New Models Boost British Car Industry – Part 1
From Bentley to Mini and electric cars to supercars, 2010 is proving a bumper year for new model launches in the British car industry.After the credit crunch inflicted temporary closures and cutbacks on the major UK car plants, a range of ground-breaking new models are breathing fresh life back into the sector.
In an exciting series of launches, all-new metal from iconic British brands like Rolls Royce, Bentley, Land Rover, Mini and Jaguar – and many more manufacturers besides – are set to roll off UK production lines.In this first of a series of articles, we take a look at new developments at two of the world’s most prestigious and revered car brands that are leading the way from the very peak of the industry – Bentley and Rolls Royce.The final appearance on the roads of Bentley’s hotly antipicated new Mulsanne will be a landmark moment in the car world – a worthy candidate, even, for car event of the year.
Not only does the company’s reputation make the all-new model very likely to be a stunning feat of engineering, but as the first big Bentley to be independently designed and built by the firm for 80 years its emergence will be a truly historic motoring moment.
Named with a nod to the company’s Le Mans racing heritage and stretching to a greater length than the outgoing Arnage, the company’s imposing new four-door flagship seems set to give the rival Rolls Royce Phantom a run for its money even when it comes to sheer road presence.
Featuring a much more traditional, upright face than the smaller Continental, the Mulsanne’s front end is marked out by a pair of huge round headlights and enormous chrome mesh grille.Like all flagship Bentleys for the last 50 years, providing the power will be a mighty V8 engine. A newly uprated version of the company’s famous 6.75 litre powerplant is expected to carry the hand-built limo to an impressive 200mph top speed for a car this size and weight.
But not even Bentley can ignore the frugal times into which their new car will be born. To save fuel and emissions the engine features cylinder deactivation technology and in common with the Continental, for greater traction and stability, will send its power to all four wheels.Even the wheels themselves are remarkable. At 20 inches they will be the largest currently available on a production road car.
The Mulsanne’s interior will blend cutting-edge gadgets such as a powerful 60Gb hard drive audio system with the company’s trademark hand-prepared wood and leather trim.Cars for the model’s first customers are already being crafted at the company’s base in Crewe, Cheshire, ready for delivery this summer.But not to be outdone by their former prestige stablemate, Rolls Royce have this year unveiled a new ‘baby’ model and given it a name last used on its cars a century ago – the Ghost.
Designed as a smaller companion for the company’s huge ultimate limo, the Phantom, the modern day Ghost will be faster and more powerful yet will aim to match the ultimate luxury of the flagship model’s interior.Rear-hinged doors will be carried over from the Phantom and passengers in the new Ghost will be met with a cabin finished with only the finest materials and trimmed with traditionally generous Rolls Royce quantities of wood and leather.
Set to undercut the new Bentley on price, the Ghost will however aim less for ultimate performance than for unmatched ride comfort.
Rolls Royce claims that their new baby’s chief weapon in its battle with the Mulsanne to be named the world’s best luxury car will be its intelligent air-suspension system, which will aim to balance agility at speed with the ultimate levels of ride comfort expected from the company’s cars.But the focus on ride doesn’t mean the Ghost will be short of power. Up front will be an enthusiastic 6.6 litre V12 engine exclusive to this car.
The only blemish on the ‘compact’ Roller’s otherwise impeccable credentials looks set to be the use of company owner BMW’s much-criticised iDrive cabin control system. But every other element of the new car’s cabin will be unique to the British manufacturer.As ever with a car wearing the legendary Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, an endless array of optional extras will be offered including individual lounge seating, classic veneered picnic tables and a cool box complete with integrated champagne glasses.The Ghost is being built on its own dedicated production line at Rolls Royce’s state-of-the-art factory in historic Goodwood, West Sussex.
If you’re among the lucky few in the market this year to spend a few hundred thousand on a cutting edge, powerful but refined luxury limo, one thing is for certain. You face a tough choice!In part two, coming soon, we look at similarly ground-breaking new car developments at fellow iconic British brands Jaguar, Land Rover and Mini.