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So Elephants CAN Dance: Bentley Mulsanne Put To The Test

Design Walkaround: Bentley Mulsanne

Check the rear cupholders @ 5:43. Yes, I know, I know… but still they’re cool cupholders!

Driving The Bentley Mulsanne

Wintry Conditions Handled. Bentley Style

by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Bentley Motors ::: Bentley Winter Accessories

DEUCE difficult to consider driving a Bentley Mulsanne in wintry conditions. One might hazard the slippery exercise in lesser, all-wheel drive models like the Continental GT, for instance. But a front engine/rear drive, land-of-hope-and-glory Mulsanne, Brooklands, or Azure? Perish the thought. Not so, insists Bentley. They have your winter tyres and chains and new AutoSock™ in stock.

Bentley Mulsanne In The Company’s 91st Year.

2010 bentley mulsanneby Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Bentley Motors ::: Bentley Mulsanne 2010/2011

BENTLEY is 90 and 1/2 years old.

In tandem with its 90th year, at 2009′s Pebble Beach, Bentley unveiled the Rolls-Royce Phantom fighting Mulsanne (pronounced “MUL-SAHN”) a from-the-ground-up new saloon that launches the marque headlong into the new millenium with plenty of the last century’s classic folly.

The scope of the Mulsanne, like its esteemed rival, is monumental.

Two-hundred and nineteen inches stem to stern. Fifty nine inches tall.

Twin-Turbo’d V8 produces 505 bhp @ 4200 rpm, 752 torques @ 1750 rpm (!) which is power channeled through a ZF 8 speed cog swapper which in turn pushes the 5700 pound chariot to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and then beyond 180 mph when the road, weather, and law permits (which of course, it never does).

Phew! What a car.

The Mulsanne début coincides with the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost, a car very much slotted to be more Rolls-Royce’s everyday driver, compared to the larger-than-life Phantom.

rr ghost

Whether potential owners are doing much cross-shopping between the two different echelons – and whether the Mulsanne will sap some sales from the Continental Flying Spur – the VW Phaeton based four-door saloon remains to be seen.

All told, for an exclusive marque approaching its 91st year; having lived past the Great Depression and weathering the Great Recession thus far, the Mulsanne represents a bully effort.

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What Price Change? Mulsanne’s New V8 Saves 15%

bentley mulsanne

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG Bentley Motors

EARLIER this Autumn there was much-a-do about the Bentley Mulsanne.

Bentley leaked images for what seemed like ages of an under-wraps car that they cryptically referred to as the “Grand Bentley”.  Finally, the Arnage successor, and Bentley flagship was unveiled at Pebble Beach and then again at Frankfurt.  We oohed. We aahed. Forgot to ask questions. And simply marveled.

And then…

Nothing.

It doesn’t take much more than a Bugatti’s involuntary off-road excursion or leaked images of new midsized Bavarian saloon to nicely divert the blogosphere’s inattention attention. But rest assured, friends, we’ve not lost track here.

So let’s cover a pretty important point.

Was an all new engine really necessary?

The established Bentley buyer took some comfort in knowing that the same push-rod V8 that powered his Arnage, was the same old cast-iron block that powered almost every Bentley since time immemorial (or 1959).

675 liter v8 bentley

Why the need to replace the same engine that powered the S3? Why displace what was likely for many knowledgeable owners a source of pride? Fifteen percent fuel savings?

From BentleyMotors.com:

[The new V8] contribute[s] towards meeting three key objectives: maximising torque, refinement and efficiency. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the introduction of two new electro-mechanical control systems: cam phasing and variable displacement. The pioneering use of these two technologies in combination allows the Mulsanne’s engine management system not only to actively adjust the V8’s breathing, but to effectively throttle back four of the cylinders entirely, independently of the others, when not required.

Cylinder cut-offs. Mercedes tried it. GM gave it a shot. Now Bentley’s in for a turn at what may prove to be a very finnicky engine management system that most owners won’t appreciate anyway.

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Details: The Mulsanne’s Flappy Paddles

By Gunnar Heinrich | Bentley Motors via YouTube

FURTHER evidence that more than anyone the Brits know that the art of luxury boils down to attention to lavish detail – even if this wasn’t quite so for assembly processes in years past. In the 2010 Bentley Mulsanne’s instance, that inimitable attention finds itself lavished on the knurled metal surfaces of the helm’s flappy paddles.

Check it out @ 0:37.

Design Detail: Bentley Mulsanne

bentley-mulsanne-automobilesdeluxe

Cutting a new shape from an old premise.

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG BentleyMotors.com

BENTLEY’S Mulsanne is growing on me.

While I, along with a quizzical handful of Bentley aficionados, await with baited breath to see what (doubtless plush) interior Crewe has crafted for its latest grand chariot, I’ve been pouring over the exterior shots of this handsome sedan (saloon, if we’re British).

The Mulsanne picks up where the Arnage left off by maintaining the earlier car’s préstance but they’ve adopted cues from a few other uber sedans.

Of course, there’s Rolls-Royce in those lines.  The tall, cliff-face front fenders belong to both marques as they recall the Silver Shadow / T-Series from the 60s and 70s.

And there’s Audi, too. The way the rear door’s line ignores the wheel well’s curvature in its diagonal straight-shot comes direct from a new-wave of German design theory that we’ve seen in every Audi sedan in the past decade (thought the A8 comes first to mind, somehow).

Finally, there’s the trunk (or boot, if you prefer).

bentley-mulsanne-trunk

The C-pillar descends softly into a high deck-lid. This is another classic Rolls/Bentley feature, albeit lifted for aerodynamics. It’s very modern to the point of being almost generic in its Euro-slickness. There’s practically no definition to the bumper from the rear three quarter profile.

In this respect, it takes what the (Maybach influenced) S-Class and CL-Class have achieved and pushed the envelope further.

s-class-trunk

mercedes-cl-trunk

Kudos to the ordinarily stolid British manufacturer carrying automotive design theory forward (in stead of backwards). Let’s just see if wears with time. If the short spell since the Mulsanne’s Pebble Beach debut are anything to judge by, chances are it’ll grow on me.

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Just How Grand? The Bentley Mulsanne

bentley-mulsanne-automobilesdeluxeLike fishermen beholding a great catch.

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG Bentley Motors

WHATto make of Crewe’s new Mulsanne recently unveiled at Pebble Beach?

There’s much for there’s much car to behold!

Imposing and regal, the Arnage successor and the noble chariot that carries on the name – “Mulsanne” – first bestowed upon a rally car in the 1930s and then again on a rebadged Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit in the 1980s, is the next “Grand Bentley”.

bentley-mulsanne-turbo-automobiles-de-luxe

The new, full-size sedan confirms that Bentley still operates in the upper echelon of the super- luxury market and ready to level with rival Rolls-Royce.

The car does, however, look slightly odd by some angles.

bentley-mulsanne-adl

There’s more than a hint of Arthur C. Clarke to those projector beam phaser headlights and just a tad too much Christopher E. Bangle in those flame surfaced flanks.

There are still pearls that the ancien regime can appreciate, however.

For instance, those fat, diagonally reclining C-Pillars which handily hide rear occupants from the paparazzi and descend smoothly into the rear wheel well flanks – separate from the boot line – and finalize into the taillights are classic pre-war and immediate post-war Rolls-Royce/Bentley.

bentley-mulsanne-saloon-automobilesdeluxe

You’ll note that the Queen’s limo features rather similar hindquarters.

queens-bentley

Then there’s the iridescent quality to the paint finish. Lustrous and true to Crewe standards of multi-faceted brilliance, it’s never the same color at any one angle but rather a symphonic melody that surprises and pleases in equal share.

bentley-phantom

That said, I can’t tell whether those large “eyes” and that open gaped front air dam remind me more of a basking shark or a whale shark. In either event, the Mulsanne carries a slightly cartoonish presence that put its under the same kind of scrutiny that Rolls-Royce has received since the Phantom’s debut in 2003.

It’s difficult to follow on a predecessor so breathtakingly elegant and delightfully grand as the Arnage. Nevertheless, the Mulsanne for model year 2010, is the next step firmly planted in the correct direction.

bentley-mulsanne-three-quarters-automobilesdeluxe