The Turbo R was the result of Bentley's decision to refine and improve the road manners of the Mulsanne Turbo. The Turbo R debuted in 1985 and was essentially a Mulsanne (which in turn was Bentley's version of the Roll-Royce Silver Spirit) with a completely revised suspension that gave the car a cornering and braking ability more appropriate for the 300+ hp that its turbocharged 6.8-liter V-8 produced. The suspension changes included different dampers and stiffer anti-roll bars among other updates, and by the time the car came to the U.S. in 1988, it had a new round-headlight front end treatment as well as a spec sheet that included anti-lock brakes and Bosch fuel injection.
The Bentley Turbo R was lauded by the press upon its introduction for delivering almost supercar-like performance including a mid-6 second 0-60 time in complete civility, with a commensurate improvement in handling as compared to the outgoing Mulsanne. All this was achieved while cosseting its occupants with reams of leather and multiple types of wood trim in the cockpit, in the typical Bentley fashion.
Over the years some changes included an airbag for 1990 that replaced troublesome motorized seatbelts, electronic ride-height control in 1991, and a new computer-controlled four-speed automatic transmission in 1992. In 1994, a new boost control system was added that raised peak horsepower for short bursts. In 1995, the "New" Turbo R was introduced, and this car differed from the previous model by having updated body-color cladding and mirrors as well as a sport button on the automatic gear shift that stiffened the suspension and changed the gearbox shift points. In all 5,196 short wheelbase and 2,034 long-wheelbase Turbo Rs and new Turbo Rs were built between 1985 and 1997.
Maintenance considerations for the Bentley Turbo R include costly dampers on cars with electronic ride height control. Owners also need to be careful that the correct fluid is used when servicing the hydraulic system that controls ride height and braking, as incorrect fluid replacement in this area can lead to extremely expensive overhaul for the hydraulic system on this lavishly equipped high performance British sedan.