This Bentley Arnage has a greater combination of power and torque than any other production saloon car in the world. Its turbocharged and intercooled six and three-quarter litre Bentley V8 engine produces 400bhp (405PS, 298kW) and 619lb.ft. (835Nm) of torque.
Developed for the Arnage, every aspect of the engine has been designed to meet the requirements - and expectations - of the driver. Hand-assembled at Bentley Motors, it is refined, efficient and capable of effortless performance. On paper, the performance statistics speak for themselves. From a standing start, a Bentley Arnage Red Label accelerates to 60mph in 5.9 seconds (0-100kph in 6.3 secs), and through to 100mph (160kph) just over 9 seconds later, where conditions permit. Maximum speed is limited to 155mph (249kph), at which tyre and suspension refinement is maintained.
On the road, the manner in which this performance is achieved is all the more remarkable. Unlike most turbocharged motor cars, there is no delay in engine pick-up when the throttle is opened, the reserves of torque at low engine revs allowing an instant response before the turbocharger seamlessly cuts in at 1200rpm. The liquid cooled turbocharging system is particularly effective, increasing engine output both strongly and progressively as boost pressure rises. For overtaking, the engine management system permits a short period of turbocharger overboost, increasing the effect of the system by up to 85%. The result is a feeling of ceaseless acceleration from any engine speed, a tide of torque that appears to swell, but never subside.
The 'high torque, low revving' design of the six and three-quarter litre engine also makes the Arnage an extremely relaxed tourer. Having prodigious torque low in the rev range means that progress can be made without extending the engine beyond the quietest reaches of its operation. This heightens the impression of the engine refinement, but is not in itself responsible for it; close attention has been paid to the reduction of noise and vibrations to ensure that the engine is as unobtrusive as possible.
Unwelcome noise has been eliminated at every opportunity, from the exhaust system (tuneful and charismatic under full throttle, yet subdued around town or when cruising) to the cooling fan (which features unequally-spaced blades for minimal sound). And the innate smoothness of the engine's 90 degree 'V' configuration is improved even further through fine manufacturing tolerances and by individually balancing each engine during assembly.
For a motor car that offers spacious and comfortable accommodation, the Arnage has an agility that belies its size. Responsive steering allows the driver to place the motor car on the road with accuracy are surety, and as the Arnage is guided into a corner, feedback through the rim of the steering wheel provides a steady stream of information about the reserves of grip available. Tracking through a bend, the double-wishbone independent suspension operates quickly and effectively, the result of a rigid bodyshell and electronically-controlled hydraulic dampers than can react to changes in the car's attitude within 1/100th of a second.
To the driver, the sensation is one of being in control of a much smaller motor car, where response to driver input is immediate and weight-transfer under acceleration, braking and cornering is fully contained.
As well as accessing more aggressive suspension settings, the sports mode also affects the transmission, enacting an uncompromising gearshift pattern. Downward gearshifts can be induced with a lighter throttle opening, and gear ratios are held for longer, upshifts only occurring when the engine has reached maximum power.
Braking performance completes the dynamic profile, granting the driver total control over the motor car, and confidence when on the road. Servo-assisted, and featuring multi-channel anti-lock system, the brakes are capable of slowing Arnage swiftly and safely. Large single fist calipers clamp 348mm vented discs at the front, whilst 345mm vented discs are used at the rear; a set-up which allows Arnage to brake from 60mph to standstill in just 2.85 seconds (40 metres). Pedal feel always imparts confidence, accuracy and firmness helping the driver judge the exact amount of effort needed for the deceleration required.
The interior of the Arnage offers superb accommodation to its occupants, whether they are driving or being driven. Because noise and vibration through the engine, transmission, suspension and steering were addressed during the motor car's development, refinement is already impressive; a factor which contributes significantly to the quiet and relaxing cabin environment.
With a bodyshell which transfers less noise to the cabin, an extensive sound insulation programme - including triple element door seals to minimise wind and road noise - and ferric window glass to reflect sunlight and help keep cabin temperatures low in hot weather, the Arnage is an extremely comfortable motor car to travel in. The front seats are shouldered and bolstered to hold the occupant firmly in position during fast cornering, and the vertical fluting stitched into the hide evokes early Bentley motor cars. Electrically adjustable for height, rake and reach, and with dual lumbar adjustment and heating, their variable density foam cushioning provides comfort and support in equal measure.
For the driver, an elevated and natural driving position means that effortless progress can be made; the curved profile of the bonnet and wings helping placement of the motor car in the road, and all controls falling easily to hand to prevent any distraction. The parchment-faced instrument dials are clear and comprehensive, and stylishly complement the classic shapes, materials and textures found elsewhere in the interior.
Passengers will appreciate the space in the rear of the motor car, as legroom and headroom are considerable. Sitting in individually sculpted seats - which move to their rearward position when a rear door is opened to aid entry and exit - there is always room to work, or sit back and enjoy the journey.
Separate heating, air conditioning and ventilation controls allow each occupant to specify their own chosen temperature and airflow settings. Divided into two independent circuits, the climate control system is so flexible that side-to-side, split level (face/feet) and front-rear temperatures within the cabin can be set to differ by as much as +- 10 degrees celsius. When the engine has been switched off, residual heat from the coolant system can be used to maintain the temperature settings.
Air quality is maximised using pollen and dust micro-filters, and by the use of fresh air control: should ambient air pollution rise above a certain standard, the system automatically starts to recirculate the air inside the car until the quality of air outside the motor car reaches an acceptable level.
In Car Entertainment is available from a bespoke audio system with tuner, cassette player and multi-disc CD player. Four 35 Watt channels ensure a dramatic soundstage through the discrete speaker system, and the refined cabin also contributes to the quality of sound reproduction. When not in operation, the head unit is hidden beneath a veneered 'one-touch' panel.
The ability to make safe, relaxed progress in all driving conditions is the hallmark of a Bentley Arnage. Excellent visibility is afforded by the commanding driving position. Moreover, the agility and considerable performance of the motor car help the driver avoid potential hazardous situations in the first place.
Powerful brakes can slow the Arnage from high speeds, quickly and smoothly. Should the level of grip be compromised because of inclement weather conditions or a poor road surface, the four-channel anti-lock braking system activates, pulsing the brakes at up to 12 times a second and enabling directional control over the motor car to be maintained.
The ABS system works in conjunction with an advanced traction control system - Automatic Stability Control (ASC). As soon as the ignition of Arnage is switched on, ASC is engaged, monitoring traction to all wheels. Although the driver can always override the assistance it provides, ASC is an essential safety feature; when a tyre starts to slip, both engine management system and braking system can intervene to restore traction.
The primary (or 'active') safety of Arnage is supplemented by a number of secondary (or 'passive') safety features. The rigid steel body shell, designed using the latest computer technology to predict its behaviour in crash situations, is inherently strong. Impact-absorbing body sections, crumple zones and anti-intrusion beams in the doors help protect occupants in the event of a collision, and the driver and front seat passenger both have full-sized airbags to reduce the risk of injury. Inflating within milliseconds should they be required, the airbags* have gold-plated connectors whose corrosion resistance ensures the highest reliability.
With security on the open road comes security off it. A multi-function alarm and immobilisation system guards Arnage when parked. Owner-programmable, the system is highly versatile and offers a wide range of alarm, arming and courtesy options: the central locking system can be linked to the ignition to prevent doors from being opened externally when on the move; and headlights can be activated for a designated period when the motor car is locked at night, to provide illumination up to a doorway.