Sorry Bentley, but my first reaction (everyone’s surely?) to a car named Arnage Final Series is to ignore it and ask what’s next. So I did some digging to find out about the Arnage’s replacement.
The current Arnage faces a slow twitching death. The Final Series doesn’t even go on sale until spring 09, and after that you will still be able to buy the LWB models.
In fact I really can’t see why Bentley pre-launched the Arnage Final Series at the Paris Show. It just screams ‘run-out special’.
Anyway, let’s talk about the future. The new top-end saloon goes on sale in 2010.
This time last year, Audi engineers started telling me they were going to impose their A8’s aluminium spaceframe and chassis on the new Bentley. Turns out Crewe won its independence over that.
This will have a big effect on the car’s character and bearing. If it had used a VW Group platform it would have been a lower-slung car like the Continental. The Arnage successor won’t be like that. It’ll be tall as the current one. And as large. And as heavyweight. So it will still have that ocean-liner magnificence.
The 6.75-litre twin-turbo engine stays too. It might be based on an engine introduced in 1959, but rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Again, it’s integral to the big-Bentley character, and it’s possible to make it run clean enough for years to come.
Bentley has already announced a programme to allow it to run on biofuel. Further into the future, hybridisation is on the cards. Though that probably doesn’t matter to those Bentley customers who happen to own their own oilfields.
The car isn’t just a facelift though. It needs some big-scale underskin work to help it meet new crash rules (front and rear) and make the body stiffer.
It’ll be even more expensive than the Arnage too. Most Arnages in any case already cost tens of thousands over list, because customers spam them up with assorted personalistion from the in-house Mulliner coachworks.
The plan for the new car is simply to start the price bidding at roughly the point where it currently stops. So you’re looking at a £300,000 car.