2011 Bentley Mulsanne
In one light, the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne is just another expensive car. But refocus that light slightly, and its launch becomes a rare occurrence indeed.
It is the first car designed from the ground up solely as a Bentley since the 8-Litre of 1928, and it is meant to represent all that Bentley stands for. It succeeds the 2009 Arnage, which went out of production last October, as the marque's largest sedan.
The Mulsanne was first revealed last year at the Pebble Beach Concours d"Elegance in August, and first customer deliveries will start this fall. The Mulsanne is built and trimed at the traditional Bentley factory in Crewe, which was renovated for the new luxury sedan.
The new 2011 Mulsanne is a fast, luxurious, four-door sedan that hides a fair amount of modern technology inconspicuously within a classic recipe. In the words of Stuart McCullough, Bentley's board member for sales and marketing, the 2011 Mulsanne is "a big, heavy car, and unashamedly so."
It provides drivers with a "stately, dominant feeling," and it is meant to rule the category of ultra-luxurious four-door sedans. But it does so quietly, in a slightly understated way. As the Brits would say, the Mulsanne isn't flash. It's just big, and handcrafted.
That makes it entirely different in spirit and presentation from such new entries as the Porsche Panamera and Aston-Martin Rapide.
Bentley have been building cars like this since the 1920s, and existing Arnage owners were quite clear that they wanted a Bentley that maintained the traditional values- a huge low-revving V-8 engine providing a "wave of torque" in a hand-built four-door car with an interior crafted of woods, leathers, and metals-and were willing to pay for it.
The U.S. price starts at $285,000, plus a $2,595 delivery fee--and options will add up quickly.
Only 800 Mulsannes can be built each year at full production. That compares to several thousand of the more modern Continental series, with its turbocharged W-12 engine and all-wheel-drive.