Bentley has dropped a strong hint that an open-top Mulsanne model is on the way. Almost three years to the day since the original Mulsanne limo made its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Crewe has released sketches of a soft-top Mulsanne, touted by Bentley as 'the ultimate in contemporary design, prestige and exclusivity'.
Is the Bentley Mulsanne Convertible Concept just a new Azure?
There's no word on a name yet - Bentley is strictly referring to the car as a concept, and emphasising the link to the Mulsanne saloon.
It'll certainly follow the same template as the Azure though: as a large, somewhat bluff drop-top capable of seating four adults in utmost opulence. It'll be an altogether more statesmanlike, less sporting car compared to Bentley's Continental GTC range.
Why does Bentley need the Mulsanne Convertible?
You might imagine that the world already has enough £150,000+ cabrios; Bentley of course already makes the Continental in V8 and W12 varieties. However, rival Rolls-Royce has cornered the ultra-high-luxury end of the market with the yacht-inspired Phantom Drophead, which also seats four and employs a folding soft-top roof.
Like the teak-decked Rolls, the Bentley Mulsanne Convertible Concept follows a maritime inspiration, but a slightly more sporting one. Bentley says the interior has been influenced by luxurious, high-performance power boats.
The Mulsanne Covertible Concept is certainly taking an unashamed aim straight at the Phantom Drophead and the marketing bods at Crewe claim theirs is 'the world’s most elegant and sophisticated convertible'. That could make for quite a twin test...
When will the Bentley Mulsanne Convertible arrive?
There's no 'when' just yet, it's more an 'if'. But we'd be shocked if Bentley didn't get the Mulsanne Convertible into production on the double.
With a potential price tag upwards of £250,000, the Mulsanne Convertible could be the latest winged-B-badged car to see big demand in emerging markets like China and Russia, thanks to their insatiable thirst for luxury British goods.
During the first half of 2012, Bentley's Chinese sales soared by 55.7%, with a total 1059 cars delivered. That compares with just 607 new Bentleys in all of debt-ridden mainland Europe.