Reinforcing its position as the only manufacturer to offer genuine coach built commissions, and following a year of significant growth, Bentley Mulliner is proud to reveal a new Arnage Limousine, built in direct response to the wishes of Bentley customers around the world.
Unlike cars such as the State Limousine or Bentley's popular high roof Arnage which are intended to present their occupants for ceremonial purposes, the new limousine has been designed for those who value their privacy above all else.
Instantly recognizable from other Bentley limousines by its broad D-pillar aft of the rear doors, the new limousine allows its rear seat passengers to sit deeply recessed within a unique and luxurious interior, well away from prying eyes's natural sight-line. Not only does this afford a considerable degree of security and seclusion, it also provides passengers with a beautifully cosseting environment, reminiscent of the great Bentley Speed Six and 8-litre limousines of the 1920s and early '30s.
One look at the limousine in profile shows how the styling changes have transformed the visual feel of the Arnage. The first and most important modification is the addition of an 18 inch section of bodywork within the wheelbase and, of course, fully engineered chassis modifications to accommodate its extra weight. As customers for such a car will almost invariably travel in the back, all this extra wheelbase has been given over to enhancing room in the rear with 8 inches of the extra length alone located in the D-pillar.
Creating such a car is a considerable challenge in terms of engineering, styling and craftsmanship but the commissioning and execution of precisely such vehicles Bentley Mulliner thrives on. By having a team of world class experts operating as a dedicated department within Bentley Motors, Bentley Mulliner can respond with extraordinary speed to satisfy its customers' desires. For this reason, creating a car of the new limousine's complexity - which might take another manufacturer three years or more- has been done from scratch by Mulliner in little more than six months.
The result is a car that not only offers peerless comfort and a sumptuous, spacious rear cabin; it is also aesthetically pleasing from every angle, inside and out. For while others may be able to make cars as large as the new limousine, the real skill comes from how the finished article appears, the ambience it achieves and the way it is perceived. The limousine is a large and majestic car but it is also subtle, discreet and avoids ostentation and vulgarity. It is the kind of car that cannot be conjured out of nowhere: it is the result not only of painstaking design and engineering, but also the innate understanding of such cars that has been handed down the generations at Crewe. This personalization is the commodity that cannot be bought or acquired and, among the world's luxury car makers, it exists only at Bentley.
Inside, the cabin of the limousine has been kept deliberately restrained, discreet and, it is fair to say, minimalist in execution. It would, of course, have been possible to fill the car with all manner of wonderful examples of Bentley Mulliner's unique skills but even the most comprehensively equipped car could only give a glimpse of Bentley Mulliner's capabilities. Instead, the idea that inspired the limousine's interior was that it should appear as a blank canvas to illustrate the fact that, within the bounds of legality and unlike any other car company, the interior of the car is the choice of the customer alone. Once it has finished its public duties, it will return to Bentley Mulliner to be equipped according to its new owner's specification.
In the meantime, twin, 12 inch DVD screens fitted into the rear of the front seats will provide prospective customers with the information and inspiration needed to whet the imagination's appetite and Bentley Mulliner specialists will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice.
"In the main," says Bentley Mulliner director Richard Charlesworth, "we are here to listen and respond. Our relationship with the customer is not like those of other car companies where you are told what you can have and you make your color and materials selection accordingly. That approach puts a very definite limit on what can be achieved - convenient for the car company but less satisfactory for the customer. We have no limits - if it can be done, within all normal bounds, we will do it."
Some luxury car companies are fond of quoting statistics concerning how many option permutations it is possible to choose from, a number Bentley Mulliner is delighted to be unable to provide as it is, effectively infinite. With a car like the new limousine, Bentley Mulliner will provide the chassis, engine and body (though even these can all also be modified to suit customer choice) but the look and feel of the interior can be as personal to the customer's wishes as he or she likes. "When specifying a limousine," says Charlesworth, "it would be quite typical for a customer to come to Crewe and spend two days talking to our designers and engineers about their requirements. Many also choose to see our cabinet makers, seamstresses and metal workers going about their business with a dedication, care and love for their work that has all but disappeared from an increasingly time-hungry industry."
Other features of the new limousine include an unusually small rear windscreen to enhance the feeling of privacy inside and electric footrests that slide back and up to provide perfect support for your calves when relaxing.
Bentley Mulliner has also made use of the space inside the extended D-pillar. By carefully choosing softly padded but supportive substrates behind the pillar's upholstery, Mulliner has created the perfect resting place for a sleepy head. Specially extended rear headrests also help cradle the cranium. New illuminated vanity mirrors have also been designed into the D-pillar, providing passengers with the perfect way to check their appearance before leaving the privacy of the car.
To enhance further comfort, the rear door has been redesigned too, to reflect the fact that the passengers will now be somewhat further away thanks to the 200mm (8 inches) extension to the body between the rear door and wheel. In particular the armrest has been reworked and extended rearward while a further rest acts as a continuation of the armrest inside the D-pillar.
Naturally, the limousine also benefits from all the modifications announced for the 2005 model year Arnage. These enhancements are designed to supplement the extensive mechanical changes introduced with the Series Two Arnage in 2002 and improve the appearance, comfort and ease of use of all Arnages.
Most notable from the outside is the revised frontal treatment of the car which gives the Arnage a much stronger visual identity within the Bentley family, a styling direction evolved for the Continental GT Coupe. Twin individual headlamps are fitted and the bonnet line raised to give a more purposeful appearance. New bumpers are fitted and telescopic headlamp washer units replace the previous bumper mounted items. The radiator grille has a more integrated appearance and straight grille vanes are once more available.
Inside the center console has been completely revised with new, unique switchgear for the air-conditioning controls, repositioned controls for the window winders, seats and mirror adjusters. The satellite navigation system has been re-engineered to give a more integrated, attractive appearance on top of the dashboard.
Powering the limousine is of course Bentley's legendary 6.75-litre turbocharged V8. Recently re-engineered from the ground up, the 400bhp powerplant offers performance aplenty and mighty low down torque, the hallmark of all Bentleys.
This new Bentley Arnage limousine is proof positive that the company remains unique in the way it listens and responds to its customers and in its ability to provide them with limousines with an unrivalled blend of luxury, elegance, technology and coachbuilding. It is a tradition that has survived since Bentley's earliest days and has been in practice at Crewe since its very first car, a Bentley MkVI, was produced 58 years ago. No other car manufacturer can approach this wealth of tradition, nor match the skills that result. Crewe is the home of handcraftsmanship, and Bentley Mulliner's new Limousine, its latest extraordinary creation.