Tuesday, 18 August 2009

New Car: 2010 Bentley Mulsanne

Bentley has just unveiled the replacement for the Arnage, the Bentley Mulsanne, at the Pebble Beach Concours in California.

The Mulsanne is described by Bentley as “neither an evolution or revision of Arnage.” It is a clean sheet design, and nothing on the car’s exterior is shared with any other Bentley apart from the door mirror, which comes from the ethanol-powered SuperSports.

Every panel is unique to the Mulsanne – even the door handles have been developed for the car – and it features many handmade parts, including the fillet of metal below the rear window, constructed from three pieces of metal and brazed by hand.

Underneath the Mulsanne is a platform developed specifically for this car. Bentley chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said that when he first started looking at replacing the Arnage, he realised that the car "needed change," and that new platform would be needed. Bentley’s head of exterior design Raul Piris said this allowed them to produce a car that looks expensive, and more modern than the Arnage.

“The Mulsanne combines the technological feel of the Continental models with the prestige of the Arnage,” he said. “But we wanted to preserve the Arnage’s exclusivity, and avoid duplicating the Continental’s look. The Mulsanne needs to express a higher level of a coachbuilt look, and be more bespoke.”

Each will take 400 hours to build - 15% longer than the Arnage and hand building takes 200 of those hours.

The unusual quad headlamps are a further development of the round headlamp theme that has featured on every Bentley built in the firms’ 90-year history. They are, according to Piris, inspired by the lighting arrangement from the 1955 Continental Flying Spur S1.

Under the bonnet is a heavily updated version of the Arnage’s L-series 6.75-litre V8, which can trace its origins back to the firm’s first V8 from 1959. Bentley’s engineers have made many changes to the engine to make it suitable for the car and to pass modern emissions legislation. Lighter, more efficient components such as the water pump and many new internal components help to cut the engine’s mass and improve fuel consumption. The engine is also said to be fitted with new fuel-saving technology, which could include cylinder deactivation.

The engine also has improved torque delivery, with much more available lower down the rev range. Bentley isn’t yet revealing how much torque or power this engine has, although it’s unlikely to much more than the current unit’s 738lb ft. It is more powerful than the Arnage’s engine though, with over 500bhp. Despite this it won’t match the Flying Spur’s 200mph, although Bentley sources say that is will be good for nearly 180mph. The car has all-round air suspension and 21" alloy wheels.

Once the Mulsanne has been launched, expect a long-wheelbase variant to go on sale, with another 15cm added to the wheelbase. Design director, Dirk van Braekel said he would like to do a coupe and a cabriolet Mulsanne in the future.

The first Mulsanne sedan sold for $500,000 at Pebbles Beach. Bentley is planning to sell around 700 Crewe built Mulsannes a year, priced at around £200,000. The car will go on sale mid-2010.

Press Release:

Bentley Motors unveiled the Mulsanne, the company's all-new flagship grand tourer, at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Monterey, California.

The Mulsanne is inspired by the company founder W.O. Bentley's crowning achievement in 1930, the 8-litre. And it was W.O.'s own sensitively conserved company car that shared the podium with the new Mulsanne in Pebble Beach. This early motoring masterpiece represented the last big Bentley that was designed, engineered and built from the ground up by Bentley engineers - until now.

Nearly 80 years later, while paying respect to this illustrious past, the new Mulsanne is a thoroughly modern statement of luxury driving and grand touring. Conceived, styled and engineered entirely at Bentley's headquarters in Crewe, England, the Mulsanne, with its completely new and unique platform, goes into production next year in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility within the Crewe factory.

Introducing the Bentley Mulsanne at Pebble Beach, where Bentley was the featured marque, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, said: "The challenge we set our engineers was to create a new grand Bentley that would stand as the pinnacle of British luxury motoring, offering the world's most exclusive driving experience. They have responded to this challenge with real passion and the result is a luxury grand tourer that sets new standards in terms of comfort, effortless performance and hand-crafted refinement - the very qualities for which Bentley is renowned."

The Bentley design team, lead by Dirk van Braeckel, have created a flagship that offers the classic sporting, styling cues long-associated with Bentley - expressed in a thoroughly contemporary way.

"From the very first hand sketches in the styling studio, we were inspired by the traditions of the grand touring Bentleys and have sought to evolve this story for a new generation of Bentley enthusiasts."

The return of the Mulsanne name to a car carrying Bentley's iconic ‘Winged B' emblem underlines the company's racing pedigree and nowhere reflects that heritage better than the famed Le Mans circuit, the scene of no fewer than six Bentley triumphs. Few places offer a stronger or more emotive connection with the Bentley marque than the famed Mulsanne corner.

The Bentley 8-litre displayed alongside the Mulsanne in California was first shown at the 1930 London Motor Show. It was the second-built and was W.O. Bentley's company car for two years. Capable of reaching more than 100 mph, the 8-litre demonstrated W.O. Bentley's ambition and ability to build a grand luxury car capable of surpassing every other leading manufacturer of the day. A total of 100 cars were built in 1930 and 1931.

"The 8-litre's breathtaking performance and quality was perhaps the finest example of a ‘pure' grand Bentley. Every mechanical detail carried W.O. Bentley's unique stamp and it was the clearest demonstration of a car built without compromise," commented Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board Engineering.

"The Mulsanne has been designed with exactly the same guiding principles, so it is entirely fitting that these Bentleys from different eras share the same stage." The Bentley Mulsanne will go on sale from mid 2010. It will also be displayed at the forthcoming IAA Frankfurt Motor Show (15-27th September 2009) where Bentley Motors will provide additional product information.

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