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First look: Bentley Mulsanne emerges in Monterey

Beach beauty: The new Bentley flagship, the Mulsanne, was unveiled at Pebble Beach.

All-new Bentley flagship debuts at Pebble Beach – and it will be called the Mulsanne

Bentley logo17 Aug 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

JUST as promised, Bentley revealed the all-new replacement for its flagship Arnage sedan – and its name – at the famed Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California, over the weekend.

Hitherto referred to as the New Grand Bentley in the company’s staggered reveal campaign, Bentley has now also confirmed the Arnage successor will revive the historic British brand’s Mulsanne nameplate, which it shares with the main straight of the Le Mans circuit that has played host to six Bentley wins.

To go on sale globally from mid-2010, Bentley Motors says the Mulsanne will be built on a completely new and unique platform in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Crewe, England.

Before now, only tight details shots of the Mulsanne’s clamshell-style bonnet and C-pillar have been revealed, but Bentley used the Pebble Beach extravaganza to unveil its redesigned top-shelf grand tourer in all its glory, alongside the car that inspired it – company founder WO Bentley’s “crowning achievement” in 1930, the 8-litre.

According to Bentley, the 8-litre was “the last big Bentley that was designed, engineered and built from the ground up by Bentley engineers – until now”.

The 8-litre displayed at Pebble Beach was first shown at the 1930 London motor show and, as only the second example to be built, became WO Bentley’s company car for two years. A total of 100 of the 100mph-plus 8-litres were built between 1930 and 1931.

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“The 8-litre’s breathtaking performance and quality was perhaps the finest example of a ‘pure’ grand Bentley,” said Bentley Motors board member for engineering, Dr Ulrich Eichhorn. “Every mechanical detail carried WO Bentley’s unique stamp and it was the clearest demonstration of a car built without compromise.

“The Mulsanne has been designed with exactly the same guiding principles, so it is entirely fitting that these Bentleys from different eras share the same stage.”

Chairman and chief executive of the Volkswagen-owned brand, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, revealed the Dirk van Braeckel-designed Mulsanne ahead of its appearance at next month’s Frankfurt motor show, where Bentley will provide “additional product information”.

“The challenge we set our engineers was to create a new grand Bentley that would stand as the pinnacle of British luxury motoring, offering the world’s most exclusive driving experience,” he said.

“They have responded to this challenge with real passion and the result is a luxury grand tourer that sets new standards in terms of comfort, effortless performance and hand-crafted refinement – the very qualities for which Bentley is renowned.

“From the very first hand sketches in the styling studio, we were inspired by the traditions of the grand touring Bentleys and have sought to evolve this story for a new generation of Bentley enthusiasts.”

Bentley’s direct rival for the likes of BMW’s Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Mercedes-Benz Maybach is expected to set new performance and dynamic benchmarks for the UK maker, and has been widely tipped to employ a relatively lightweight aluminium spaceframe chassis from sister brand Audi.

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