New model? Bentley grilled
Photo gives the first glimpse at a super-limo, writes KEVIN HEPWORTH
ATEASER campaign for the next Bentley Arnage has started. A shadowy photo of the grille and front end of the new super-limo has been released.
The new car, called the Grand Bentley for the pre-launch campaign, is only the fifth all-new fourdoor limousine in the company’s 90-year history.
It will sit at the top of the luxury marque’s range and be aimed directly at its traditional rival, Rolls-Royce.
‘‘This is the all-new Grand Bentley. This will be our pinnacle product,’’ says Ed Striebig, regional manager for Bentley in Australia and New Zealand.
‘‘I think you have to be realistic about volume expectations at that upper echelon of the market, but we are very confident it will receive a good reception.’’
Bentley has been in desperate need of a Grand Bentley for several years. The ageing Arnage range has struggled against newer, more technologically advanced products such as the Phantom from Rolls-Royce.
‘‘I think it should certainly appeal to existing Arnage owners and to those people who perhaps more recently have looked to Rolls-Royce for a pinnacle limousine product,’’ Striebig says.
But he also hopes it will attract people who hadn’t considered a car from Bentley because it is all new and has state-of-the-art technology.
Striebig would not comment on suggestions the first concept model of the new car will be displayed at one of the world’s peak gatherings for well-heeled car owners, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 16. Bentley is a featured marque this year.
‘‘We are not ready to announce our plans for market entry yet, but there will be more information coming out within a couple of weeks,’’ was all Striebig would say.
Arnage production officially ends in September. This will clear space at the factory in Crewe, England, for the new car, though it is not expected to be available for at least another 12 months.
The Arnage replacement — it may well retain the historic nameplate — is expected to be built off a heavily modified version of Audi’s modular platform seen in everything from the new A4 to the next A8.
The V8 engine will be a bespoke Bentley power plant. Drive is most likely to be through ZF’s new eightspeed automatic transmission.
The engine is certain to be an E85 flex-fuel-capable unit in the same vein as the recently launched Continental Supersports.
Though not confirming the new power plant, Striebig says: ‘‘By 2012 all of our products will have flex-fuel capability, in the same way the Super Sport has.
‘‘This is very exciting. It is a very rare occurrence. If you look back over the 90-year history of the Bentley marque there have only been five all-new four-door limousines.
‘‘I know that everybody at the factory— and there have been some 600 people involved directly in design and manufacturing engineering — is immensely proud.’’
Look into the future: for the Bentley Arnage (left) and (above) the first teaser photo of its replacement.