The iconic British brand’s new flagship arrives late next year with more than 100 exterior colour options, 24 recommended two-tone combinations and a host of exterior chrome trims.
Bentley product manager Hans Holzgartner said that inside there was even more choice with 24 leather trim colours, five coloured leather pipings, nine wood veneers, even 23 seat belt colours plus a range of optional extras such as cross or contrast stitching and extra Bentley ‘wing’ badges. “Someone actually did the calculations and came up with a figure of more than a trillion combinations,” he said.
However, there is only one engine and one transmission. The Mulsanne, named after a 1980s model and the notorious high-speed straight at Le Mans, will be powered by a lightweight aluminium 6.75-litre V8 with multi-displacement so it can cruise on just four cylinders. “Why a V8, we have been asked,” Holzgartner says. “We didn’t need the car to be any faster but we did want it to be more fun to drive and accelerate harder so we went for more torque for more strength at slow speed.’’
He says the engine is the ‘strongest production V8’ on the market with 1020Nm of torque from just 1600rpm. The V8 is married to an eight-speed auto/manual transmission that can short shift and skip gears changing up or down to achieve a smooth drive, performance and efficiency. Bentley claims the engine and transmission combine to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by more than 15 per cent.
Asia Pacific marketing manager James Barclay said the Mulsanne would arrive in Australia in the last quarter of next year and cost ‘more than the current top of the fleet’ which means more than the $744,132 Bentley Azure two-door convertible. The new Mulsanne is 150mm longer than the Arnage with all of that extra length in the wheelbase to provide more interior space.
Despite the 23kg lighter engine, 10kg lighter gearbox and use of aluminium in all panels except the steel roof and polymer boot, Holzgartner says the vehicle would weigh much the same as the Arnage because of the extra interior features. “Even the carpet is thicker to provide a feeling of quality,” he says.
Price: about $750,000
On sale: late 2010
Engine: twin-turbocharged, 6750cc, alloy V8 with variable displacement
Transmission: ZF 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive DIMENSIONS (mm): 5562 (l), 1926 (w), 1526 (h), 3266 (wheelbase)
Rolls-Royce Phantom 6.8L ($107,500)
BMW 760Li 6.0L ($386,000)
Mercedes-Benz 6.3L 63 AMG ($371,400) and 6.0L 65 AMG ($477,400).