Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Impression: 2012 Bentley Mulsanne

The original Bentley Mulsanne was produced from 1980 to 1992. The name comes from the Mulsanne Straight, a stretch of the 24 Hours of LeMans course where cars reach their highest speeds. Between 1924 and 1930, Bentley had five victories at the 24 Hours of LeMans. While the Mulsanne was based on the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit/Silver Spur, all Bentley models at that time were based on the Mulsanne until 1998, when the Bentley Arnage was introduced. In 1998, Volkswagen bought Bentely. The new Bentley Continental GT, Continental GTC, and Continental Flying Spur would be built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Phaeton. On August 16, 2009, Bentley unveiled a new four-door luxury sedan at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. This new Bentley went for $550,000 at the Pebble Beach car auction. This new car is the Bentley Mulsanne. Production for the Mulsanne commenced in 2010. The new Mulsanne is the first car to be independently designed by Bentley in 80 years since the W.O. Bentley 8 Litre model in 1930. From 1930 until 1998, most Bentleys shared platforms with Rolls-Royce models. The Bentley Mulsanne is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive, four-door sedan that serves as the flagship for Bentley.

I first saw the Mulsanne at the 2012 Houston Auto Show. This was one of three Bentleys on display, the other two being the Bentley Continental GT and the Bentley Continental GTC. I have seen both versions of the Continental around Houston and at various Houston Cars and Coffee events, but never a Mulsanne. The Bentleys were roped off so I could not sit inside the car. This car is beautiful. It attracted more attention then the other two Bentleys. It has a sleek, luxurious side profile. I really like how the front bumper and rear are integrated into the styling. Great job by designer Dirk van Braeckel.

The Bentley Mulsane is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.75L V8 engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, that produces 505 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 184 mph. The Mulsanne does have some power under the hood, but it also weighs 5,700 pounds. It has good acceleration for a car of that size and weight. Prices for the Mulsanne start at $325,000. This is high, but added options can put the price over $500,000. The Mulsanne is expensive, but that is the price for luxury and performance.

The Bentley Mulsanne has been featured on RTL Autowereld, Auto Esporte, Cars.TV, The Car Show, Ultimate Factories, Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocal, Rubbeldiekatz, Motorweek, and Hotel Desire. The Mulsanne has made a stop by Jay Leno's Garage. The Bentley Mulsanne is playable in Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV.

Final Thoughts: The Bentley Mulsanne is a beautiful car. It has power and performance, but it is also expensive. $325,000 is quite a bit of money for a car. While I am not a big fan of the Bentley Continental GT. I see quite a few Continental GTs on Houston roads. I have seen the Mulsanne only once outside of an auto show, and that was recently outside a Houston restaurant. If you go with the Mulsanne, you get exclusivity, something that you would not get with the Continental GT. If you can afford one, go ahead and take it out for a test drive.

Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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