The new Bentley Mulsanne is a high-end luxury car produced by Bentley Motors Limited in the United Kingdom. The name is derived from Bentley's historical racing pedigree, which included five victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans — the Mulsanne Straight being the stretch of the Le Mans racing circuit where cars reach their highest speeds. Bentley also offers the cheaper Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Though it is supposed to compete with the similarly sized Rolls Royce Phantom, price-wise, it is even marginally cheaper than the Rolls Royce Ghost, the lesser model in Rolls Royce's range. It also competes with the Maserati Quattroporte. The Maybach 62 to is one of its competitors.
Legacy and significance
Bentley's new flagship model brings back the Mulsanne nameplate last used in 1992, and replaces the Bentley Arnage. The Mulsanne was unveiled at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, on 16 August 2009.Coupe and convertible variants are expected to follow at some point as replacements for the Arnage-based Brooklands and Azure respectively.
Like the Arnage, the Mulsanne retains the iconic 6.75 L (6750 cc/411 in³) OHV V8 engine, albeit heavily modified to meet Euro V emissions regulations. To achieve improved fuel consumption, the re-designed engine is lighter and features cylinder de-activation and variable cam phasing. Unlike the less expensive Bentley Continental Flying Spur and Bentley Continental GT, the Mulsanne shares very few components with other marques in the Volkswagen Group.
The Mulsanne is also notable as it is the first flagship car to be independently designed by Bentley Motors in nearly 80 years; the last being W.O. Bentley's iconic 8 litre model in 1930. Afterward, most Bentleys had shared platforms with Rolls-Royce cars.
The Mulsanne aims to recreate as much of Bentley's heritage as possible. For instance, the stainless steel knobs on the dashboard that control the vent plungers are electronic micro switches that send signals to the digital servos that handle the job. However, Bentley engineers painstakingly replicated the feedback of a precisely polished steel rod sliding over smooth felt to pull a soft leather damper closed. Other touches of Bentley history include the very large wheels with small sidewalled tyres, which give an echo of the ride comfort qualities of 1920's Bentleys.
Pricing and features
In the United Kingdom, the 2011 Mulsanne costs from £225,900 and in the US from $285,000. The first vehicle produced, chassis number one, was sold in August 2009 at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction for $550,000.
Each car takes twelve weeks to produce, and customers will have a choice of 114 paint colours, 21 carpet colours, nine wood veneers and 24 interior leather hides, and be able to specify a custom colour scheme. Additionally, the car has more advanced technology compared with the Arnage, and can be specified to feature a Naim 2200w audio system complete with MP3 compatibility, with Bluetooth and an advanced MMI capability.