Speaking as someone who has driven more than his fair share of Bentleys, I can say that although the brand's Continental series is the way of the future, the more expensive and stately Arnage is still a benchmark to be respected. Bentley has announced that it will debut the Arnage Final Series at next month's Paris Motor Show, thereby confirming for the first time that the current model's ten-year run is about to end. Only 150 of these special Arnage models will be built, and all are powered by Bentley's legendary twin-turbo 6.75-liter V8 producing 500 bhp and 738 lb-ft of torque, which also happens to be celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2008. Bentley says the Final Series combines the performance of the Arnage T with the refinement of the R, and a few odd features are thrown in like a rear cocktail cabinet with a Final Series stainless steel flask and two shot glasses and four Bentley umbrellas mounted in the trunk. Like any special edition, there are also Final Series badges on the exterior and interior, as well.
So if the Final Series marks the end of the Arnage, what's next? We asked Bentley outright, and they of course couldn't comment on future product, but say that work is well underway on the brand's next flagship model and hinted that it may move even further upmarket. We take that to mean the Rolls-Royce Phantom should consider itself put on notice. We also asked if Bentley's iconic V8 would be retired in these times of strict emissions regulations and maybe replaced with something from the VAG parts bin. Again, while they could neither confirm nor deny anything, we got the impression that there's life left in this 50-year motor.
BENTLEY ARNAGE FINAL SERIES
• Handcrafted at Bentley, Crewe, Arnage Final Series is an exclusive run of 150 cars, celebrating the last of Arnage
• Combining the performance of the T with the refinement of the R, Arnage Final Series is the ultimate expression of class-leading luxury and effortless power
• Arnage Final Series is the culmination of 90 years of Bentley heritage and marks the 50th anniversary of the company's iconic V8 engine
• Arnage Final Series also signals the end of an era as Bentley prepares for the future
Since its debut in 1998 the Arnage has conveyed an air of sophisticated understatement as the four-door flagship of the Bentley range. Over the last decade the car has undergone a process of constant refinement to its body, design, chassis and powertrain to maintain its class-leading position in the high luxury market.
To celebrate 10 years of the Arnage, 50 years of its mighty V8 engine and 90 years of the marque, Bentley Motors launches its limited edition model at the Paris Motor Show today.
Called the Bentley Arnage Final Series, the new model features a unique specification, combining the performance of the 500 bhp Arnage T with the refinement of the Arnage R and design elements from the Brooklands coupe, for the ultimate expression of British luxury and effortless power in a four-door saloon – a grand finale, for the grandest of Bentleys.
Hand crafted at Bentley's Crewe facility, the Final Series is an exclusive run of 150 cars, a unique example of the marque's flagship created to bid 'farewell' to the highly successful Arnage line in the most appropriate manner and style. Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, explains:
"For 10 years, Arnage has enjoyed extraordinary success at the pinnacle of the
luxury saloon market. The Final Series is a celebration of the Arnage era as Bentley
prepares for the next generation of its flagship model."
BENTLEY ARNAGE FINAL SERIES – NEWS IN BRIEF
• Limited production run of 150 cars
• Arnage T powertrain with 6 ¾ litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, producing 500 bhp and 1000 Nm of torque
• Six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sophisticated locking torque converter provides fast yet ultra-smooth gearshifts
• Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) logic system improves dynamic response and handling with less intrusive intervention when a reduction in grip is detected
• Tyre Pressure Monitoring System fitted as standard
• Exterior design styling changes include:
20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels
Retractable 'Flying B' bonnet mascot
Body coloured headlamp bezels
Dark tint matrix upper and lower grilles
Lower front wing air vents
'FINAL SERIES' badge on front wings
Bentley 'Jewel' fuel filler cap
Twin exhaust tail pipes
• Interior design enhancements include:
'FINAL SERIES' treadplates to front doors
Drilled alloy brake and accelerator pedals
Waistrails with inset chrome strip and recessed Bentley marque badges (for the first time on Arnage)
Rear cocktail cabinet and document stowage trimmed in hide
FINAL SERIES stainless steel flask and shot glasses
Two picnic tables available in a range of premium unbleached veneers
• Four Bentley umbrellas with wooden handles
• Further enhancements to the standard Final Series specification include:
Large display audio head unit with Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot
Removable rear cup holders for rear centre armrest
Hide covered boot rail
• Further enhancements to the Final Series optional specification include:
- iPod interface
- Rear remote control for infotainment system
- Naim for Bentley audio system: 1100W, 10 speakers and next generation Digital Signal Processing (DSP) with 8 modes to create the world's best in-car sound stage.
A COMMANDING ROAD PRESENCE
For the last ten years the Arnage's combination of muscular lines and understated luxury have endowed it with a commanding road presence synonymous with all Bentley Grand Tourers, subtly conveying the car's formidable performance potential.
This powerful exterior profile is underpinned by a torsionally stiff bodyshell (with an astonishing 6,500 spot welds) that helps to deliver outstanding ride and refinement. Based on the sporting Arnage T, the Final Series offers a range of discreet exterior cues that further enhance its powerful stance. Key ingredients of the distinctive appearance include a dark-tinted Bentley matrix radiator grille with Flying 'B' mascot and dark-tinted lower grille. The iconic Flying 'B', which can retract neatly into the grille surround, was originally designed by motoring artist F. Gordon Crosby and was first used on the 1930 Bentley 8-Litre.
The Arnage Final Series is further distinguished by exterior design features first seen on the exclusive Bentley Brooklands coupe, comprising 20-inch five-spoke, two-piece alloy wheels and 'Le Mans' lower front wing air vents.
Additional unique features include body-coloured front and rear lamp bezels, 'jewel' fuel filler cap (made from billet aluminium) together with 'Final Series' wing badges and polished stainless steel treadplates to the front doors.
The Arnage Final Series will have a very special appeal to Bentley customers, as Peter Guest, Head of Department, Body & Trim, explains:
"Thanks to its hand-built exclusivity and superb quality, Arnage has become a world-wide benchmark for automotive craftsmanship. The Final Series epitomises the truly bespoke feel we aspire to and are determined to maintain."
Inside, the Final Series is everything you would expect of a bespoke Bentley, offering the highest levels of hand-craftsmanship to a small, but discerning audience. The interior offers a remarkably spacious, luxury cabin to provide the ultimate in firstclass travel for four adults.
Many of the most desirable Mulliner options are included in Final Series as standard, most notably the hand-made waistrails with inset chrome strip with recessed Bentley badges, the new rear cocktail cabinet and document storage trimmed in hide, plus the beautifully designed picnic tables available in a choice of three premium unbleached wood veneers – all prime examples of Crewe craftsmanship.
Bentley is the only automobile manufacturer in the world to offer as standard a cabin trimmed entirely with leather hides – including the headlining. The handcrafted steering wheel requires up to 16 hours of double-stitching. A set of mirror-matched veneers for each car takes 13 days to craft, while 17 hides and almost 400 separate pieces of leather are used for the upholstery, trim and headlining. Arnage Final Series spans the many eras between traditional coachbuilding skills and 21st century high-performance automotive engineering.
As in every Bentley, peerless craftsmanship and bespoke finishing are to the fore. Every item of trim, be it veneer, hide or chromed bezel, uses authentic materials. Built by hand, the creation of each Arnage takes a minimum of six weeks and owners can take full advantage of Mulliner, Bentley's specialist commissioning department, as Trevor Gay, Personal Commissioning Manager, Mulliner elaborates:
"Up to 80 percent of Arnage customers specify Mulliner features. Mulliner is completely dedicated to fully understanding their requirements and to delivering a bespoke experience and a uniquely high level of personal service."
Arnage Final Series is available in the full Bentley range of 42 exterior colours, 25 interior hides, and three veneers, plus the comprehensive line-up of Mulliner options and its bespoke colour-matching service that enable Bentley owners to create a uniquely personal car.
To help customers finalise the specification of their Arnage Final Series, the Bentley design team recommends six classic colour and trim combinations – Titan Grey (with Anthracite interior), Royal Ebony (with Beluga), Windsor Blue (with Windsor Blue), Meteor (with Imperial Blue), Burnt Oak (with Burnt Oak) and Black Velvet (with Burgundy).
NEW FEATURE ENHANCEMENTS
Arnage Final Series buyers will also benefit from a range of standard and optional feature enhancements. Standard enhancements include:
o New audio head unit – with larger display screen and an SD (secure digital) memory card slot instead of the single CD slot.
o New rear cup holders – displaying Bentley craftsmanship, these removable cup holders attach to the front edge of the rear centre armrest, or can be stored inside the armrest.
o New hide covered boot rail – features coordinated leather trim and a chrome strip along the top edge.
New optional enhancements available at extra cost:
o iPod Interface – links to the Infotainment system and enables customers to play their favourite music through the car's audio system. Supplied with connectors for iPod, USB, Mini USB and a 3.5mm AUX jack. Includes a 12 volt power outlet for charging purposes.
o Rear remote control – enables the rear seat passengers to control the infotainment system. When not in use it can be stored in a dedicated pouch inside the rear centre armrest.
o Naim for Bentley world class audio system – delivers the world's best in-car sound stage. Created in partnership with Bentley by Naim Audio, a UK-based high end hi-fi manufacturer, this system features 10 speakers, a dual channel sub-woofer and a 1100 Watt amplifier – the world's most powerful production unit fitted in a car. Bentley is also the first car manufacturer to use a next-generation Digital Signal Processor (DSP) in its audio system which features eight individual modes to reproduce true emotions and a 'live' concert-like experience.
EFFORTLESS PERFORMANCE FROM CREWE'S MIGHTY V8
The engine, transmission, chassis and running gear of the Arnage Final Series are identical to those previously employed in Arnage T. In this specification, Bentley's remarkable all-aluminium 6 ¾ litre V8 engine produces 500 bhp (507PS/373kW) and 1000 Nm (738lb ft) of torque – figures that ensure that the legendary Bentley 'wave of torque' delivers effortless performance for a unique driving experience.
Acceleration to 60 mph is accomplished in 5.2 seconds (0-100km/h in 5.5 secs) with 100 mph reached in 12.1 seconds (0-160km/h in 12.0 seconds). Top speed of the Final Series is 179 mph / 288 km/h. Each V8 engine bears the signature of the team leader who oversaw its hand-built construction in the Crewe factory.
The six-speed ZF automatic transmission, first introduced for the 2007 model, ensures optimum flexibility, response and refinement. Three transmission modes (Drive, Sport and Semi-Automatic) allow the driver to take full advantage of the powerful 500 bhp V8 engine.
DYNAMIC HANDLING, SUPERB RIDE AND AWESOME BRAKING
Significantly upgraded in 2007, the Arnage's fully independent double wishbone front and rear suspension features coil springs with computer-controlled, adaptive electro-hydraulic dampers and automatic ride-height control with auto-load compensation. These endow the Arnage with impressive body control in all driving conditions, while the new five-spoke, two-piece 8.5J x 20-inch Sports alloy wheels with 255/40 ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tyres – originally developed for the Brooklands coupe - aid handling and road holding.
As an option, Final Series may be specified with carbon/silicon carbide, cross-drilled brake discs. Measuring 420 x 40 mm (front) and 356 x 28 mm (rear), these discs are the largest fitted to any production car on sale today. With eight-piston callipers, the brakes provide impressive retardation and also give an 8 kg reduction in unsprung weight, benefiting steering response, ride suppleness and acceleration.
This lightweight braking system ensures virtually fade-free use, time after time, and superb resistance to disc distortion under high thermal conditions. Under normal use, the brake discs will last the lifetime of the car and pad life is doubled compare to the standard system.
The Traction Control system is calibrated with the aim of avoiding all unnecessary reductions in engine torque. The ESP logic system, which is set-up to allow spirited handling without any reduction in stability or safety, monitors the car's overall stability rather than simply loss of grip to the wheels. This reduces the amount of intervention required and restores power earlier and more progressively, allowing the power of the V8 engine to be fully exploited.
50TH ANNIVERSARY FOR BENTLEY'S MIGHTY V8
The fitment of Bentley's legendary V8 engine in the Final Series in its most powerful Arnage form is an ideal way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this renowned powertrain. Drawing on the wealth of aircraft engine experience gained at Crewe – manufacturing thousands of Merlin engines to power such famous British WW2 planes as the Hurricane, Spitfire, Mosquito and Lancaster – the first Bentley V8 engine was designed and built in 1959.
The fact that Bentley's V8 design has served the marque remarkably well for five decades should not come as a surprise, as Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board, Engineering, comments:
"The original forward-thinking design of the all-aluminium Bentley V8 was a masterpiece and so good that we have been able to improve it continuously for nearly 50 years. Today's engine produces around two and a half times the power of its 1959 predecessor, fuel consumption is only 60 percent of the original and emissions are
an incredible 99 percent lower."
In 1959 the power and torque of that first 6.23-litre 90-degree V8 engine in the Bentley S2 saloon was officially described as "adequate". Actual output was around 200 bhp with 400 Nm of torque. Today, the Final Series 6 ¾ V8 produces 500 bhp and 1000 Nm with over 90 percent of that torque available between 1,800 and 3,800 rev/min.
One of the reasons Bentley's V8 engine has evolved so successfully is the position of the exhaust valves, high in the cylinder head with short ports, originally designed for rapid heat dissipation to help engine cooling. Decades later this meant that the catalytic converters could be quickly heated thanks to the short path from valves to
catalysts, which benefits exhaust emissions.
Driven by the need to meet increasingly stringent exhaust gas legislation around the world and the desire of many Bentley drivers for more power, the V8 engine has progressively evolved over the years. In 1962 an increased compression ratio enhanced performance. Seven years later, for the Bentley T-series, the V8 engine underwent a far greater power boost with a longer stroke increasing capacity to 6 ¾ litres, where it remains to this day.
The introduction of turbocharging in 1982 delivered an even more dramatic increase in power to 297bhp to create the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo. The later introduction of port injection systems and a charge cooler for the turbo further improved performance.
In 1999 the V8 engine was introduced into the Arnage, codenamed "F1", with a single turbocharger, by now developing 400bhp/298kW and 616lbft/835 Nm of torque. This was followed in 2002 by the "F6" version featuring twin turbochargers, boosting power to 450bhp/336kW with 645lbft/875 Nm of torque. The V8 engine underwent perhaps its most extensive development in 2006 taking power to 500 bhp and torque to 1000 Nm. The introduction of two low-inertia, quick-reacting turbochargers that operate with far greater efficiency at lower engine speeds, reach maximum turbine speed in half the time of the previous units.
Furthermore, a re-profiled camshaft with an all-new roller tappet system provided revised valve timing and substantially improved refinement. These changes also delivered increased power, enhanced durability and ensured compliance with European EU IV and US LEV II emission standards.
THE PERFECT MODEL TO BID 'FAREWELL' TO ARNAGE
Commenting on the final chapter of the Arnage story, Stuart McCullough, Member of the Board, Sales and Marketing, says:
"The Final Series is the perfect model to give our Arnage flagship a splendid send
off. Handcrafted at Crewe, this exclusive run of 150 cars represents the ultimate
expression of Bentley luxury and effortless power."