Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Introducing the Bentley Mulsanne. The official Rolls Royce Phantom-killer

It's an all-new Bentley, it's called the Mulsanne, and it's a vehicle that more than a few auto aficionados have been waiting for. Introduced this afternoon at Pebble Beach, the Mulsanne is a clean sheet redesign of Bentley's ever-enduring flagship and according to Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen, when they sat down to figure out everything they wanted to change on the Arnage, by the time they were finished, nearly nothing remained.

The Mulsanne is about eleven inches longer than the Flying Spur and rides on a new, bespoke chassis that sits so low on its wheels you can barely get a finger between the top of the front tire and the wheel well. The swelling line of the rear-quarter panel is reminiscent of the Brooklands. However, we were told that since Bentley had a good idea of what the Mulsanne was going to be when they were designing the Brooklands, they incorporated features that became aesthetic stepping stones to the Mulsanne.

The headlight arrangement is an homage to the historic 8-liter Bentleys from the brand's pre-Rolls-Royce days, that had their smaller lamps mounted slightly outboard from the mains. The central headlight element is ringed by daytime-running-light LEDs – when you see the car coming at you, it'll be unmistakable. In back, the taillight treatment is Continental series, but if you step away, it doesn't look like a Continental at all; the mass is broken up by gentle curves and accent planes. And get a load of that C-pillar...

Inside, the overhaul continues. Gone are the mid-century ergonomics and design of the Arnage, replaced by a cabin that showcases chrome-accented dials and modern switchgear -- like a joystick controller for the screen – among a forest of wood. Oh, and a brand new steering wheel. Rolls Royce Phantom eat your heart out!

After marking its highly anticipated debut at Pebble Beach, it was straight off to the auction block for the all-new Bentley Mulsanne. Gooding opened the bids for Mulsanne #1 at $500,000, but after receiving no bids at that price, bidding quickly stepped down to $300k, only to climb back up to the half-million mark where it sold to an undisclosed collector over the phone.