Fabulous Mulsanne sets bar high

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 May, 2010, 12:00am

With the launch of its new flagship Mulsanne, Bentley has set a new standard in the premium luxury segment.

The Mulsanne is not just a replacement for the Arnage, it's a fresh design, the first all-new Bentley in 80 years and nothing on the car's exterior is shared with any other Bentley apart from the door mirrors from the Continental.

It is a car of superlatives: it takes three months to build, almost entirely by hand, with 170 hours spent on the interior alone. Its 6.75-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine pumps out a crushing 1,020 Nm of torque, the highest of any production saloon, and its Naim sound system features 20 speakers and a thumping 2,200 watts, again, a world first.

Built at Bentley's new factory in Crewe, England, this is a handsome, stately car.

Its design echoes the classic Bentley S-Type of the 1950s and 1960s, with its matrix grille, classic round headlights, distinctive front wings, long bonnet, short front-overhang, long rear-overhang and flowing sporty lines.

Inside is everything one would expect from the flagship Bentley. Hand-crafted and hand-stitched leather, and mirror-matched wood veneers abound, along with hand-finished stainless steel trim and traditional instrumentation. The Mulsanne has an all-new chassis that is lighter and stiffer than previous versions, while the engine has been completely reworked for improved fuel economy and emissions.

Douglas Chau, general manager at Bentley Hong Kong, says the brand's cars are unique. 'We do not compete with any other models in the marketplace,' he says. 'We feel that the Mulsanne is a unique product and we want to create our own market niche at the pinnacle of the premium luxury sector.'

Bentley is so proud of the home-grown nature of the Mulsanne that it has termed it 'Pure Bentley'.

'There are many facets to 'Pure Bentley'. To me, it is the fact that, for the first time since the Bentley 8-litre of 1930, the original design and manufacture have taken place at our home in Crewe,' Chau says. 'Under Volkswagen's stewardship, Bentley has been growing at a fantastic pace. Our sales volume in Hong Kong has been on a steep rising curve since 2005. We reached a peak in 2008, suffered ever so slightly in 2009, and are set to resume on the upward curve in 2010. With the introduction of the Mulsanne, I am sure sales will only rise.'

With the launch of the Continental Supersports model last year, Bentley introduced engines that run on 85 per cent ethanol fuel, or E85.

'While Bentley will always stick to its five pillars - design, power, craftsmanship, driving and racing - we retain our commitment to environmental responsibility. By 2012, the V8 in the Mulsanne will be compatible with the E85, so the entire Bentley range will have engines capable of running on this environmentally friendly fuel,' Chau says.

While the Mulsanne pays respect to the past, it's also a thoroughly modern luxury car. Deliveries are expected in Hong Kong in the first quarter of next year. The starting price is HK$5.6 million.