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Sneak peek: Bentley reveals (some of) its flagship

Grand entrance: Sorry, this is all you get to see of the New Grand Bentley - yet.

Bentley’s all-new top-shelf Arnage replacement emerges without much ado

11 Jun 2009

BENTLEY has released a teaser image and video of the car that will replace its range-topping Arnage sedan.

The single, dimly-lit picture and footage is limited to part of the all-new model’s bonnet, revealing that a Continental-style clamshell front-end design that tapers towards the grille will be one of the major styling cues for Bentley’s new flagship.

It represents a significant departure from the current Arnage’s more traditional bonnet, which meets the front quarter panels at shut lines that run conventionally along the top of the wings, but the top-shelf Bentley’s tall roofline and upright seating positions should continue.

At this stage the car is dubbed the New Grand Bentley and UK sources suggest it is unlikely to carry over the Arnage nameplate when it is fully revealed by the end of the northern hemisphere summer.

The car’s global public premiere is expected to take place at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in the US this August.

Bentley has confirmed that its direct rival for the expanded Rolls-Royce model range from BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s Maybach line-up was designed and engineered and will be built at the Volkswagen-owned British company’s base at Crewe, England.

It has released no further information, however, other than to claim the New Grand Bentley, which will emerge in the marque’s 90th anniversary year, will be “exceptional in all respects on the road” and “the purest expression of the Bentley spirit”.

54 center imageLeft: Arnage Final Series.

As the first Bentley to be based on a modified version of sister company Audi’s aluminium spaceframe chassis, the significantly lighter NGB is expected to offer more power, performance and luxury than the Spirit of Ecstasy’s best current models.

Current betting is that the newest Bentley could be powered by either a new incarnation of Bentley’s 6.75-litre V8, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, or a detuned version of the quad-turbo W16 engine from Bugatti’s Veyron supercar.

Bentley is known to have developed a W16-powered Arnage prototype and Volkswagen is reportedly keen to increase its economy of scale with the expensive, low-volume engine.

Reports that it could also feature the 12-cylinder turbo-diesel engine from the Audi Q7 V12 TDI appear wide of the mark, given recent comments by Bentley chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen, who said research showed buyers at this level were not interested in oil-burning cars.

“We have the technology to do a diesel right now, but whether we do it really depends on how successful VW, Mercedes and others are at normalising diesel sales in the US,” he told Autocar.

“Bentley could never lead the field in that area. You could only ever respond to a strong demand.” Production of just 150 examples of the Arnage Final Series has ended, but some examples of the swansong version of Bentley’s aged flagship remain available, priced at $628,637 plus on-road costs in Australia.

The final Arnage is eclipsed in price by the Arnage RL ($631,094), Brooklands Coupe ($695,710) and the Azure convertible, which tops the British range at $684,057 – and no less than $744,132 for the Azure T.

Bentley is taking orders for the fastest version of the Continental GT coupe ever produced, with first Australian deliveries of the 110kg-lighter, 463kW two-seater Supersports expected here in early 2010.

Priced at $525,000, the Supersports will set a new price ceiling for the mid-sized Continental model range, which will be joined here by the Continental GTC Speed drop-top ($480,997) within months.

The newest Continental convertible completes Bentley’s new range of Speed model variants, which now comprises the Continental GT Speed coupe, Flying Spur Speed sedan and GTC Speed convertible.

Read more:

First look: Final swansong for Bentley’s Arnage

Bentley pulls on production handbrake

Melbourne show: Bentley flies Flying Spur speed

Detroit show: Bentley goes for GTC Speed

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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