Regular readers know that in the last couple of weeks we’ve been featuring the story of Bentley Mulsanne. From the very early stages of designing, to the very last tests. Here’s the final episode which is the testing and sign off. This exquisite luxury saloon goes through more than 500 tests before it’s delivered to the customers.
Refresher: Bentley Mulsanne is powered by a 6¾ litre, twin-turbocharged hand-assembled V8 engine developing more than 505 hp and 1020Nm/752lb ft of torque. This mountain pf power enables the lofty Mulsanne to go from zero to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. The car will be launched in the Summer with pricing after tax and stuff around $300K.
The Mulsanne build story concludes with a range of exhaustive real world tests and checks that underline Bentley’s total commitment to the quality of its new flagship.
Whilst quality checks are fundamental to every stage of the Mulsanne’s build, it is at the penultimate sign-off stage ‘Checkpoint 7’ that the complete car is given the most rigorous examination possible. Every Mulsanne must pass through 503 individual checks conducted by Donna Morrey and her inspectors from the Quality team.
The inspection lasts a full two hours and features all of the functional measures you’d expect of a modern automotive plant but with key two critical differences; Bentley reviews every single Mulsanne, without exception, and the inspection team sets the most exacting standards of quality which are commensurate with a flagship model at the pinnacle of the ultra-luxury segment.
“New colleagues are sometimes surprised by the lengths we go to and have been honest enough to admit that what we consider an issue would not register at another facility.” Donna Morrey explains.
Whilst checking that every function works (first time, every time and on every car) Donna’s team is also tasked with looking beyond the merely operational. In her own words the team will also act as the ‘hands and eyes of the customer’ and a skilled inspector has a natural empathy for the car and how it should look and feel. Morrey adds:
“This element is not an exact science. However, it is a crucial skill that we value greatly and it is particularly relevant for a car like the Mulsanne which features so much craftsmanship and character. For example, we will run a hand across a particular surface in the cabin to ensure it feels right and that it delivers the tactile experience the craftsman wanted to create.”
After testing on the shake rig and rolling road, every Mulsanne completes a rigorous on-road evaluation. Jason Davies and his colleagues have an in-depth knowledge of the roads surrounding Bentley’s headquarters and the 21-mile route has been chosen to assess the Mulsanne’s engine performance, ride quality and cabin refinement. Morrey comments:
“Jason and his team have one of the most enviable jobs at the factory but their work involves something far more important than completing some basic checks and enjoying a drive. Each Mulsanne is driven on a wide range of carefully selected roads offering variations in camber and surface quality. Road types range from narrow English country lanes to fast dual carriageways, allowing the car to be comprehensively evaluated.”
Once the car returns to the Pyms Lane factory it enters a special test facility that simulates monsoon-like weather conditions to ensure that it is completely watertight before heading for the very final sign-off stage – ‘Checkpoint 8’. Here, the car progresses through a long line of ultra-bright overhead and side lights (nicknamed the ‘shipping lane’) which enables the Quality team to inspect every surface in the most minute detail.
During the critical pre-production stage senior Bentley managers from right across the business join the vehicle review at ‘Checkpoint 8’ to examine the culmination of their efforts, despite having previously completed hundreds of their own checks.
“The way all the teams come together to view the pre-production models demonstrates just how much genuine pride goes into the building of these very first cars,” Morrey notes.