The 'grand new Bentley' – CAR spy photos of 2010 Mulsanne

Published: 06 July 2009

Bentley Arnage RIP. CAR's scooped the 2010 Bentley Arnage replacement – these world exclusive spy photos reveal Bentley's new limo in production guise. They were smuggled out of the company's Crewe headquarters weeks ahead of the new Arnage's debut expected later in summer 2009.

Today we publish our second instalment of Bentley scoop photos – with the first glimpse inside the new Arnage successor. Click 'Next' below to read today's latest updates on the powertrain and interior of the most important big Bentley for decades.

What's the new Bentley Arnage successor going to be called?

That's still shrouded in mystery, but we hear the Grand badge is mooted. While the name might be uncertain at this stage, our pictures leave little of the look and shape to the imagination. It's being developed under the Project Kimberley codename.

At first glance, the car is much more modern than the outgoing Arnage, which is essentially a Rolls-era limo. The new saloon has been developed entirely under the watch of new masters Volkswagen – and takes a technological leap forward accordingly.

New Bentley Arnage (2010) – the design story

The new Arnage is clearly aimed squarely at the Rolls-Royce Phantom end of the market. There's an imposing front end, the visage dominated by a huge mesh grille bisected by a chrome upright and bordered by a pair of lights. Each lamp is ringed by a corona of LEDs and there's a matching mini chicken-mesh grille below.

Bentley's official teaser photo above confirms the snout in high-res, and confirms there will also be a pop-up mascot, missing from our unauthorised photos of the production car.

Note the curvy tension built into the Arnage replacement's bonnet; there's real form, and the swelling peaks and troughs of the bodywork hark back to the 1950s R-type and other classic Bentleys.

Is the new Bentley Arnage a saloon?

Yes, although styling chief Dirk van Braeckel's design team has spirited in the feeling of a long, luxurious coupé. It's not clearly visible on these shots, but the rear door handles will be hidden and the bootline arcs downwards with a decidedly retro flourish.

New grand Bentley: the engine bay

The new Arnage successor is powered by the familiar 6.75-litre V8 that's powered big Bentleys for half a decade since its launch on the 1959 S2 Continental. It's been given a thorough makeover, and E85 biofuels versions are expected. In the longer run, we'd bet a substantial amount of dosh that either a diesel or hybrid powertrain is under development to yield Bentley's promised 40% cut in CO2 by 2012.
Like the Continental GT Supersports, E85 doesn't mean a P45 from the performance club. We hear the hand-built V8 will produce more power than today (expect some 550bhp and 800lb ft) and will v-max at around 200mph.

All that muscle will be sent to all four corners; like the Conti family, the new limo will adopt 4wd using know-how from sister company Audi. This new drivetrain is an apt reminder that there are very few carryover parts from the existing Arnage. Project Kimberley will be described as all-new when it is officially unveiled.

How much will the new Bentley limo cost?

In line with its Rolls-Royce bashing aspirations, the new Bentley is tipped to cost from £220,000 for the base model. Unlike today's Arnage which can be ordered in RL stretched LWB form, there will be a single wheelbase offered, in a bid to cut down complication and cost at the factory.

It's an important point. Bentley is striving to improve its profitability with the new car and it'll be much easier to build. Today's car is extraordinarily labour intensive, but the new one will take significantly less time to roll off the existing Arnage line; the Azure convertible and Brooklands coupé will continue in production for a while until Project Kimberley ultimately spawns successors for each.

And what about inside the new Bentley limousine?

CAR's secret scoop photos snatch a brief glimpse inside the rear of the cabin. This early car didn't have a dashboard fitted and most of the cockpit remains shrouded in mystery – but we can vouch that Bentley is mixing the luxurious clubbiness of its olde-schoole saloons with a more contemporary vibe.

Craftsmanship is the name of the game here. Bentley's artisans will be kept fully employed on the new project, but there are – at last – gadgets galore too. State-of-the-art fibre optic cabling enables the latest in multimedia toys, including hard drives, radar cruise control and multimedia systems including drop-down TV screens built into the roof.

They'll even fit widescreen into the seat backs if you dip into the extensive options list. Being a Bentley, that means anything that catches your imagination – the Mulliner coachworks can mix any paint you desire and the only limit is the depth of your wallet.

So it's Bentley values translated to the 21st century?

Bingo. That's the marketing message for the Bentley Arnage replacement. Expect exquisite interior fit and finish, imperiously crushing performance and a car so refined you'll be able to hear your own watch ticking.

We'll report more fully on the new Bentley when it's officially unveiled at the Pebble Beach concours d'elegance in mid-August 2009. UK sales start later this year.

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By Tim Pollard

Executive editor

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