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Automotive Intelligence News

News of  March 06, 2002
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World debut of the new Bentley Arnage R at the Geneva Motor Show

Bentley Arnage R

Photo: RRBM

Geneva - Making its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show, The Bentley Arnage R is the latest addition to Bentley's Series Two Arnage family. The Arnage T debuted in January as an ultra-high performance flagship, breaking new ground for both company and class. The Arnage R now takes up its position in the family as the direct replacement for the Arnage Red Label, reinforcing Bentley's reputation for highly refined grand touring cars.

Though visually even more understated than the Arnage T, the 'R' has benefited from the same end to end structural and mechanical transformation and can equally be considered to be a new car inside a familiar body.

The Arnage R remains emphatically a high performance saloon (indeed the Arnage T is the only four door car on sale with more torque), with a clear focus on providing Bentley's customers with a sublimely refined and comfortable carriage.

Engine And Transmission

The engine fitted to the Arnage R is essentially that used by the Arnage T, but entirely recalibrated to provide yet more refined responses at the expense of some power and torque. The Arnage R engine produces 400bhp (298kW) at 4000rpm and 616lb ft (835Nm) of torque at 3250rpm. Top speed for the Arnage R is 155mph, while 0-60mph can still be achieved in just 5.9 seconds.

The engine itself is a radical reinterpretation of the famed 6.75-litre V8 engine that has served in every Bentley since 1970. So far reaching are the changes that only its basic architecture and internal dimensions remain as before.

Most notable is the adoption of twin Garrett T3 turbochargers to replace the single T4 used since the launch of the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo in 1982.

Two small turbochargers not only have less inertia and therefore faster response times, but also allow the use of close-coupled catalytic converters, located near the exhaust manifold. This allows the catalytic converters to heat up extremely quickly, swiftly reaching operating temperature and thereby reducing emissions.

A key modification is the inclusion of a Bosch Motronic ME7.1 engine management system. This state of the art system is central to the engine's ability to minimize emissions. It does this by bringing an unprecedented level of control to a wide range of engine parameters, from boost levels and detonation control to exhaust temperatures. In addition to this, it has also facilitated the fitment of ESP - Electronic Stability Programme - that advances the Arnage's active safety far beyond the level reached by the conventional traction control system fitted to the previous generation Arnage.

Like the Arnage T, the Arnage R also features new fabricated, twin-skin exhaust manifolds which heat quickly and further reduce emissions while their tuned exhaust lengths improve both efficiency and sound quality.

The aims of such enhancements, and the legion of revisions to the engine block and cylinder heads, were to produce quicker and smoother responses right across the rev-range while, at the same time, dramatically reducing emissions with the result that the new engine meets all emissions legislation until 2005.

The gearbox is carried over from the previous generation Arnage. Its exceptional smoothness and extraordinary torque handling characteristics ensures it remains the best transmission for the Series Two Arnage.

Body Structure

The body strengthening measures already seen on the Arnage T are carried over in their entirety to the Arnage R. There is a new brace inside the wheel arches, strengthened sills, an extra roof bow and a reinforced front bulkhead.

Additional detailed changes such as the use of adhesive bonding materials and tougher mounts for the steering rack have resulted in an improvement in body in white dynamic stiffness. This brings many real world benefits including better handling, improved ride quality and enhanced crash protection.

The opportunity was also taken to install ISOfix child seat mounting points in the rear of the car. The majority of conventional child seats are incorrectly fitted and by providing points where an ISOfix seat can be plugged straight into the structure of the car, this risk is removed.

Chassis

Nowhere are the contrasting objectives of the Arnage R and T more apparent than in their chassis configuration. For while pure handling prowess is at the top of the Arnage T's agenda, the Arnage R has been set up to provide a balanced blend of handling and ride comfort. The result is a car slightly more sporting in feel than the out-going Arnage Red Label yet even more comfortable.

Chief among many chassis modifications is the fitment of a rear anti-roll bar. This allows a greater degree of control over the body movement during cornering while creating greater scope for Bentley's engineers to fine-tune the Arnage R's chassis using spring and damper rates.

After careful evaluation in both the virtual and real world, slightly softer springs were selected, with the variable rate dampers tuned to suit.

However the fitment of a rear anti-roll bar and a thicker front roll bar has resulted in an increase in overall roll stiffness.

For the Arnage R, the result is the most comfortable, cosseting ride of any Bentley. Improvements have been achieved in both primary and secondary ride comfort while, at the same time, making the car substantially more responsive to the helm, amply satisfying the enthusiast that lies within all Bentley drivers.

Other chassis improvements common to both new Arnages include new hydraulic mounts for the engine and gearbox reduce vibration and enhance refinement, more linear steering and a stiffer mounting for the steering rack.

The wheels for the Bentley Arnage R are an 18in six spoke alloy design, with a chrome finish as an option. They are fitted with asymmetric 255/50 YR 18 Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

Styling

In keeping with Bentley's philosophy of understated elegance, styling changes have been kept to a minimum. The red badge is carried over from the previous model and the only key exterior indication of the changes that lie beneath the skin is the gently upturned lip of the boot spoiler. The chromium brightwork deleted from the front, back and side of the Arnage T is retained on the Arnage R.

The cabin has an instantly traditional feel to it, replacing the dark stained wood and optional engine turned aluminium found on the Arnage T with burr walnut. But perhaps most notable in a wide range of enhancements are the seats. Bentley is one of just a few manufacturers left in the world to design and manufacture their seats entirely in-house, and has spent two years building CAD-profiles of the best seats on the market against which to benchmark its own products. The result is seats that offer both more comfort and support, while providing a much more sporting look.

(March 05, 2002)

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