Bentley's muscle-bound Mulsanne

Bentley has unveiled its Mulsanne ultraluxury sedan, which just happens to also be ultrapowerful.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
2 min read

The Bentley Mulsanne on display in San Francisco, Calif.
Something about the Mulsanne gives me the distinct impression that Bentley is trying to build a better Rolls-Royce. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2011 Bentley Mulsanne--photos

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The 2011 Bentley Mulsanne was officially announced at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, but the luxury automaker was keeping quiet with the details regarding its newest land-yacht's power train and tech. However, with the 2009 Frankfurt auto show, the veil has been pulled back and we're finally able to share the goods.

Let's just get this out of the way: 752 pound-feet of torque--that's how much twist is generated by the Mulsanne's 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. There's also 505-horsepower being generated, but we can't get past that number: 752.

The engine isn't the only generator of huge numbers. Try "2,200-watt Naim for Bentley premium audio system with eight DSP modes and 20 speakers" on for size. Feeding that audiophile quality audio system is a 40GB hard-drive-based audio system that features navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and multimedia connectivity options.

Bentley's PR guys and gals probably won't admit it, but much of the Mulsanne's tech appears to be repackaged Audi technology, which makes sense as both automakers are mostly owned by the Volkswagen Group. For example, the infotainment system appears to be a reskinning of Audi's MMI system and features a leather-lined MP3-player drawer in the center of the dash that houses what appears to be Audi's Music Interface. A Drive Select system with four vehicle dynamic modes (including a user customizable mode) is remarkably similar to the system that we're starting to see on, you guessed it, Audis. This technology sharing is fine by us; after all, the Rolls-Royce Phantom shares more than a little tech with its distant BMW relatives.

Bentley Mulsanne engine plaque
Each 6.75-liter V-8 features a numbered plaque, just in case you want to track down the bloke who hand assembled your motor. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

However, Mulsanne represents a level of extreme luxury that can't be found in any Audi we've ever seen. Plush carpet, fine leather, and high-quality wood and metal finishes can all be customized in any way that the customer likes. There are over 114 paint colors available, 24 leather colors, and dozens of wood veneers available, and that's before we get into custom bespoke options. Each Mulsanne is handmade in Crewe, England and carries a plaque on the body and a numbered plaque on the engine declaring its handmade bona fides.

Check out our Bentley Mulsanne photo gallery for a closer look and more details, and stay tuned to our continuing coverage of the 2009 Frankfurt auto show.