Going on sale next year is the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne, which replaces the Bentley Arnage. Bentley describes the Mulsanne as neither an evolution or revision of Arnage. The Mulsanne has a clean sheet design. Its exterior doesn't share any feature with other Bentleys except 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. It features many handmade parts, including the fillet of metal below the rear window, constructed from three pieces of metal and brazed by hand. Its platform was developed specifically for this car. Bentley chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said that when he first thought about replacing the Arnage, he realized that the car required a new platform.
Bentley's head of exterior design Raul Piris said this enabled them to produce a car that looks expensive, and more modern than the Arnage. He said that the Mulsanne combines the technological feel of the Continental models with the prestige of the Arnage.Piris said the aim was to preserve the Arnage exclusivity and to avoid duplicating the Continental's look. He stated that the Mulsanne had to express a higher level of a coachbuilt look, and be more bespoke. Each Mulsanne will take 400 hours to build, 200 hours of which are for hand building.
The entire process takes about 15% longer than the Arnage. 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. According to Piris, the headlamps are inspired by the lighting arrangement from the 1955 Continental Flying Spur S1.
Under the bonnet is a heavily updated version of the Arnage L-series 6.75-litre V8, which can trace its origins back to the firm's first V8 from 1959. The twin-turbo unit puts out 505bhp and 752lb ft of torque, and is linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine also has improved torque delivery, with much more available lower down the rev range. Many modifications have been made 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 (including cam phasing and variable displacement) help to cut the engine's mass and improve fuel consumption by 15%. Sources say that this will be good for nearly 180mph. Suspension is by air springs all around. A set of 265/40 Pirelli P Zeros mounted on 20-inch wheels is standard, although 21-inch options are available as well.
Also an option is carbon ceramic brakes with eight piston calipers. A new Drive Dynamics Control system allows the driver to select three driving modes - 'Bentley', 'Sport' and 'Comfort'. Or if the driver prefers, he or she can have personal custom settings.
Further raising its customization level, the keyless entry system also allows the driver to pre-set radio stations, their phone book, plus seat, seatbelt and steering wheel settings. As soon as the Mulsanne has been launched, a long-wheelbase variant is expected to go on sale, with another 15cm added to the wheelbase. Design director Dirk van Braekel said he wants to create a coupe and a cabriolet Mulsanne in the future. A Mulsanne is priced at around £200,000.