2011 Bentley Mulsanne
With the all-new 2011 Bentley Mulsanne, there's reason to believe that Bentley has a little grudge against its former sibling Rolls-Royce. Since its debut back in 2009, Bentley has made no veiled references to challenging Rolls-Royce's Phantom with its flagship sedan, going so far as to label it the "pinnacle" of luxury cars.
With a heady 505 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque being delivered by its twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V-8 engine, plus an overall length of 219 inches, the Mulsanne is a monster of a car. Bentley admits that it’s "a big, heavy car, and unashamedly so." And yet it's slightly understated. It isn't flashy--it's just big, and exceptionally well-crafted.
Drive is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF transmission. When pushed, the engine noise is a muted roar, and the Mulsanne gathers speed swiftly but almost discreetly. With all 752 pound-feet of torque coming from as early as 1,800 rpm, acceleration is nothing short of amazing. The big Bentley will rocket from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and pass the 100 mph mark in less than 12 seconds. Not that you’d ever want to take it to its top speed but if you need to know, the Mulsanne will top out at a supercar like 184 mph.
Named for the 90 degree turn at Le Mans, the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne will set you back a cool $285,000. However, this is before any of the car’s lavish options are ticked. Bentley will be offering customers a palette of 114 paint colors, 21 carpet colors, nine wood veneers and 24 interior leather hides. In fact, with more standard leather and wood veneer than any other Bentley in the modern era, the Mulsanne will take nine weeks to build. That’s ok as exclusivity is the name of the game and in the case of the Mulsanne, only 800 examples will painstakingly be built each year.
Inside, the Mulsanne is traditional Bentley, discreetly updated. A ring of wood sweeps from the dashboard along the waist rails of the doors and behind the rear seats, while leather covers virtually every surface except the thickly carpeted floors. Each car requires 18 or 19 complete cow hides. Contrasting stitching and piping are available, and the combination of exterior and interior colors seems limitless.
Amenities include a multimedia system with a 40 GB hard disc drive that incorporates the satellite navigation, audio/video, personal data, telephone, eight inch touchscreen display and Bluetooth connectivity. A 14-speaker stereo system is fitted as standard but a 20-speaker Naim system is offered as an option.
For a detailed look at the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne, click here for our extensive first drive report.