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2011 Bentley Mulsanne (photos)

Bentley showed its big Mulsanne sedan at the 2010 Detroit auto show, a car of unparalleled luxury. Fine coachwork throughout the cabin sits beside traditional Bentley design elements.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET
Having shed the Arnage, a pre-Volkswagen car, from its line-up, Bentley replaces it with an all-new flagship luxury sedan, the 2010 Mulsanne. Named after a famous turn on the LeMans 24 Hour course, the Mulsanne is intended to hearken back to Bentley's roots, while still offering the performance for which the brand has become known.
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As a new vehicle, the Mulsanne sports the latest driving tech, including an air suspension that automatically adapts for road conditions and speed, and can be set for different driving modes. At more than 18 feet long, the Mulsanne has plenty of room for passengers, luggage, and its large engine.
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The twin turbo 6.75-liter engine under the hood produces 505 horsepower. But the more important number for a luxury sedan such as this is its 752 pound-feet of torque, available at 1,800rpm, ensuring that the big vehicle moves effortlessly and smoothly forward on command. The engine is mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission.
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Looking around the cabin, we noted that, just behind the exquisite coachwork, the electronics are Volkswagen's latest, similar to what we've seen in the CC and new GTI. An LCD in the dashboard hides behind a wood panel, but when exposed shows maps stored on a 40 gigabyte hard drive.
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Bentley offers a wide choice of materials and colors in the cabin, and even chose a particular tanning process for the leather to produce a smell reminiscent of older Bentleys. Massage seats are available in the front and rear of the car.
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As part of its heritage, Bentley used gauges similar to those of earlier Bentleys, with a dial that looks upside down compared with the convention.
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The shifter for the 8 speed automatic reveals Bentley craftsmanship with its big wooden spindle and metal top. Paddles mounted to the steering column allow manual sequential shifting.
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8 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET
The Mulsanne can be had with a Naim audio system, which produces absolutely stunning audio quality. This audio system uses 20 speakers and 2,200 watts of amplification. 20 digital signal processing modes include one designed for compressed MP3 audio tracks to extrapolate the lost information.

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