2010 Bentley Mulsanne at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel - click above image for hi-res gallery
Bentley invited a few of us auto journo types down to the decadently posh Beverly Wilshire Hotel to meet its COO Christophe Georges and admire the company's new super land yacht, the 2010 Bentley Mulsanne. Not only that, but they spilled the beans on all the juicy technical details that makes the Mulsanne, well, special. And please trust us, the Mulsanne is special.
One small catch, however. All them juicy details are embargoed until next week during the Frankfurt Motor Show. So even though we know the exact, staggering amount of power the Mulsanne will be sending to its rear wheels – and trust us again, it is staggering – we can't tell you. Yet. Infuriating, no? But, we did learn a couple of juicy details that we can share with you in this here teaser post. Better than nothing, right?
First and foremost, we sat in the car, front and back. The smell, you will not believe the smell. With the Mulsanne, Bentley has reverted back to the leather tanning process that the firm employed pre-1950. And the aroma will make vegetarians cry. It's that wonderful. Rich, opulent, intoxicating – this folks is what money smells like. Old money. Real money. Just fantastic.
The question then, besides that wonderful musky scent, is why revert back to such an old technique? In the words of COO Georges, "The Mulsanne is the purest Bentley ever. The best of British motoring." They brought the Mulsanne to Beverly Hills because California is their biggest U.S. market, and the U.S. market is their biggest world market. After we left, Bentley customers were brought in to ooh and ahh the new super sedan.
The Mulsanne is Bentley's first real attempt to get back to its roots. It seeks to accomplish three important things. The first is to be a link to Bentley DNA of yore, specifically the wonderful but back-stabbed by fate 8 Litre. It's a testament to the cars piloted by W.O. and the rest of the Bentley Boys, like Woolf Barnato; to the glorious machines described by Ettore Bugatti as "the fastest lorries in the world" but that still managed to keep winning and winning at Le Mans. Second, the Mulsanne is free of compromises. Again, it's very frustrating that we can't share any details with you right now, but let's just say we didn't notice too many compromises.
Third, the Mulsanne, and really all Bentley products going forward, must remain relevant in regards to green technology. And while a hybrid Bentley makes as much sense a screen doors on a submarine (and we were assured the same is true for diesel), starting in 2012 all Bentleys will be 15% more efficient. In keeping with that corporate dictate, the Mulsanne is 15% more efficient than the outgoing Arnage... We think it's safe to tell you that.
And while we can't tell you (sigh) what's under the hood (besides the already known fact that it's a V8), we can tell you that a briefcase holds all the shared parts between the old 6.75-liter and whatever the new one is. The chassis is also brand new, totally bespoke and unique to the Mulsanne "for now." When we pressed Bentley on what exactly the "for now" caveat meant, they said that a coupe and/or a convertible could be in the platform's future. When we pressed them further on the possibility that the Mulsanne's chassis might actually underpin the much rumored Bugatti Bordeaux, they replied simply that if someone above them at VAG decided to do so, it was out of their hands. Fair enough.
What else can we say? The Mulsanne will go on sale in Q3 of 2010. Price? Nothing firm, but it's A) more than you got, and B) the price will be reflective of the best of British motoring. Sounds like about $350,000 to us, but who knows? The car is hand built in a new body shop at the company's Crewe factory. We asked how they will be positioning the Mulsanne against its natural arch-rival, the Rolls-Royce Phantom? Said Georges, "In one you are driven. The other you drive." Oh snap!
He continued, "Bentleys don't generate envy. They generate admiration." Urm, we'll get back to Monsieur Georges on that one. In fact ,once the motoring public at large gets a load of the Mulsanne's specs, we're thinking there's going to be a whole lot of generated envy. Until Frankfurt.