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The new Bentley Mulsanne is partly built by R2D2.

By Rigval on 18 Feb 2010

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A Blurb on the soon to be on sale Bentley Mulsanne from the Bentley website:

Something large, fast, refined and comfortable. This philosophy resonates deeply at Bentley and has, over time, created a legacy that embodies all of these characteristics: record-breaking feats, daring exploits and a host of exquisitely handcrafted and beautifully engineered cars. Now, more than 90 years later, the all-new flagship Bentley Mulsanne embodies W.O Bentley’s passion. It is a powerful and elegant driver’s car like nothing else on the road.”

Now I know that discussing anything about a Bentley is quite irrelevant to most of us here as most of us will never own one but I do think that it would make an interesting piece of news.

It is good news that Bentley is coming out with a replacement for the Arnage, which has been around since the end of the last century. It will have the usual Bentley 6.75liter V8 but it is redesigned with modern features so that it will meet Euro 5 emissions regulation as well as being lighter and with 'new' technology like cylinder de-activation and variable cam timing. Looks like Bentley has decided to leave the 1950s at last. Not that I really care, as I always loved the old 6.75liter engine that has been around basically unchanged since those days in the pre-split up with Rolls Royce, especially in its Turbocharged form in the Turbo R versions. I have had the pleasure of listening to a 1970s Rolls Royce Corniche being started a few years ago and it is a characterful V8 lump. Not as silent as you think as it burbles like a traditional V8.

I do not know how much Bentley is going to charge its customers in Singapore, but in the United Kingdom, the land of tea, macaroons and scones, it will sell for a starting price of £220,000 beginning September 2010. Each car will take 9 weeks to build and there will be 114 paint choices, 21 carpet colours, 9 wood veneers and 24 different leather hides. But if the customer isn't happy with the choices, they can always specify a custom colour and leather schemes subject to cost of course. All the latest technology that you can find in an Audi can be found in this new Bentley (as Bentley is owned by the Volkswagen-Audi Group) and you can specify a NAIM audio system, whatever that is as I am not an audiophile, iPod/MP3 user inputs and a derivative of the Audi MMI system.

Yes, yes, yes. You can find all of these information plastered somewhere on other websites but lets now go back to the blurb posted above. Especially the part where it says 'handcrafted'. This would mean that the Bentley Mulsanne is hand assembled by some blokes in overalls at the Bentley factory in Crewe, England. But this statement should not be taken too seriously as I've read that parts of the Mulsanne will be built by R2D2.

Yup. Bentley has allowed robots to assemble parts of the Mulsanne. R2D2 will then weld half of the 6,300 spot welds in the car. According to the report, the reason they're using robots instead of having Harry the welder do it is so that there is a balance between actual craft and repeatability.

Of course robots are already used in the W12 engine assembly of slightly cheaper Continental models but according to them the new robots have programming that would enable them to spot weld with great accuracy with a maximum tolerance of less than 8/100ths of an inch throughout the Mulsanne's length.

I believe that in a way this may be a good thing as most of the time, structural welds need lots of accuracy which gives it proper strength. Imagine if Harry decided to have a late night out at the local pub. He may have a hangover the next day and the Bentley he will work on may have extra welds (which is a good thing) or less welds (which is of course a bad thing) or a sloppy weld (which is unbecoming for a Bentley) for that matter.

Of course, you now know that the Mulsanne is not very handcrafted as you'd expect.

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Bentley, Mulsanne, 6750 and 2 more...

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Rigval
Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.



 
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