Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014 12:42:00 EST
What you see above is the Bentley Grand Convertible, live from the Los Angeles Auto Show. It's basically a droptop version of the Mulsanne Speed, which would seem to be a foregone conclusion for production, but apparently isn't, according to Bentley Chairman and CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer.
"We are eagerly awaiting the response of our customers to this car. We will ensure that this car - if it reaches the roads - will be a highly exclusive, extremely limited collector's piece."
With its production possibilities out of the way, and with the image gallery you see above proving that it is, indeed, a convertible, we can move on to what makes this Grand Convertible so grand. Equipped with the same 6.75-liter engine with 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque as its hardtop brethren, it certainly won't be lacking for power. The Grand Convertible has been "fashioned entirely by hand from the very finest materials," says Bentley, and the tonneau is made from the largest piece of wood veneer ever applied by the automaker.
Why does the Bentley Mulsanne Speed exist? Sam Graham, product line director for the Mulsanne, tells us Bentley's Western customers demanded it, many driven by memories of the Arnage T - the hotted-up version of the Arnage R. The Arnage T, you may remember, arrived in 2002 and threw down 459 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque on its way to being billed the most powerful production Bentley ever. Today's Mulsanne Speed picks up the torch and takes it all the way to the Olympic stadium.
It starts with an upgrade to 530 hp at 4,200 rpm and 811 lb-ft of torque at a limbo-esque 1,750 rpm. That's an additional 25 hp and 86 lb-ft compared to the standard sedan, enabling a top speed of 190 miles per hour. That torque figure makes it second only to the Bugatti Veyron among production cars, and that terminal velocity makes it the fastest ultra-luxury sedan on God's Own Green.
Five years ago, when Bentley was preparing its farewell shindig for the Arnage, reports were that the Arnage's coupe and convertible siblings, the Brooklands and Azure, would get replacements on the Mulsanne platform. Obviously, that hasn't happened, although we were teased with the Mulsanne Vision Concept in 2012. Then, just this summer, we were again teased with rumors of a Brooklands and Azure one-two punch. While it still hasn't happened yet, Bentley's unveiling of the Grand Convertible seems to have put things in gear.
Not 'merely' a roofless Mulsanne, the Grand Convertible appears to be a droptop Mulsanne Speed, powered by a 6.75-liter engine with 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, and fitted with the directional wheels only available on the Mulsanne Speed. Finished outside in Sequin Blue with a "liquid metal" hood and windshield frame and a burl walnut veneer on the tonneau cover - a similar combo used to introduce the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé eight years ago - the cabin is covered in Beluga leather with blue cross-stitching.
Company CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer says Bentley is watching customer reaction to the car, yet the press release says it's been "Developed to signify Bentley's intentions for the future." That sounds like better than even odds we'll be seeing this on the roads. For now, though, you can see it in the high-res gallery above, at the LA Auto Show starting this week, and at Art Basel in Miami after that, and you'll find a bit more info on it in the press release below.
Would a Bentley be a Bentley if it weren't manufactured in Great Britain? Would a Lamborghini be a Lamborghini if it were built outside of Italy? It may be hard to say either way, but we might find out sooner than later, because the latest word coming in from Europe is that the Volkswagen Group is considering expanding production for both these upscale brands outside their traditional homes.
According to the Autovisie section of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the issue for both automakers comes down to their ambitious expansion programs. Both Bentley and Lamborghini plan to launch new SUVs - the former's being well under way, the latter's still awaiting approval - that would expand their annual production considerably: by 50 percent in Bentley's case, and by as much as 100 percent in Lamborghini's.
For now, both marques intend to handle the added production with additional assembly lines at their current facilities in Crewe and Sant'Agata Bolognese, respectively. But both could soon outgrow their relatively small plants - and with the Volkswagen Group operating countless factories across Europe and around the world, it wouldn't be hard to see these manufacturers shifting excess production outside of their home countries.
Bentley keeps itself busy and on our minds with ever-faster versions of the Continental family and even, most recently, of the Mulsanne. While a new coupe is said to be around the corner, the biggest project Crewe has going on at the moment is its new SUV. And this is our clearest look at it yet.
Spied with less camouflage than ever before while undergoing testing near the Nürburgring, Bentley's as-yet unnamed sport-ute is being based on the same new platform that will underpins the next Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and - if finally approved - the production version of the Lamborghini Urus concept.
Bentley's is sure to be one of the higher-end models to be based on that platform, opening up a new segment soon to be populated as well by the upcoming Maserati Levante, Range Rover Sport SVR and other potential ultra-high-end SUVs and crossovers from the likes of Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda and Daimler's restrategized Maybach.
Between Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti, the Volkswagen Group has no lack of prestige marques under its umbrella. And while some of these marques may produce models that compete against each other, each seems to be profitable enough in its own right to justify its existence. But what about Bentley and Bugatti? Surely these marques cater to the same customers, right?
Not according to their shared CEO. "The clientele between Bentley and Bugatti is remarkably different," said Wolfgang Dürheimer in an interview with Bloomberg. "The Bentley customer on average owns 8 cars. The average Bugatti customer has about 84 cars, 3 jets and 1 yacht."
That may be a slight exaggeration (we'd have expected three yachts and one jet), but it puts things into perspective: Bentleys are for the one percent. Bugattis are for the one percent of that one percent. Which only goes to show why it's taken Bugatti over eight years to sell 450 Veyrons - a number of units it would take Bentley about two weeks to move, albeit at about one tenth the price.
Eight hundred and eleven pound-feet of torque. Really, that's all you need to know about the 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed. It's the same ultra-luxurious cruiser that we've enjoyed for a few years now, but the crew in Crewe has upgraded its engine to create absolutely astonishing performance.
The storied 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 has been massaged for the Mulsanne Speed to produce an equally impressive 530 horsepower (25 more than the standard model), but it's that 811 lb-ft of twist available from an ultra-low 1,750 rpm that makes this thing so worthy of its faster nomenclature. Hitting 60 miles per hour will take just 4.8 seconds (keep in mind, this thing weighs almost three tons), and the sedan will top out at 190 mph.
It's awesome, this Mulsanne. And we can't wait to twist some pavement when it launches this winter. Scroll down for more info in Bentley's press blast.
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 19:16:00 EST
811 lb-ft of torque puts the Mulsanne Speed out ahead of every so-called muscle car on the market and eclipses most million-dollar hypercars.
Those in the market for a sedan with equal levels of performance and luxury would do well to stop by their local Bentley dealership, and have a look at the Flying Spur. Though not available in Speed trim like the previous four-door Continental, the W12 model already packs the 616-horsepower 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 from the Continental GT Speed - and we wouldn't be surprised to see the British automaker come out with an even more performance-oriented version in the future. But what about the Mulsanne?
Limited to just 300 examples worldwide, Bentley's new GT3-R is set to bring a bit of the brand's motorsports pedigree to the street. After all, the Flying B recently took the win at the Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone with its new Continental GT3, less than one year after the big racer's debut.
Like the road-going Conti GT, the GT3-R uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, tuned in this application to 572 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque - increases of 51 hp and 14 lb-ft from the already potent GT V8 S. That's enough to get the 4,839-pound Bentley to 60 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top end of 170 mph.
To make the GT3-R more hardcore than standard Continentals, the air suspension has been retuned, the brakes have been upgraded with carbon silicon discs, and there's a titanium exhaust that's good for 15 pounds of weight-savings - in all, the GT3-R is some 200 pounds lighter than a comparable GT V8 S.
While Pebble Beach is traditionally thought of as the refuge of the pristine and pricey vintage vehicles of the world, there's no shortage of newer vehicles on display. And when we say "new," we mean really new. As in, not even in production new. This is the concept car lawn, and it's home to an eclectic group of vehicles from past and present.
Of course, calling it the "concept car lawn" is a bit of a misnomer this year (as it has been in previous years, too). Production models like the Alfa Romeo 4C were on display, alongside known quantities like the Hennessy Venom GT and modified versions of already-on-sale models, like the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Waterspeed Collection.
There were a few concepts on display, though. Toyota debuted the critically acclaimed FT-1 Concept in a new shade, while BMW's Beijing Motor Show stunner, the Vision Future Luxury, was also parked on the expensive grass. Also appearing were the Nissan GT-R in sheep's clothing, the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge, and the recently debuted McLaren P1 GTR.