Previewed amid the suitably upscale environs of Pebble Beach, and making its public debut at the Frankfurt show, the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne replaces the brand's grande dame, the $232,085 Arnage.
Initially at least, the Mulsanne uses a single body style in lieu of the previous R, T, and RL configurations. The Mulsanne is longer and wider than the Arnage, with a 128.6-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 219.5 inches, for more legroom front and rear. Trunk volume increases from 13.2 to 14.7 cubic feet. Naturally, the Mulsanne architecture will later spawn successors to the Azure convertible and the Brooklands coupe.
Even though certain components are to be brought in, the Mulsanne is again very much a classic, Crewe-built Bentley. Special attention will be devoted to personalization schemes, which of course can include the superluxe Mulliner treatment. Bentley is positioning the Mulsanne as the driver's car among megabuck limousines and is offering a dynamics package, which includes sportier engine, exhaust, and transmission calibrations; different seats; and twenty-one-inch wheels. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect the Mulsanne to be even more expensive than the Arnage.
The all-new body is draped over an extensively modified platform, suspension, and driveline. Under the skin, the Mulsanne is twinned with the new Audi A8 wherever it makes sense: for instance, the MMI interface, the entire infotainment system, the brakes, the air suspension, and the shift-by-wire transmission. The familiar, 6.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 soldiers on (with 505 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque, slightly more than today's Arnage T), but with cylinder deactivation and a new eight-speed automatic. Fuel consumption will reportedly improve by about fifteen percent. Chassis refinements include available carbon-ceramic brake rotors, retuned steering, and standard twenty-inch wheels. At some 5650 pounds, the Mulsanne is no lightweight, but it is marginally less porky than the Arnage. The estimated 0-to-60-mph time should fall between today's Arnage T (5.2 seconds) and R (5.5). Thanks to the more slippery drag coefficient of 0.35, the top speed is expected to surpass both cars, reaching 185 mph.