Building the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne's interiorEnlarge Photo
In a tour of the Bentley works at Crewe, the company's craftsmen pointed out one of many notable differences between the two cars: the burl veneers on the Continental's interior panels sit atop a complicated substrate of aluminum and insulation. In the Mulsanne, the veneers-a buyer can choose from nine-are bonded directly to solid oak, maple, or cherry, just as it was done 80 years ago.
We spent half a day touring the Bentley works at Crewe, England, and then a day driving the new Mulsanne through the Scottish countryside amid an onslaught of bugs so severe that at times it sounded like rain against the windshield.
Our car was painted in Broadgar--described as a "warm gray" by senior exterior designer Crispin Marshfield--with Linen (a tasteful pale gray beige) for the main hides and Highland Hare (a dark gray) for the secondary hides, dashtop surfaces, and carpets.
The color names alone convey a hint of the car's ambiance, don't they?
In the 2011 Mulsanne, Bentley's design chief Dirk van Braechel and his team have accomplished a remarkable visual trick. In photos, its classic proportions--long hood, short front overhang, low roofline, short trunk--look substantial, but similar to other full-size sedans.
It's only when it's parked next to other cars that it becomes clear how massive the Mulsanne really is.
At 18'3" long, 6'4" feet wide with the mirrors folded, and 5 feet high, its proportions perfectly represent the Bentley lineage. And even in person, it doesn't overpower you with its size when parked in front of, say, a 1000-year-old Scottish castle whose 80-foot-long dining room has 30-foot ceilings.