Friday, 30 October 2009

The must-have Mulsanne

It was August when I first set eyes upon Bentley's new Mulsanne. I wrote about it on this very site at the time, saying I thought it too bling, too overt, too 'non-U' to appeal to we Bentley connoisseurs.

But I was wrong. I still stand by everything I said in August; that the wheels were too big and too chromed, that it was far too 50 Pence, P Diddly or Acorn for my liking. The chromed window surrounds were too heavy-handed, the colour didn't suit it, and it was not elegant. The biggest issue in my view was that the wide wings and grille, and single round headlights, made the nose look pinched.

Bentley's mistake was smaller than I first thought. The problem was to launch it at Pebble Beach in it's blingomatic guise, rather than in a more tastefully sporting spec. I've since seen pictures of the Frankfurt show car. In Neptune Blue and set upon five spoke alloy wheels, the car looks infinitely more upmarket than it did in Champagne and with 4 chromed dustbin lids masquerading as wheels. It also seems - though this could be a trick of the light at Frankfurt - that the chromed window surrounds are an optional extra.

But I've been playing around, as is my wont, in Photoshop. And in Brooklands Green, on those 5 spoke wheels, it looks damn good. Good enough, certainly, for me to change my mind and conclude that it really does look like a proper Bentley. The Frankfurt car also helped me see what is even more apparent in the recoloured car at the top of this article; just how close I got to the real thing in my pre-launch photoshop from early August.

Bentley seem to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat here. But, in fairness, I can see why they did what they did. The fact is, most cars of the Mulsanne's ilk are bought by blingsters nowadays. Bentley were trying to sell the car to it's prospective buyers. We connoisseurs could wait, they must have thought, because we're more likely to buy them secondhand than new. I hope that Bentley see fit to display one at the NEC this year - I understand there is a hall for the high class modern stuff as well as for the classics - to give me a chance to judge it for real. But until I see it in the metal, I'm now happy with it.

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