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Bentley Mulsanne: new flagship for mid 2010

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Bentley Mulsanne: front view.

The front is dominated by the traditional Bentley matrix grille.

15 Sep. 2009 - Unveiled last month at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California, USA, the new Bentley Mulsanne is making its European appearance now at the 2009 IAA Frankfurt motor show (public days from 17 to 27 September) in Germany, home of Bentley Motors' parent company, the VW group.

Designed and engineered at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe, England, the new Mulsanne’s mission is to be a new flagship Bentley, a pinnacle of British luxury motoring, when it goes on sale from mid 2010.

Bentley Mulsanne: front side view.

Complex form of the aluminium front wings, with superforming.

The return of the Mulsanne name underlines Bentley's sporting heritage, still reflected in the famous Mulsanne corner at the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race that Bentley has won on six occasions.

 Design

The front is dominated by the traditional Bentley matrix grille and highly prominent, classic 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.

Bentley Mulsanne: rear side view.

The Mulsanne name underlines Bentley's sporting heritage.

A sense of powerful movement is conveyed through the long bonnet, short front overhang and long rear overhang, all reinforced by muscular haunches and sharply sculptured lines which flow from the front wings to the rear, over 20-inch wheels (or optional 21-inch).

Design Director Dirk van Braeckel summarized the designed saying: "The team set out to create a sculpted form that blended classic Bentley heritage cues with modern lines that allow the marque to stride confidently into the 21st century".

Bentley Mulsanne: side view from top.

The rear screen is fully enveloped by the coachwork.

The body is produced in a new manufacturing facility at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe where traditional metalworking skills, developed over six decades, are still used during the nine-week build process.

The rear screen is fully enveloped by the coachwork, providing a flowing line to the rear of the car, complementing the D-pillars. All spot welds are performed by hand during the Mulsanne’s construction and all panel joints are hand-brazed.

Bentley Mulsanne: side view.

Powerful movement through a long bonnet, short front overhang and long rear overhang, all reinforced by muscular haunches.

Unfeasible with normal pressing techniques, the complex form of the aluminium front wings is achieved using superforming, a hot forming process in which a sheet of aluminium is heated to 450 to 500 degrees centigrade and then forced onto or into a single surface tool to create a complex three dimensional shape from a single sheet.

Usually reserved for the aerospace industry, superforming also makes the wings lighter and stiffer, with exceptional surface definition. Other lightweight materials include the composite boot lid.

Bentley Mulsanne: headlight detail view.

Classic inner headlamp flanked by an outboard lamp clusters.

New construction techniques meant the designers could also incorporate details such as the ‘floating’ elliptical LED tail lights, which echo the shape of the exhaust tailpipes.

Bentley also claims to be the only manufacturer in the world to feature in the Mulsanne ‘brightware’ exclusively in polished stainless steel, including sill tread plates and matrix grilles. The stainless steel door handles also incorporate the traditional Bentley ‘knurling’ to their inboard surface for enhanced grip.

The sporting character of the Mulsanne is reinforced by front wing vents and large diameter tailpipe finishers.

 Interior

Bentley Mulsanne: tail light and boot lid view.

Composite boot lid and ‘floating’ elliptical LED tail lights.

To get inside, a personalised keyless entry system allows multiple pre-programmed configurations and automatically sets radio stations, phone book, seat (including ventilation and massage modes, both front and rear), steering column and seatbelt settings and even the electrically operated rear-seat blinds for side and rear windows.

As a world-first, the keyless system operates with the stainless steel door handles which incorporate touch points to initiate communication with the key for verification and entry. The Mulsanne also features keyless start, via the stop/start button on the centre console.

Bentley Mulsanne: dashboard, console and front seats view.

Over 170 hours, almost half the entire build process, goes into crafting the interior of the new Mulsanne.

Head of Interior Design, Robin Page says: "Over 170 hours – almost half the entire build process – goes into crafting the interior of the new Mulsanne."

The cabin is encased within a ‘ring of wood’ waistrail with an unbroken panel of wood for the dashboard. Inverted dial needles within the instrument cluster are evocative of early Bentleys while the entire dashboard and console design is a reminder of the Bentley wings motif.

Bentley Mulsanne: dashboard and console side view.

A wide range of premium quality veneers.

Customers may select from a range of premium quality veneers, unbleached for a natural appearance, two marquetry options (picture frame and contemporary crossbanding) in addition to a large palette of leather hides, including 24 ‘standard’ colours, of which three are new for Bentley.

Available in a range of colours to complement each individual hide, the carpet of the Mulsanne is unique to Bentley, its increased fibre depth, density and feel enhancing cabin quality. Pure wool, deep pile Wilton-weave over mats add a further touch of comfort and luxury.

Bentley Mulsanne: cabin side view.

The cabin is encased within a ‘ring of wood’ waistrail.

These materials are fashioned by craftsmen and women with up to 40 years’ experience. Each steering wheel, for example, can take 15 hours to hand-stitch (and three times longer if the customer opts for cross-stitching). Stainless steel brightware gleams so perfectly thanks to an intensive 10-hour finishing process. A wood veneer takes two weeks to turn from a rough root ball into a full set of mirror-matched, fine-polished leaves.

 Multimedia

Bentley Mulsanne: steering wheel and console view.

Multimedia system with 40 GB hard disc for satellite navigation, audio/video, personal data, telephone and Bluetooth connectivity.

On the communication side, a multimedia system with 40 GB hard disc drives satellite navigation, audio/video, personal data, telephone and Bluetooth connectivity.

The upper dashboard houses an 8-inch multimedia screen, positioned behind an electrically operated veneered door, while below sits a leather-lined MP3-player stowage drawer.

A 14-speaker audio system with Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and 6-CD autochanger is provided as standard while the Naim for Bentley premium audio system may be specified as an option. This forging of two British luxury brands provides a 2200 Watt in-car amplifier, eight dedicated DSP modes and 20 custom-made speakers.

 Engine

Bentley Mulsanne: rear seats view.

Large palette of leather hides, including 24 ‘standard’ colours.

As far as the powertrain is concerned, Bentley engineers targeted three objectives for the Mulsanne: effortless torque from very low revs, very high levels of refinement and strict compliance to current and future environmental standards through improved engine efficiency.

These goals were met with a totally revised version of the 6¾-litre V8 engine. For the Mulsanne, all the major building blocks of the engine are re-engineered to integrate the latest technologies.

2011 Bentley Mulsanne
Provisional Technical Specification

Engine type

Twin-turbocharged V8

Installation

Front, longitudinal

Construction Alloy heads and block
Capacity 6750cc
Output 377kW / 512PS / 505bhp
Specific output 55.85kW/L, 74.81bhp/L
Torque 1020Nm / 752 lb ft

Drive type

Rear-wheel drive

Gearbox

ZF 8-Speed automatic

Body length

5562mm (219.49in)

Wheelbase 3266mm (128.60in)
Body width

1926mm (75.80in)

Body height

1526mm (60.01in)

Front track

1605mm (63.20in)

Rear track

1651mm (65.00in)

Wheels/tyres (standard)

9Jx20in., 265/45ZR20 tyres

Wheels / tyres (option)

9Jx21in., 265/40ZR21 tyres

Source: Bentley Motors.

To achieve these targets, with a significant reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, the Mulsanne V8 sees the introduction of two new control systems:

1 - cam phasing to adjust the V8’s breathing for improved engine idle quality and torque delivery,

2 - variable displacement, by closing the valves of four of the eight cylinders for maximum fuel economy when full power is not needed while cruising.

In the same time, new lightweight components like pistons, connecting rods and forged crankshaft reduce reciprocating mass and internal friction for improved engine response.

The 6¾-litre V8 develops in the new Mulsanne 377 kW (512 PS, 505 bhp) while the massive torque (1020Nm / 752 lb ft) is now delivered earlier than before, at 1800 rev/min.

The new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission comes, for the first time on a flagship Bentley, with steering-wheel mounted gearshift.

Bentley Mulsanne: Inverted rpm dial needle.

Inverted dial needles are evocative of early Bentleys.

Bentley says that overall, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are reduced by more than 15 percent, in line with its own environmental commitment.

 Chassis

The all-new chassis, unique to the new Mulsanne, is both lighter and stiffer than previous flagship Bentleys.

A new Drive Dynamics Control system operated by a rotary switch mounted next to the gearshift selector, can be used to select from three standard calibration modes of suspension and steering control systems: Bentley, Sport and Comfort.

A fourth mode, ‘Custom’, allows the driver to select bespoke settings via the multimedia system to ‘tune’ the Mulsanne to a preferred driving style.

A new air suspension system with continuously variable dampers provides an even more refined and comfortable ride at lower speeds, while reducing the ride height automatically at high speeds to reduce lift and improve aerodynamic stability.

The standard 20-inch alloy wheels with 265/45 ZR 20 tyres, can be replaced with 21-inch wheels, available in two styles, with 265/40 ZR 21 tyres.

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