• May 12th 2010 at 10:01AM
  • 12

2011 Bentley Mulsanne – Click above for high-res image gallery

Greetings from England, where we are attending the international launch of the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne. We've just returned from touring the model's new assembly line in Crewe with Project Leader Ashley Wickham, and we have some powertrain tidbits to share with you.

As the head honcho of Bentley's range-topping line, Wickham informs us that the Mulsanne was designed exclusively as a rear-drive model, preserving the decades-old lineage of the Arnage and its variants. When the new model was being conceived, all-wheel drive and a higher cylinder count were indeed on the table, as the Mulsanne's less-expensive stablemate, the Continental, has both more driven wheels and more firepots (twelve versus eight). However, the decision was made to keep the new Mulsanne as a more traditional grand touring model in the Arnage mold, hence its RWD and identical 6.75-liter V8 engine displacement (despite outward similarities, the twin-turbo engine is, in fact, all-new).

When we asked Wickham about future powertrain possibilities, he acknowledged that flex-fuel is in the cards; a predictable enough development considering that Bentley's high-profile Supersports spearheaded the news that the entire Continental range will go flex-fuel in June. And while Wickham stopped just short of ruling out a future diesel model, he did comment that one isn't presently in the works. Despite diesel's low-revving, torque-rich similarities to the company's gasoline V8, Wickham openly questioned how well such a powerplant would align with the marque's heritage. Equally unsurprising is that Wickham didn't mince words about hybrid technology, making it clear that gas-electric power is most definitely not in keeping with Bentley's flagship model.

For the moment, at least, those planning on commissioning a new Mulsanne will be forced to make do with the traditional gas-fed V8. Given that the new engine offers 505 horsepower and Bentley's famous 'Wall of Torque' delivery (752 pound-feet of the stuff) along with improved emissions and fuel economy, we're guessing that buyers won't find this any great hardship.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sounds like your trying to sell me something...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yawn. What a bunch of wankers. Wake me up when Bentley is relevant again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bentley is relevant, just not to 99% of us. Don't be jealous of that 1%
      • 5 Years Ago
      As psarhjinian said in comment #2, this is all about gaming the CAFE rating system. Ever wonder why only really big, thirsty vehicles are available with flex-fuel capability and not 4 cylinder subcompacts? The way this works is the car manufacturer gets to use the average of the gasoline consumption using E-85 and fuel economy using gasoline for CAFE purposes.

      I wish we'd just open the US market up to sugarcane and ethanol from Brazil. Would be interesting to see how ethanol does without the subsidies and tariffs to funnel money into Iowa.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If switching to alcohol fuels like ethanol is worth it, and I believe it is, why have the current clumsy and ineffective policy of indirectly encouraging flex fuel capability via regulatory breaks, and ethanol via tax breaks?

        Let's just mandate flex fuel capability in all new cars sold in America. Make it a standard feature like seat belts. It only costs automakers around $100 per car to add it to a model, $130 total if you include compatibility with methanol and other alcohols as well.

        Since 10% of cars on the road at any time are new that year, we'd drastically increase the market share of flex fuel up from its 3% or so right now, and in just 3-4 years it would make sense for most gas stations to convert one of their pumps to alcohol, especially methanol which is cheap, to avoid being undercut by their competitors.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good! I'm sick of this hybrid crap. Way to go Bentley!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not praising flex-fuel. I'm just glad its not a hybrid.
        • 5 Years Ago
        psarhjinian, you managed to *efficiently* cram a lot of ignorance and myth into a few short sentences.

        In the first place, CAFE doesn't work. It hugely increased average fuel economy from 13 to 20 between 1976 and 1990, but despite being able to go the same distance on less fuel, our gasoline consumption went UP from 89 to 103 billion gallons. Population and economic growth create more cars, drivers, and miles driven -- overall, per household, and even per capita -- , and that growth overwhelms even the biggest efficiency gains.

        Even if we could reduce fuel consumption by say 10% via whatever draconian means, OPEC can just cut production to match, spike the per-unit price, and make just as much or more on reduced sales volume, so the flow of funds to the crazies would be untouched.

        So fuel efficiency is both impossible and useless. What matters is not how much fuel you use, but WHAT fuel.

        Ethanol is clean-burning, can't pollute the water, renewable, can't have its market controlled by a price hiking cartel, and doesn't fund a death cult out to kill us. If our economy is safe from another 2008 style oil shock collapse, and if our enemies' funds and ability to make war dries up, are you really going to whine about filling up three times a month instead of twice?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, yes, because flex-fuel, which is basically a bureaucratic gaming of CAFE for the benefit of ADM and Monsanto that is more energy-expensive than regular car, less energy-dense and potentially harmful to many engines, is so much better than hybrid technology, which only increases the efficiency of an engine. I mean, who wants more efficiency when we can just shovel millions down the rat-hole of agribusiness.

        Can we be a little more thoughtlessly reactionary?
        • 5 Years Ago

        Just where is all the water going to come from to grow all that ADM corn?

        We must first break the lobbying control that ADM and Monsanto have in Washington and get all those fools (both Ds and Rs) to support turning agri-waste into C2H5OH and NOT foodstuffs. Brazil has done plenty with sugar-processing waste into ethanol.

        The goal is really to stop BURNING fuels and spewing out CO2, CO, NOx, heat, etc. Not a fan of Toyota, but hybrids are just better in that regard.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you're buying a Bentley, who cares about fuel efficiency? AWD is usless in this type of application IMO.

      If only someone could convince Ferrari not to abandon the traditional manual transmission.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1. You make a very good point. And someone also needs to convince Ferrari to lose this hybrid KERS stuff, too.