It may not have won "Best in Show," but without a doubt, the new 2011 Bentley Mulsanne was one of the most important cars on display at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
In celebration of its 90th anniversary, Bentley used the Pebble Beach show to unwrap its latest flagship. Named after the straight at Le Mans (and previously used on a performance Bentley in the 1980s), the Mulsanne serves as a formal replacement for Bentley's aging Arnage.
"The challenge we set our engineers was to create a new grand Bentley that would stand as the pinnacle of British luxury motoring," said Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors. "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."Certainly, it also marks one of the biggest changes to a large Bentley in some time. Although the front fascia somewhat evokes the prior Arnage, it's markedly different, sporting a wide grille and large high-intensity discharge headlamps. Perhaps most dramatic are the Mulsanne's rear haunches, which flow beautifully into the rear bumper fascia.
Bentley is refraining from discussing the Mulsanne's specifics until the 2009 Frankfurt motor show in September, but we'd expect quite a number of changes underneath the skin. Bentley has repeatedly said that no part of the Arnage carried into the new car, and that the venerable 6.75-liter V-8 is being shown the door.Although details are fleeting, that hasn't curtailed interest. The first Mulsanne was auctioned over the weekend for $500,000, with all proceeds going to the Pebble Beach Charity.