This is the Bentley Arnage replacement, the Bentley Mulsanne, which was seen at the Frankfurt motor show.
The Mulsanne is described by Bentley as “neither an evolution or revision of Arnage.” It is a clean sheet design, and nothing on the car’s exterior is shared with any other Bentley apart from the door mirror, which comes from the ethanol-powered SuperSports.
Every panel is unique to the Mulsanne – even the door handles have been developed for the car – and it features many handmade parts, including the fillet of metal below the rear window, constructed from three pieces of metal and brazed by hand.
Underneath the Mulsanne is a platform developed specifically for this car. Bentley chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said that when he first started looking at replacing the Arnage, he realised that the car "needed change," and that new platform would be needed.
Bentley’s head of exterior design Raul Piris said this allowed them to produce a car that looks expensive, and more modern than the Arnage.
“The Mulsanne combines the technological feel of the Continental models with the prestige of the Arnage,” he said. “But we wanted to preserve the Arnage’s exclusivity, and avoid duplicating the Continental’s look. The Mulsanne needs to express a higher level of a coachbuilt look, and be more bespoke.”
Each will take 400 hours to build – 15 per cent longer than the Arnage – and hand building takes 200 of those hours.
The unusual quad headlamps are a further development of the round headlamp theme that has featured on every Bentley built in the firms’ 90-year history. They are, according to Piris, inspired by the lighting arrangement from the 1955 Continental Flying Spur S1.
Under the bonnet is a heavily updated version of the Arnage’s L-series 6.75-litre V8, which can trace its origins back to the firm’s first V8 from 1959. The twin-turbo unit puts out 505bhp and 752lb ft of torque, and is linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine also has improved torque delivery, with much more available lower down the rev range.
Bentley’s engineers have made many changes to the engine to make it suitable for the car and to pass modern emissions legislation.
Lighter, more efficient components such as the water pump and many new internal components (inlcuding cam phasing and variable displacement) help to cut the engine’s mass and improve fuel consumption by 15 per cent.
Bentley sources say that is will be good for nearly 180mph.
Suspension is by air springs all round and the car rides on 265/40 Pirelli P Zeros mounted on 20-inch wheels as standard, although 21-inch options are expected to take the bulk of the sales. Carbon ceramic brakes with eight piston calipers are also an option.
A new Drive Dynamics Control system also features, allowing the driver to select three driving modes - 'Bentley', 'Sport' and 'Comfort'. Drivers can also save their own custom settings.
The keyless entry system also allows the driver to pre-set radio stations, their phone book, plus seat, seatbelt and steering wheel settings.
Once the Mulsanne has been launched, expect a long-wheelbase variant to go on sale, with another 15cm added to the wheelbase. Design director Dirk van Braekel said he would like to do a coupe and a cabriolet Mulsanne in the future
Bentley is planning to sell around 700 Mulsannes a year, priced at around £200,000. The car will go on sale next year.