Bentley's flagship model begins production at the company's Crewe plant next spring. First deliveries of the large Mulsanne to the UK take place sometime in the summer of 2010 and in the fall for the US. Only the well-heeled with the required £220,000 in pocket change will get their hands on one. For the US, the MSRP of $285,000 excludes taxes and delivery charges. Already over 1,000 potential customers from the UK, Europe and the US have been given a live preview of the car.

Said to be the most luxurious Bentley ever built, the Mulsanne puts its occupants in the very cusp of luxury motoring. Buyers will be offered a choice of 114 paint colours or a unique colour of their own making, 21 carpet colours, 24 interior leather hides tanned using a decades-old process and a total of nine wood veneers. It takes about 9 weeks to complete one Mulsanne from scratch.

Though classic in its general approach, the limo will also get very modern features such as Bluetooth connectivity, a SIM card reader, an iPod connection, a 3G MMI system and what Bentley says is the world's most powerful sound system installed in a production car. The latter is a 20-channel 2,200-watt mobile music station.

Power is supplied by a lightweight 6.75-litre twin turbo V8 making 378kW (500bhp) and 1,000Nm (740 lb-ft) of torque. It comes with a cylinder de-activation and variable cam phasing feature to help cut fuel consumption and C02 emissions.

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