Since its debut in 1998 the Bentley Arnage has conveyed an air of sophisticated understatement as the four-door flagship of the Bentley range and 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 will launch its limited edition model at the Paris Motor Show next week.
The Final Series is a limited run of 150 cars built to celebrate the passing of the Arnage, the last remnant of the Bentley company that existed before VW took the reins. But far from languishing on lots unloved, the Final Series cars have yet to be built. Launched at the Paris show this October, the first examples will be delivered early in 2009 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Bentley’s famous 6.75-litre V8. Each of the largely hand built cars will cost £195,000, nearly £20,000 more than the current range-topping Arnage, the Arnage T.
Five-spoke 20-inch wheels and a Final Series badge on each front wing are the most obvious changes but also part of the package is a retractable Flying B bonnet mascot and body-colour headlamp bezels. Inside you get a special Final Series stainless steel flask and shot glasses, four Bentley umbrellas and drilled alloy pedals. Some of the standard kit comes straight from the expensive Mulliner options list including the cocktail cabinet and picnic tables.
Claimed to offer the performance of the driver-focused Arnage T with the refinement of the softer R, the Final Series tortures its real wheels with 500bhp and a gargantuan 737lb ft of torque. Sixty flashes past in 5.1sec, 100mph in just 12. Ultimately this two-tonne monster will reach nearly 180mph before physics interrupts and puts an end to such silliness.
So it’s quick, but its little brother the Continental Flying Spur Speed is even faster, being capable of a stonking 200mph, not to mention £62,000 cheaper. But the two are very different propositions with the their roots in different eras. And while a Spur takes 182 hours to build, an Arnage consumes a massive 560 hours of Bentley’s time.
The Arnage will eventually be replaced by a new Bentley saloon pitched further up market than the Arnage and priced closer to rival Rolls Royce’s £265k Phantom. But in the meantime the Azure convertible, and recently introduced Brooklands coupé, which both use the Arnage’s platform and V8 engine, will continue to be available.