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Future models - Bentley - Mulsanne - Grand Limousine

Geneva show: Bentley stretches Mulsanne more

Jet set: Bentley says the interior of its Mulsanne Grand Limousine mimics the layout of elite private aeroplanes.

Mulliner modifications turn Bentley Mulsanne into six-seater Grand Limousine

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Bentley logo2 Mar 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

BENTLEY has followed the unveiling of 250mm-stretched Mulsanne with a second even longer-wheelbase model that adds a whole meter to its overall length, freeing up enough space for a third row of seats.

While the modestly extended variant will be available as a list item, the six-seater Mulsanne Grand Limousine is the work of Bentley's bespoke coach-builder Mulliner and is strictly a built-to-order option.

The Grand Limousine was revealed at the Geneva motor show alongside the more orthodox long-wheelbase Mulsanne, showing off its generous 4266mm wheelbase – long enough to accommodate the entire length of a Toyota 86 between its axles.

Unlike the three rows of seats fitted to many large SUVs on the market, Bentley rotated the second row to face occupants at the rear of the car, allowing more natural interaction or perhaps a business meeting.

The “private-aviation-style” cabin is also 79mm taller than the 'standard' Mulsanne and can be sealed off from prying eyes with the company's first application of electrochromic 'smart glass' which turns from clear to opaque at the touch of a button.

Bentley is not saying who the ultra-exclusive Grand Limousine was commissioned by or how much they were asked to pay for it, but the finished car would certainly carry a significantly higher price tag than the current Mulsanne Speed flagship, which sells for $733,387 in Australia.

The ultra-luxury British car-maker says the unique model is the result of a brief that aimed to create a vehicle with four seats of equal comfort. Each seat is upholstered in “sumptuous” leather and passengers seated in the rear row can read the local time, as well as UK time and exterior temperature with a bank of three dials set in rich burr walnut veneer.

Mulliner's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system was developed specifically for the larger interior space, while comfort is further increased by fold-out tables in matching veneer, device charging stations, bottle cooler and even a drinks cabinet complete with bespoke tumblers.

Monitors mounted in the deeply quilted ceiling fold-down to provide entertainment and information for occupants in either row and an intercom allows passengers to communicate with the driver in the front row.

Bentley says that only the finest materials were used in the modification of the Mulsanne, including the two-tone Silver Frost and Moroccan Blue exterior paint combination, which matches the 21-inch alloy wheels.

With the extra length, materials and equipment, the big Bentley weighs significantly more than a standard Mulsanne, but the suspension, drivetrain and chassis has been re-engineered as part of the transformation to ensure “the highest possible degree of passenger comfort and safety”.

The most creative and meticulous wing of Bentley's craftsmanship says “anything is possible” and that “any type of personalisation can be undertaken to create a unique Bentley of individual taste. Whatever a customer desires, highly skilled and dedicated craftspeople – supported by the vast styling and engineering experience of Bentley – take a customer’s vision and turn it into reality”.

Provided the customer can pay, of course.

Perhaps the only vehicle that can come close to the seating layout of the Grand Limousine is a version of the Mercedes Sprinter van, which was converted into the Business Lounge by Benz tuner Brabus.

That car had four face-to-face seats, a 42-inch LCD screen, power-operated curtains, individual 10-inch screens and a coffee machine.

Not wishing Bentley to take all the attention at this year's show, arch rival Rolls-Royce also put in an appearance with a version of its Ghost and Wraith dubbed the Black Badge, that targets a younger audience for the brand.

The special editions of the company's large luxury sedan and coupe take the recipe of 6.6-litre V12 and four hyper-luxury seats, and add to it a variety of high-tech and eye-catching materials and trims.

Carbon-fibre with fine aluminium threads woven into the structure adorns interior surfaces, and a unique Black Badge clock has orange-tipped hands, while black leather is combined with vivid Tailored Purple hide in the Ghost version or Cobalto Blue in the Wraith Black Badge.

Just the Black Badge wheels alone are the stuff of fantasy, with spokes made from carbon-fibre, which are then fixed and bonded with titanium fasteners to an aircraft-grade aluminium hub.

Exteriors for both cars are – you guessed it – black, but ordinary black would not do for a Rolls, and the multiple layers of Black Badge paint “are repeatedly hand polished – the most exacting painting and polishing process ever used for a solid paint colour. The result is the deepest, darkest and most intense black ever seen on a production car surface”.

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