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How Do You Like Me Now? Bentley Mulsanne

by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Bentley Motors ::: 2011 Bentley Mulsanne

IT’S been a full trip around the sun since the “Grand Bentley’s” red-carpet début at Pebble Beach.  Ample time to absorb the 2011 Mulsanne’s battleship proportions, rounded contours, and new design hallmarks that have already trickled down to the new Continental GT.

Has time and familiarity treated this bold new flagship kindly? Or does the 2011 Mulsanne have us longing for the Arnage? Have your say in comments. For a better look, hit the jump for more Mulsanne & Arnage pictures.

October 21, 2010
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About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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  1. A car not only shows our ability to manipulate matter and physics, it shows our discipline, for the time, to make it glide on both. I would say yes, the Mulsanne is staying true to that.

  2. I always felt that the Arnage lagged behind the times as far as the aesthetic went. And I understand that the car absolutely needed to look stately — I just thought it looked like it belonged to a 20th century monarchy rather than a modern street. The Mulsanne’s smooth lines bring the vehicle into the 21st century without compromising any dignity — well done.

  3. I’m sure that sitting in this car is like like having your whole body massaged by angels. And I’m quite confident that it could tow the QE2.

    But ever since I was a kid, the Bentley stuck out for being not quite a Rolls Royce. And to my eyes, ain’t a damn thing changed.

    It’s like Clarkson said with one of those Astons. Even though it cost 50grand more, you still couldn’t buy the cheaper one because one day the real thing would pull up next to you at the lights and you’d know – you’d absolutely know – that you bought the wrong car.

  4. Hmmmm. As a feat of engineering, I’m sure the Mulsanne’s a fantastic car. I should imagine it has the Arnage beat in just about every driving dynamic. But in terms of styling, well, it just doesn’t interest me at all.

    I guess I’m a traditionalist, but to me there’s something fundamentally ‘right’ about the lines of the Arnage. Yes, it’s rather old hat, but proudly so, and it’s well balanced and elegant with it. On the other hand, the Mulsanne… well, to me, if you removed the badges, what would it be? It could be anything at all. Despite the unapologetic bulk, it just doesn’t shout Bentley to me.

    Having said this, here’s the proof that I must be a traditionalist: I’d rather have a Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph than either of them!

    John.

  5. Swade and John both articulated my sentiments exactly. The new Mulsanne excites me about as much as the new Jaguar XJ….Jag lost me when they replaced the x308. I’m trying very hard to like the modern, subtle rounded lines of the Bentley Mulsanne and XJ, but it just does not work for me. Even seeing a real, physical example doesn’t excite me. But I’m not the demographic Bentley is attempting to seduce. I think that the Silver Cloud and Bentley S type were the last real RR and Bentleys produced. I would however, buy the new RR Ghost in a heartbeat. If the contest is between the Ghost and the Mulsanne, it really is no contest.

    Best regards,
    Brad

  6. The musty, timelessness of the Arnage is appealing. The design could have come from any decade since WWII.

    The raised hunches of the Mulsanne’s rear fender line strikes me as awkward. As it seems to suggest a go-fast idiom rather than effortless performance. The design seems more American than British, that’s not bad, but not what you’d expect. If those haunches showed up on some future Lincoln Mark whatever, no one would blink and Cadillac’s CTS features them. Can’t say I’ll ever like the face of Mulsanne. The LED’s look tacky, though I know that EU regulations are a reason that they are there.

    The Mulsanne’s interior appears more inviting. It seems spacious while the Arnage seems cramped.

  7. Owning the new Bentley Mulsanne isn’t about shouting “look at me, I better than you”; but quietly, confidently, and smugly knowing that you really are. People spend their whole lives searching for such subtle confidence. Thankfully, it’s now available at your friendly Bentley dealership. “Out of my way peasants, I’m coming through”. I love it.

  8. This new Bentley still calls back to the past designs of large front and rear ends, but adds those smooth lines that help make it more modern. But at the same time, I must admit, I dislike the headlamp design. It seems out of place on the Mulsanne, almost as if the designers wanted to incorporate the popular light design of the Audi’s and BMW’s and Benz’s, but forgot to figure out how to work it into the classical and elegant design of a Bentley.

    Still, it’s a beautiful car for a Royal or a newly married couple going to the reception.

  9. If Bentley had just used the front of the Arnage, and the body of the Mulsanne, it would have been epic. Now, you have a huge car, an amazing interior, and the front and back of a car that you’ll see in a rap video.

    The Arnage looked aggressive, and put off a sense of “I’m better than you” appeal. The Mulsanne gives me a happy, goofy, clown car feeling when looking at it from the front. Hey, girls wont know the difference, but you’ll just feel silly driving it. But hey, it’s a Bentley so I guess you can’t really complain if you have one.

  10. I had a much longer stylistic analysis but deleted it in favor of this: I don’t want my very expensive car presenting the same expression as my happy-go-lucky dog with a bone in his mouth.

  11. Hear, hear Brad! I miss the X308 too. Downing Street just does not look as classy any more. Funnily enough, I’ve been past twice in the last few weeks and both times, under a car cover in front of No. 12, appears to be the decade old, ex prime ministerial X308 – I kid you not! The PM stopped using it about three months ago, and it appears to have sat outside ever since!

    John.

  12. The Arnage needed a makeover. Rather than straying too far from the design that cemented them in the forefront of automotive desire, Bentley stuck with tried and true proportions and concepts, updated for 2010. Is this shocking? No. But it’s not amazing, either.
    This is a handsome car. But will we look back in twelve years and see the Mulsanne as a true successor the the Arnage and it’s legacy? Doubtful.

  13. handsome car, but I think the design needs a couple of years to ‘mature’ before it is accepted by a broader audience.

  14. John,

    That’s very intriguing! John, perhaps that PM x308 can be purchased reasonably in view of the recent govt. cost cutting initiatives?!?!? What a collectible that would be in a few
    years!

    Very best regards,
    Brad

  15. The Arnage was the penultimate driver’s car for entreating ones friends to an evening at the country club or deciding it was more appropriate to drive yourself to the shareholders meeting rather than letting the rest of the board see that you could not be bothered to put forth the effort of making it somewhere without your chauffeured Rolls Royce. It was understated yet bold, simplistic and brutal, a victorian estate on wheels. Pomp and circumstance were only the beginning, you had arrived and everyone knew it. That was until the riffraff and nouveau riche decided to go baller with Bentleys and what once was reserved for the old guard was placed upon the sacrificial alter of conspicuous consumption only to end up in suspicion with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Rolex. Although Bentley’s Louis Roederer Cristal moment has yet to come if ever, one can not help but balk at the thought of buying a Bentley only to be mistaken for a flash in the pan athlete or worse, entertainer. That said I was less than pleased to hear that the Arnage would be coming to an end especially when Bentley had nearly redeemed itself with the Brooklands coupé. Then the Mulsanne hit the print and Internet with veiled teaser shots tantamount to a parity of a Muslim burka swimsuit calendar. Then the grand reveal and instant mortification.

    It can be argued with empirical evidence that Chris Bangle has forever ruined BMW, that the current Mercedes look like Acuras, that Audi has forsaken its understated luxury for something a bit more Jersey Shore. For a driver’s car Bentley was supposed to be the safe bet, the unequivocal last zion of good taste and fortitude. The Mulsanne almost pulled it off. The intricacies of the instrumentation, the attention to detail, the bespoke possibilities all meant to welcome back the old guard as if to apologize for past transgressions. However the most grand point of contention is in the headlights. I didn’t know the British Isles were capable of producing something that ugly since Susan Boyle. Everything else is spot on as if subjected to the Golden Ratio with the blaring exception of the very front of the vehicle. I wonder if Bentley’s Mulliner will redo the front facade if the price is right? Needless to say I was aghast with the photos of the Mulsanne but when the video of it in its throws bounding down the tight winding roads of every ubiquitous European promo video were released upon the Internet in near HD video a feel of calm and relief washed over me. Indeed a mild feeling of malaise will rear its ugly head when one gives the headlights the colloquial thousand yard stare but for the most part I am now indifferent. Who gives a shit how the headlights look when you are driving one down the country lane or through the city while the plebeians stare slack jawed at your opulence. The fact remains, you can afford one and they can’t.

  16. The mulsanne is one of the most beautiful luxury cars I ever seen my fav bently by far

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