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Geneva show: Bentley adds stretch Mulsanne

Room to move: The new Bentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase offers “first-class air-travel experience for the road”.

Long-wheelbase limo joins Bentley Mulsanne range in facelift due out in mid-2016


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24 Feb 2016

BENTLEY Motors is going after a chunk of rival Rolls-Royce’s action with a new extended-wheelbase limo version of its facelifted Mulsanne flagship sedan.

The stretched variant, which will be offered with a super-spacious two-seat rear cabin or four-seat face-to-face arrangement for executive meetings on the move, will be unveiled at next week’s Geneva motor show ahead of the updated model’s global roll-out, including Australia, later this year.

Until now, the Mulsanne was made on a single regular wheelbase, in Mulsanne and high-performance Mulsanne Speed specifications.

Fellow British luxury limo-maker Rolls-Royce already offers its Phantom with an extended-wheelbase alternative for those who feel the standard car has insufficient acreage.

Ironically, Rolls-Royce today announced last drinks for the current Phantom, saying it will discontinue production this year ahead of the roll-out of an all-new generation in 2018.

Apart from a smooth new look, latest technologies and, of course, the additional stretched variant, the latest Mulsanne gets a more refined air suspension system that the Volkswagen-owned Bentley modestly claims delivers “the world’s most refined ride and effortless comfort”.

This smooth operation is further enhanced with new active engine mounts and suspension bushes, plus new noise-absorbing tyres that, combined, cut cabin noise by up to four decibels.

The powertrain – a big 6.8-litre V8 driving the rear wheels via ZF’s ubiquitous eight-speed automatic transmission – remains unchanged, either on the standard Mulsanne, in which it develops 377kW of power and 1020Nm of torque, or the twin-turbo Speed with its 395kW and 1100Nm.

Acceleration from zero to 100km/h remains at 5.3 seconds for the Mulsanne and 4.9 seconds for the Speed. Top speed for the Speed is 305km/h.

Bentley chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Dürheimer said the Mulsanne was the epitome of Bentley’s DNA – “exquisite, individual and powerful”.

“It defines luxury in the automotive world and offers a uniquely Bentley blend of luxury and performance,” he said.

“The three distinct hand-crafted models now available each offer customers something different. The Mulsanne, with its understated elegance and sporting purpose, remains the consummate luxury limousine the Mulsanne Speed is the pinnacle of luxury and performance thanks to its immense power, torque and refinement and now the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase – with its extraordinary airline-style seats and rear-passenger bias – becomes the new benchmark in automotive comfort.”

The extended wheelbase version sits on a wheelbase stretched 250mm, to 3516mm, with all of that extra space afforded to the rear seat.

With two rear seats, each passenger gets an aircraft-style folding leg-rest. A centre console contains USB ports, penholders, cupholders and a glass-covered stowage area.

Customers can choose between walnut, cherry or oak woods in a choice of 13 different trims. The leather seats can be had in a choice of 24 hide colours in single or duo-tone styles with a fluted or quilted pattern.

The Mulsanne’s massive chrome grille is more imposing than before, gaining an extra 80mm in width in what Bentley claims is a nod to great models of the past, such as the 8 Litre of 1930.

The rounded headlamps are now all LED and gain adaptive technology for automated dipping and high-beam switching. The outer driving lights that were formerly mounted low in the leading edge of the front mudguards have been moved up to beside the headlamps.

A new bumper design is 26mm wider at the bottom edge. At the back, new tail-lights incorporate a ‘B’ theme.

A new infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen connects to a 60GB hard drive for on-board media storage.

In the back seat, a pair of 10.2-inch tablets integrated into the backs of the front seats can be used to connect to the internet via the car’s 4G WiFi, either on board the car or elsewhere.

The alloy wheels are 20 inches on the Mulsanne, moving up to 21 inch on the Speed. The Speed also gets dark-tint chrome exterior trim and a special exhaust pipe tip.

Hand-crafted at the Bentley factory in Crewe, each car takes a claimed 400 hours to build.

No pricing has been announced for the new Mulsanne range in Australia.

Currently, the Mulsanne goes for $662,858 plus on-road costs, and the Speed for $733,387.

Rolls-Royce only gives driveaway pricing for its Phantom, which starts at $855,000 for the standard Phantom and $990,000 for the Extended Wheelbase.

In Australia, Bentley is the number one marque in its class, selling 158 cars in 2015 – up 17 per cent on 2014. This compares with Rolls-Royce’s 30 units, down 23 per cent.

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