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Sep 2005

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



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Article by
Daniele Carnevali


After its success at recent exhibitions in Geneva and Los Angeles, the English firm Bentley is about to launch on the market (probably next summer) the aristocratic and magnificent "Arnage Drophead Coupé".



The new model, developed on the platform of the updated Arnage version, signals the return of Bentley to the 4- passenger convertible market, from which it has been absent since 2003 when it stopped making the "Azure". Stylistically, the "Drophead Coupé" is a typical Bentley. The impressive size, the honeycomb radiator grille boasting the famous winged coat of arms... these are Bentley hallmarks. Compared to the "Azure", which, along with the famous "Continental Drophead Coupé" designed in 1955 by the Park Ward studio, was the inspiration for this new model, the "Drophead Coupé" has more internal volume as well as an updated design, practically identical at the front to the standard "Arnage 2005" and quite revolutionary at the rear. Just a glance is sufficient to see the difference between this convertible and the Arnage due to the fabric top (which closes electrically in only 25 seconds) and to the more inclined profile of the windscreen, which makes the new Bentley 35-mm lower than the "closed" version. The rear lighting is completely original in design and adopts the LED technology previously experimented with on the "Continental GT", while the forward lamps, with chromed edges, recall those used for the "Arnage". The bodywork, painted a splendid "Meteor Blue", contrasts softly with the finishing and chromed parts, such as the skirts, mirrors and 19-inch alloy rims. The interior, designed by the Bentley team in collaboration with the Norwegian designer, Olav Eldoy, are elegant and finished with luxurious materials, with all the typical charm of Bentley craftsmanship. The upholstery of the model shown in Los Angeles was in "Cotswold" and "Nautic Blue" leather, while for the bridge and the inserts for the steering wheel and doors, Bentley opted for oak root and box wood. The layout of the interior, while inspired by the preceding "Continental Cabriolet", boasts new seats, suspended armrests and a sophisticated system for variable lighting. The dashboard features a tachometer and speedometer enclosed into large circular units with chromed edges. These units also contain the display for the onboard computer. In the centre of the bridge, we find the water- and oil temperature indicators, the fuel level and clock, while, on the transmission hump, the various controls have been positioned, including those for the air-conditioning and the button to deactivate the ESP. The chromed air vents, a traditional Crewe touch, open and close by means of piston buttons. Seating is equally comfortable on all of the four seats, with ample movement room, even for the legs of those on the rear seats. From the technical point of view, the "Drophead Coupé"differs from the standard "Arnage" with the adoption of frame reinforcements in the windscreen and under-body. In addition, in order to increase onboard safety, a system has been installed to protect passengers in the case of overturning. The system, once it detects the possibility of the vehicle turning over, immediately activates two roll bars built into the back of the headrests. The roll bars, along with the solid structure of the frame, are able to bear the entire weight of the "Drophead Coupé". The suspension system is the same as that recently adopted for the "Arnage R" and consists of a double triangulation of the forecarriage and real axle, helical springs and a computerised system for electronic calibration of the electro-hydraulic shock absorbers. The self-adjusting shock absorber solution, combined with electronic systems such as ESP, EDB and ABS, make this vehicle a classic Bentley, that is, absolutely comfortable. The unique LED rear lighting units use a new technology experimented with for the "Continental GT". The engine is a double turbo-charged V-8 with 6.75 litre intercooler similar to that used on the "Arnage R", boasts 450 horsepower at 4100 rpm and 875 Nm of engine torque at only 3250 rpm. The engine, equipped with a 4-speed, self-adapting automatic transmission, is able to drive the Bentley to a speed of 270 km/h and to bring it to a speed of 100 km/h from a standstill in only 5.7 seconds. Very likely, the future owners of this "Arnage Drophead Coupé" will not have the opportunity to let this engine express all of its exuberance. What's more, as with every Bentley, this model is much more enjoyable at gentler speeds, perhaps with the top down, cruising along the C“te d'Azur, for example.

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