Bentley has just unveiled the replacement for the Arnage, the Bentley Mulsanne, at the Pebble Beach Concours in California.
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. 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 help to cut the engine’s mass and improve fuel consumption. The engine is also said to be fitted with new fuel-saving technology, which could include cylinder deactivation.
The engine also has improved torque delivery, with much more available lower down the rev range. Bentley isn’t yet revealing how much torque or power this engine has, although it’s unlikely to much more than the current unit’s 738lb ft.
It is more powerful than the Arnage’s engine though, with over 500bhp. Despite this it won’t match the Flying Spur’s 200mph, although 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 21-inch wheels.
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.