They're well ahead of the game at Bentley! Engineers are already busy working on a new Arnage – and we have caught a test mule for the flagship model driving through the firm’s home town of Crewe, Cheshire.
Although the next-generation saloon isn’t scheduled to appear on the road until 2010, top brass within the VW Group are keen for it to be a true Rolls-Royce beater, so the development programme is underway.
Our exclusive pictures prove that the new Arnage will be even bigger than the model it’s set to replace. Look closely at the centre of the car, and you can clearly see the B-pillar has been widened – an indication that the wheelbase has grown.
The increased length will ensure the new range-topper provides limousine levels of space inside. And for the first time ever, bosses are considering the possibility of using a diesel in the Arnage. Bentley’s parent company Audi has a rich heritage of oil-burners, so the options would include the V12 TDI fitted to the Audi R8.
The idea of a Bentley running on anything other than petrol has traditionally been regarded as taboo, but strict EU emissions laws are forcing the brand to rethink its ‘no diesel’ stance. And an oil-burner would sit well with its reputation for torquey engines and lazy power delivery.
In addition, rumour has it that the W16 engine from the Bugatti Veyron supercar is also under consideration for the big Bentley. It would be most suited to the range-topping Arnage T model, and have enough power to propel the four-door from 0-62mph in well under five seconds. Don’t be surprised to see VW’s new seven-speed DSG gearbox offered, either. It would ensure the perfect blend of refinement and performance.
Inside, the Arnage’s classic luxury design would remain, with a trademark wooden dashboard, deep-pile carpets and leather upholstery. Buyers will also be able to take their pick from the usual array of lavish optional extras to personalise their car – these range from bespoke wood capping to unique colour combinations.
Expect prices for the new Arnage to start from around £180,000, and rise to in excess of £200,000 for the W16-engined Arnage T version.