Bentley Mulsanne at Frankfurt
16th September, 2009
“The new Mulsanne is a thoroughly modern flagship that
captures the essence of the Bentley marque. It is elegant yet distinctly sporting in character, delivering
effortless performance while within its sumptuous cabin, advanced technology sits discretely with
handcrafted luxury.” commented Bentley Motors Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr. Franz-Josef
The new model is now on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show following its debut at the Pebble Beach
Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California, USA, last month.
While paying homage to past Bentley greats, the brief for the new Mulsanne’s design and engineering
teams was to design a Bentley that represents the pinnacle of British luxury motoring.
The new Mulsanne, designed and engineered at Crewe from the ground-up, reaffirms the marque’s intent to
provide a new flagship Bentley with refined performance, unparalleled levels of interior luxury and coach
building skills to the fore.
The return of the Mulsanne name underlines Bentley’s sporting heritage and passion for power and speed.
Nothing reflects that prowess better than the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours, a race that Bentley has won on
six occasions, where its powerful and reliable race cars thundered down the long Le Mans straight into
the famous Mulsanne corner, from which the new model takes its name.
An Australian arrival of Bentley's new
Mulsanne is expected in Q4 2010.
A pure expression of Bentley design
The design of the new Mulsanne is a unique fusion of sportiness, coachbuilt elegance and solidity.
Echoing the Bentley S-Type of the 1950s, the Mulsanne features a bold frontal design dominated by the
traditional Bentley matrix grille and highly prominent, classic round inner headlamps with chrome
surrounds, flanked by two, smaller outboard lamp clusters, all featuring the latest in lighting
technology. The iconic ‘Flying B’ retractable radiator mascot is available as an option.
The long bonnet, short front overhang and long rear overhang help to convey a sense of power and
movement, reinforced by 'muscular' haunches and sharply sculptured lines which flow gracefully from the
front guards to the rear. Uniquely designed 20-inch wheels (and optional 21-inch) reinforce the
Mulsanne’s powerful, sporting stance.
Design Director Dirk van Braeckel explains the inspiration behind the Mulsanne’s distinctive
appearance: “The opportunity to design a new flagship Bentley is something afforded to very few
designers. The team set out to create a sculpted form that blended classic Bentley heritage cues with
modern lines that allow the marque to stride confidently into the 21st century.”
The body is produced in a new manufacturing facility at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe where
traditional metalworking skills, developed over six decades, are still used extensively during the
nine-week build process. It is the very opposite of volume-production car-building… but the very epitome
The rear screen, for example is fully enveloped by the coachwork. This provides a flowing, flawless
line to the rear of the car, complementing the exquisitely formed D-pillars – whose complex curves can
only be provided by skilled coach-builders. All spot welds are performed by hand during the Mulsanne’s
construction and all panel joints are hand-brazed. These further enhance that ‘hewn from solid’
appearance and result in an extremely stiff body.
The complex form of the aluminium front guards, impossible to achieve with normal pressing
techniques, is designed using superforming, a technology usually reserved for the aerospace industry.
This also makes the guards both lighter, stiffer and provides superb surface definition. Other light
weight materials, such as the composite boot lid, are used to remove mass wherever possible without
New construction techniques meant the designers could also incorporate details such as the ‘floating’
elliptical LED tail lights, which uniquely echo the shape of the exhaust tailpipes.
To accentuate the beauty of the bodywork, the Mulsanne features ‘brightware’ exclusively in polished
stainless steel, including sill tread plates and matrix grilles. Bentley is the only manufacturer in
the world to do this. The stainless steel door handles also incorporate the traditional Bentley ‘
knurling’ to their inboard surface for enhanced grip, reflecting the company’s typical attention to
The sporting character of the Bentley Mulsanne is reinforced by front vents, large diameter tailpipe
finishers and a choice of 20-inch or 21-inch wheels.
Bentley customers have a world of infinite choice when commissioning their cars. There are 114 paint
colours in the range that include everything from unusual heritage colours, special satin and
pearlescent finishes and duo-tone combinations. But the choice does not end there. Through the bespoke
world of Bentley Mulliner, unique colours can exactly match a customer’s vision and taste.
Sumptuous interior meets advanced technology
The latest in-car technologies are discretely placed within the Bentley Mulsanne’s sumptuous interior.
A multimedia system with 40 GB hard disc drives satellite navigation, audio/video, personal data,
telephone and Bluetooth connectivity. The upper dashboard houses an 8-inch multimedia screen, positioned
unobtrusively behind an electrically operated veneered door, while below sits a stylish, leather-lined
MP3-player stowage drawer.
A state-of-the-art 14-speaker audio system with Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and 6-CD autochanger
is provided as standard while the Naim for Bentley premium audio system may be specified as an option.
This forging of two British luxury brands provides customers with the world’s most powerful 2,200 Watt,
in-car amplifier, eight dedicated DSP modes and 20 custom-made speakers, delivering an unparalleled
A personalised keyless entry system allows multiple pre-programmed configurations and automatically
sets radio stations, phone books, seat (including ventilation and massage modes, both front and rear),
steering column and seat belt settings and even the electrically operated rear-seat blinds for side and
rear windows. As a world-first, the keyless system operates with the stainless steel door handles which
incorporate touch points to initiate communication with the key for verification and entry. The Bentley
Mulsanne also features keyless start, having a stop/start button on the centre console.
The Bentley interior design team has continued to develop and evolve the luxurious interiors for
which their cars are renowned, based on a large-scale, research programme to identify the classic
signature features that have defined Bentleys from the 1920s to the present day.
Armed with this invaluable resource, the Mulsanne’s design team set itself highly challenging
targets for key interior characteristics such as material design, smell, colour harmony and
handcrafting. Similar targets were set for the operational refinement and robustness of all control
mechanisms. The result is a hand crafted interior that fully reflects traditional Bentley values,
executed to the highest possible standards, where customers may tailor their cars to their individual
As Head of Interior Design, Robin Page says: “Over 170 hours – almost half the entire build
process – goes into crafting the interior of the new Mulsanne. At Crewe, Bentley’s way of working is
the opposite of mass production – we start where others stop.”
The use of wood and leather hides has increased significantly to provide an even more refined
and luxurious cabin. While classic design features such as bulls-eye air vents (now also fitted in
the rear compartment), high-quality mirror-matched wood veneers, leather hides and hand-finished
stainless steel are retained, they are mixed with new touches such as beautiful glass switches.
The entire cabin is encased within a ‘ring of wood’ waist rail with an unbroken panel of wood
gracing the Mulsanne’s dashboard. Inverted dial needles within the instrument cluster are evocative
of early Bentleys while the entire dashboard and console design is a subtle reminder of the Bentley
Customers may select from an extensive range of premium quality veneers, unbleached for a natural
appearance, and two marquetry options: picture frame and contemporary cross
banding. True to the
Bentley ethos, customers may also select from a virtually unlimited palette of leather hides,
including 24 ‘standard’ colours, of which three are new for Bentley. This unrivalled choice of
veneers, leather hides and paint colours ensures that the needs of all customers can be matched
Following detailed customer feedback, a traditional tanning process has been re-instated to match
the rich, worn leather smell that is so evocative of vintage Bentleys. Only a very few hide
suppliers worldwide have the capability to do this.
The carpet of the Mulsanne is unique to Bentley, its increased fibre depth, density and feel
enhancing cabin quality. It is available in a range of colours to complement each individual hide.
Pure wool, deep pile Wilton-weave over mats add a further touch of comfort and luxury.
These exquisite materials are fashioned by craftsmen and women. Each steering wheel, for example,
can take 15 hours to hand-stitch (and three times longer if the customer opts for cross-stitching).
Stainless steel bright ware gleams so perfectly thanks to an intensive 10-hour finishing process. A
wood veneer takes two weeks to turn from a rough root ball into a full set of mirror-matched,
Re-engineered V8 engine and new chassis: power, refinement and efficiency
The Bentley powertrain engineers were set three objectives for the Mulsanne:
- To produce the effortless torque from extremely low revs that customers expect of a grand Bentley
- To maintain the highest levels of refinement
- To satisfy strict current and future environmental standards through improved engine efficiency
While other powertrain configurations were considered early on in the project, it soon became
clear that these targets could best be achieved with a totally revised version of the 6¾ litre V8
engine – the very configuration that had been used so successfully in the past. However, for the
new Mulsanne, all the major building blocks of the engine would be comprehensively re-engineered to
integrate the very latest technologies.
Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Bentley Motor’s Director of Engineering, explains the reasons behind the
Mulsanne’s V8: “Using our V8 guaranteed the immense power at low revs and unstressed performance
that are the hallmarks of a flagship Bentley. But we also set our engineers the challenge of
maintaining high levels of refinement at any speed and, equally important, improving efficiency.”
To achieve a significant reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, the Mulsanne V8 sees the
introduction of two new control systems: cam phasing and, a first for the ultra-luxury sector, variable
The pioneering use of these two technologies in combination allows the Mulsanne’s engine management
system not only to adjust the V8’s breathing for improved engine idle quality and torque delivery, but
also to close the valves of four of the eight cylinders for maximum fuel economy when cruising.
New light weight componentry including pistons, connecting rods and forged crankshaft reduce
reciprocating mass and internal friction for improved engine response.
In the new Mulsanne, the 6¾ litre V8 develops 377 kW (505 bhp/512 PS) while the massive torque
(1,020 Nm/752 lb ft) is now delivered even earlier at 1,800 rev/min. This dramatic improvement in
torque delivery from just above idle and right across the rev range ensures that with a mere tap of
the accelerator the driver is immediately rewarded with that characteristic deep, muffled V8 burble
and phenomenal acceleration.
These new technologies are complemented by the new eight-speed automatic transmission which, for
the first time on a flagship Bentley, comes with steering-wheel mounted gearshift.
Overall, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are reduced by more than 15 per cent, in line with
Bentley’s environmental commitment.
Prodigious power and torque are complemented by an all-new chassis, unique to the new Mulsanne.
Both lighter and stiffer than previous flagship Bentleys, the new chassis benefits both ride and
A new Drive Dynamics Control system operated by a rotary switch mounted next to the gearshift
selector, can be used to select from three standard modes – Bentley, Sport and Comfort – offering
precise calibration of suspension and steering control systems.
A fourth mode, ‘Custom’, allows the driver to select bespoke settings via the multimedia system
to ‘tune’ the Mulsanne to a preferred driving style.
A new air suspension system with continuously variable dampers provides an even more refined
and comfortable ride at lower speeds, yet can reduce the Mulsanne’s ride height automatically at
high speeds to reduce lift and improve aerodynamic stability. With 20 inch alloy wheels and 265/45
ZR 20 tyres as standard, dynamic handling is assured. Customers may also opt for 21 inch wheels,
available in two styles, fitted with 265/40 ZR 21 tyres.
While the all-new Bentley Mulsanne pays respect to the past, it is a thoroughly modern luxury
car that offers the world’s most exclusive driving experience – a unique fusion of power,
refinement and elegance.
Bentley Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen says: “No other car maker
can offer such a blend of performance and refinement in a single vehicle. The new Mulsanne is a car
that evokes the Bentley philosophy of building the best luxury grand tourers in the world.”
Front, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive
Alloy heads and block
1,020 Nm/752 lb ft
ZF 8-Speed automatic
Body & Chassis
5,575 mm (219.49 in.)
1,926 mm (75.80 in.)
1,526 mm (60.01 in.)
3,266 mm (128.60 in.)
1,605 mm (63.20 in.)
1,651 mm (65.00 in.)
9J x 20 in. with 265/45 ZR 20 tyres
9J x 21 in. with 265/40 ZR 21 tyres