It's an all-new Bentley, it's called the Mulsanne, and it's a vehicle that more than a few auto aficionados have been waiting for. Introduced this afternoon at Pebble Beach, the Mulsanne is a clean sheet redesign of Bentley's ever-enduring flagship and according to Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen, when they sat down to figure out everything they wanted to change on the Arnage, by the time they were finished, nearly nothing remained.
The Mulsanne is about eleven inches longer than the Flying Spur and rides on a new, bespoke chassis that sits so low on its wheels you can barely get a finger between the top of the front tire and the wheel well. The swelling line of the rear-quarter panel is reminiscent of the Brooklands. However, we were told that since Bentley had a good idea of what the Mulsanne was going to be when they were designing the Brooklands, they incorporated features that became aesthetic stepping stones to the Mulsanne.
The headlight arrangement is an homage to the historic 8-liter Bentleys from the brand's pre-Rolls-Royce days, that had their smaller lamps mounted slightly outboard from the mains. The central headlight element is ringed by daytime-running-light LEDs – when you see the car coming at you, it'll be unmistakable. In back, the taillight treatment is Continental series, but if you step away, it doesn't look like a Continental at all; the mass is broken up by gentle curves and accent planes. And get a load of that C-pillar...
Inside, the overhaul continues. Gone are the mid-century ergonomics and design of the Arnage, replaced by a cabin that showcases chrome-accented dials and modern switchgear -- like a joystick controller for the screen – among a forest of wood. Oh, and a brand new steering wheel.
You can find the press release after the jump and the high-res photos below, but what you won't find are things like engine and powertrain details. Those will remain secret until the Mulsanne's European reveal at the Frankfurt Motor Show. For the time being then, we can probably all be content to feast on the Mulsanne's looks.
Live photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
• Car is not a replacement for Arnage. While Arnage ends production this year the Mulsanne will be positioned "at the pinnacle of the ultra-luxury segment"
• The Mulsanne was inspired by the 8-litre Bentley of 1930-31, which at the time was the largest and most luxurious automobile in the world and was conceived as a halo car at the top of the Bentley range
• Mulsanne is an entirely new car, designed, engineered and to be manufactured at our factory in Crewe, England
• We can confirm that the engine will be a V8, but further details won't be revealed until Frankfurt
• Mulsanne is neither an evolution or revision of Arnage. We've created something unique, embodying the spirit of W.O – drawing on his passion for performance - and exemplifying the luxury and refinement Bentley is renowned for.
• Our ambition was to set new levels of comfort, acceleration and refined enjoyment – positioned at the very pinnacle of the luxury sector. That meant completely redesigning the famous 6.75L V8 and replacing every significant part to improve acceleration, performance throughout the range and fuel efficiency and emissions. It is a state-of-the-art engine with advanced technical features which are ground-breaking for the company and the ultra-luxury sector.
• The result is an engine that the offers the effortless wave of torque for which Bentley is renowned....power and performance whenever the driver demands it.
• Classic Bentley design language, including the muscular, sporting lines of the rear haunch and flowing lines that create a sense of power and speed, form an integral part of the Mulsanne's appeal.
• Mulsanne will offer customers unsurpassed levels of exquisitely handcrafted wood, leather and brightware – unrivalled Crewe craftsmanship.
• The Mulsanne name reflects Bentley's sporting pedigree, our passion for power and speed. Nowhere reflects that heritage better than Le Mans and the famous 90 degree corner a the end of the straight, a name which is synonymous with the Bentley marque.
• Car launched at the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance, Monterey California on 16 August 2009 at 12:00. It goes on sale in mid-2010 and we will offer a further opportunity to discuss powertrain, chassis and individual features at the Frankfurt show this September.
• A key discussion point is the fully-restored Bentley 8-litre we will display at Pebble Beach. This car was arguably W.O Bentley's finest work as it was designed and engineered without compromise....the new Mulsanne reflects that spirit to design and engineer without compromise.
• Just 100 examples of the 8-litre were built (1930-1931) and they're regarded as the last 'pure' grand Bentley before the company was acquired by Rolls-Royce. The new Mulsanne, designed and engineered at Crewe from the ground-up, reaffirms our ability and desire to build a new generation of pure, grand Bentleys.
NEW BENTLEY MULSANNE MAKES WORLD DEBUT AT
PEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE, CALIFORNIA
(Bentley Motors, Crewe, England) Today, Bentley Motors unveiled the Mulsanne, the company's all-new flagship grand tourer, at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Monterey, California.
The Mulsanne is inspired by the company founder W.O. Bentley's crowning achievement in1930, the 8-litre. And it was W.O.'s own carefully preserved company car that shared the podium with the new Mulsanne in Pebble Beach. This early motoring masterpiece represented the last big Bentley that was designed, engineered and built from the ground up by Bentley engineers - until now.
Nearly 80 years later, while paying respect to this illustrious past, the new Mulsanne is a thoroughly modern statement of luxury driving and grand touring. Conceived, styled and engineered entirely at Bentley's headquarters in Crewe, England, the Mulsanne, with its completely new platform, goes into production next year in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility within the Crewe factory.
Introducing the Bentley Mulsanne at Pebble Beach, where Bentley was the featured marque, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, said:
"The challenge we set our engineers was to create a grand new Bentley that would stand as the pinnacle of British luxury motoring, offering the world's most exclusive driving experience. They have responded to this challenge with real passion and the result is a luxury grand tourer that sets new standards in terms of comfort, effortless performance and hand-crafted refinement – the very qualities for which Bentley is renowned."
The Bentley design team, lead by Dirk Van Braeckel, have created a flagship that offers the classic sporting, styling cues long-associated with Bentley - expressed in a thoroughly contemporary way.
"From the very first hand sketches in the styling studio, we were inspired by the traditions of the grand touring Bentley limousines and have sought to evolve this story for a new generation of Bentley enthusiasts."
The return of the Mulsanne name to a car carrying Bentley's iconic 'Winged B' emblem underlines the company's racing pedigree and nowhere reflects that heritage better than the famed Le Mans circuit, the scene of no fewer than six Bentley triumphs. Few places offer a stronger or more emotive connection with the Bentley marque than the famed Mulsanne corner.
The Bentley 8-litre displayed alongside the Mulsanne in California was first shown at the 1930 London Motor Show. It was the second-built and was W.O. Bentley's company car for two years. Capable of reaching more than 100 mph, the 8-litre demonstrated W.O. Bentley's ambition and ability to build a grand luxury car capable of surpassing every other leading manufacturer of the day. A total of 100 cars were built in 1930 and 1931.
"The 8-litre's breathtaking performance and quality was perhaps the finest example of a 'pure' grand Bentley. Every mechanical detail carried W.O. Bentley's unique stamp and it was the clearest demonstration of a car built without compromise," commented Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board Engineering.
"The Mulsanne has been designed with exactly the same guiding principles, so it is entirely fitting that these Bentleys from different eras share the same stage."
The Bentley Mulsanne will go on sale from mid 2010. It will also be displayed at the forthcoming IAA Frankfurt Motor Show (15-27th September, 2009) where Bentley Motors will provide additional product information.