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by Karl Peskett

Bentley’s replacement for the ageing Arnage is called the Mulsanne, and CarAdvice has just received all the information on this four-door flagship which is going to give Rolls-Royce a headache.

Bentley’s coachbuilding skills are given a rolling display with the Mulsanne, which, incidentally, is named after Mulsanne corner. It comes right after the long straight at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, in which Bentley has claimed six victories, and so the Mulsanne echoes the sporting heritage of the brand.

To maintain that underlying sports feel, Bentley’s twin-turbo 6.75-litre V8 makes a triumphant return, but this time with a first for the ultra-luxury sector – cam phasing and variable displacement. It will now run on four cylinders when required, to cut down CO2 emissions, as well as fuel use; it’s now EU5 compliant, too.

But don’t think that it won’t be potent. With 377kW on tap, and maximum torque of 1020Nm, the big Bentley will thunder from 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds, and on to a top speed of 296km/h. But the most amazing part is when the torque is peaked – at just 1750rpm, which means you can breathe on the accelerator and you’ll be flying.

It’ll be smooth, too, with ZF’s new eight-speed automatic behind the engine. Riding on 20-inch wheels as standard (21-inchers are optional), it could be considered to have a harsh ride, but with Bentley’s air suspension and Continuous Damping Control (CDC) featuring  automatic ride height control which acts on both speed and load, it’ll maintain that magic carpet ride. It may be a 2585kg car, but it will also handle – all Bentleys do.

Steering weight comes in two settings, and through a new Drive Dynamics Control – a rotary switch in the centre console – you can choose between three ride settings (Bentley, Sport and Comfort), or tune in your own preferred ride comfort.

There’s a choice of 28 Mulsanne-specific colours, which are all hand applied and polished, as you’d expect. Soft-close doors also feature, with the interior being swathed in leather for almost every surface imaginable. Then there’s the choice of 24 different coloured hides, with single and duotone colour splits. Seatbelts also come in 23 different colours. Even the boot is trimmed in leather.

The glazing is infra-red reflective as well as sound-deadening, there are electric blinds for the rear side window and rear screen, and the infotainment system moves into the 21st Century, with DVD, two SD slots, iPod connectivity and a 60GB HDD.

Massaging seats are optional, as are mood lighting, radar based cruise control, personal emboidery to all headrests, and a myriad of customisable features.

One thing’s for sure, Bentley’s quality is second to none, so you’re going to get every dollar’s worth from your Mulsanne. Of course, we won’t know how many dollars will be required to purchase this awesome machine until later on this year.

Bentley tells us to expect the Mulsanne early next year, along with the Continental Supersports Convertible. 2011 is looking to be a great year.




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