Monday, August 17, 2009

Bentley Mulsanne Flagship Model Makes World Debut at Pebble Beach

What recession? Bentley Motors has taken the wraps off its latest flagship model, the Mulsanne, which replaces the Arnage. The worldwide debut was at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Monterey, California, a showcase for fabulous and fabulously expensive cars.

The Bentley Mulsanne will cost in the neighborhood of $300,000, which is a pretty fancy neighborhood. But for that, you get a super-powerful 500hp engine with a street legal zeroto60 in a blistering 5.2 seconds, equal to sports cars half its size. The new Mulsanne can reach a top speed of 179 mph. Creature comforts include and individually reclining rear seats.

Conceived, styled and engineered entirely at Bentley headquarters in Crewe, England, the Mulsanne goes into production in 2010 in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility within the Crewe factory.

The Mulsanne also returns a Bentley name that was retired in 1986, after nearly a decade of production. There was even a Mulsanne corner on the famous Le Mans circuit, which Bentley won six times.

Bentley owners include vintage car fan Jay Leno, whose garage includes a 1931 Speed Six Bentley; and HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. His mother, Queen Elizabeth, also has a Bentley, for state occasions. I saw it in the Mulliner custom shop section at the Crewe factory when I visited there recently. The Queen's Bentley is in a special deep claret color that only she may use. The rest of us can use any other of the 140 plus colors in the Bentley catalogue.

The new Bentley Mulsanne will be on display next at the all-important Frankfurt Auto Show in September. I will be there to report on luxury car introductions as well as the hybrid cars and electric cars that are what I write about most often.

Here's what top automotive journalists are saying about the new Bentley Mulsanne:

Britain's Sky News

The New York Times

Car and Driver

U. S. News and World Report

These days, Bentley is owned by Volkswagen, which just purchased Porsche, another legendary name in racing. Porsche also introduced a new model at the Pebble Beach Concours -- the new Porsche Panemera, a four-door sport sedan.