The 2011 Bentley Mulsanne

Worthy competitor to the Phantom, Bentley’s own Mulsanne had its world debut at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours back in August and still has luxury owners drooling on their dashboard. Bentley made no veiled references to challenge Rolls Royce with their new sedan, however that was then, now they’re outright saying the Mulsanne is the “pinnacle” of luxury vehicles.

Such an imposing car requires an equally impressive power train and thankfully Bentley’s engineers didn’t disappoint. Power in the Mulsanne comes from a totally revised version of the automaker’s 6.75-liter V-8 engine, which has been updated with cam phasing and variable displacement technologies to help reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Its ‘power-on-demand’ system simply closes the valves of four of the eight cylinders for maximum fuel economy when cruising, and uniquely designed 20-inch wheels (and optional 21-inch) reinforce the Mulsanne’s powerful, sporting stance.

Complementing the new powertrain is an all-new chassis, new Drive Dynamics Control system, and new air suspension system with continuously variable dampers, all unique to the new Mulsanne. The result is a healthy 505 horsepower and a massive 752 pound-feet of torque, the latter delivered at just 1,800 rpm. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission equipped with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Bentley’s Mulsanne raises heads, as it is an overdue and welcomed addition to the Bentley stable.

The design’s a blend of a traditional silhouette with some modern detailing, less so than the smaller Continental range. Envisioning the Bentley S -Type of the 1950s, the Mulsanne features a bold frontal design dominated by the traditional Bentley matrix grille and highly prominent round inner headlamps with chrome surrounds, flanked by two smaller outboard lamp clusters. The iconic ‘Flying B’ retractable radiator mascot is available as an option, but who wouldn’t want the stylish B heading the anti-recess vehicle.

The Mulsanne, named for it’s 90-degree turn at Le Mans, arrives with the striped flag waving, in the middle of next year with a price tag likely approaching $300,000, before any custom finishes or materials are specified.

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