waist rail inserts.

Now for the cost of the car which starts at £255,800. The special ‘tungsten over moonbeam’ paintwork adds a further £12,120 to the price tag, an upgraded entertainment system another £15,790 and the bottle cooler and champagne flutes mentioned earlier, a chilling £8,310.

Now you might have more questions about how much a Mulsanne Speed will cost to insure and what its annual vehicle excise duty bill will be, never mind the 350-mile range of its 96-litre fuel tank. But these are all firmly in the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it bracket.

There were plenty of those queries when I pulled up outside Oxfordshire business of the year property and construction consultants, Ridge, at Blenheim Park. I don’t know precisely how many people work there, but I do know most of them poured out of their offices for a peek.

I was there as a favour to ferry Pauline Englefield, appropriately known to all as Lady P, across Blenheim park to a retirement lunch at The White House in nearby Bladon to mark 31 years with the company.

And what better way to raise a glass to that sort of dedicated service than a ride in a rather special Bentley.

Auto facts

Model: Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Price: £317,820 as tested

Insurance group: 50 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 18.8mpg

Top speed: 190mph

Length: 557.5cm/218.9in

Width: 192.6cm/86.9in

Luggage capacity: 15.6 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 21 gallons/96 litres

CO2 emissions: 342 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles