Bentley Dishes Details on Its New Mulsanne Flagship

By Editors on September 16, 2009 8:18 AM

Following a preview appearance last month at the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Monterey, California, Bentley did a full reveal of its all-new Mulsanne, which will replace the Arnage as the automaker's flagship sedan. The first "big Bentley" to be designed, engineered and built from the ground up in house since that classic was initially created some 80 years earlier, this imposing new sedan was created under the leadership of Dirk Van Braeckel and features an all-new platform, super-lux interior trappings and a complete remake of the firm's historic 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that is both more powerful and more fuel efficient than the engine currently used in Bentley's Brooklands and Azure models as well as the outgoing Arnage.

Named after a corner on the Le Mans circuit where Bentley has won the fabled 24-hour race no less than six times, the Mulsanne offers a contemporary take on sporty styling while paying direct homage to its forbear in elements like its headlight treatment and flowing character lines. It's a look that Crispin Marshfield, senior designer, that the exterior styling for the Bentley categorizes as "a fusion of extremes." Handcrafted body panels mix steel, aluminum and composite materials to create a taut, muscular shape set off by 20-inch alloy wheels. Inside, a near-limitless selection of customer-specified traditional rich wood and leather is matched with modern tech touches like personalized keyless entry/start system, 14-speaker premium audio package, satellite navigation system with 40-gigabyte hard drive, Bluetooth and power everything. Properly complementing those trappings, the Mulsanne rides on an all-new -- and Bentley-specific -- chassis that includes a Drive Dynamics Control system with three preset tuning modes plus a custom setting that permits any driver to fine-tune the suspension, steering and throttle response to their personal preferences.

Arguably the most stunning technical achievement to be found in this new Bentley lies beneath its long, flowing hood where house engineers found a way to make an overhead valve engine with only two valves per cylinder have the output to properly motivate 2.5 tons of luxury liner while still meeting today's stringent emissions requirements. For the record, this all-aluminum twin-turbo V8 makes 505 horsepower and delivers a stout 752 lb-ft of torque at just 1,800 rpm while offering 15 percent better fuel economy and lowering its CO2 output by an equal amount. Beyond its brilliant matchup of low-mass/low-friction components, this lightweight V8 is the first Bentley engine to employ variable camshaft phasing and variable displacement (cylinder deactivation) technologies. Backing it is a new eight-speed, paddle-shiftable automatic transmission.

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