Bentley has "reached the solution" in its search for a new Arnage. Its long-lived and largest saloon, which currently sells 600 to 800 units a year, will be replaced with an all-new design due in about two years' time. The new 2010 model won't just be a modified version of the Continental Flying Spur, official sources have confirmed. The Arnage and all future Bentleys will use a version of Audi's spaceframe chassis, Autocar has learnt from an Audi source in Germany.Despite the radical engineering, which should remove around 150kg from the weight of the bodyshell alone, Bentley chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen emphasised that the new Arnage will continue to have the unique proportions of the current model, particularly the traditional high roof and seating position, that give the car its "soul".Bentley has confirmed it is not close to launching either diesel or hybrid versions of its cars, because most recent research indicates that few buyers want it. "We have the technology to do a diesel right now," said Paefgen, "but whether we do it really depends on how successful VW, Mercedes and others are at normalising diesel sales in the US."Bentley could never lead the field in that area. You could only ever respond to a strong demand."The company's possible future requirements have been included in recent VW-Audi hybrid research, however, and it also has easy access to Audi's big-capacity V10 and V12 engines. Despite global concern over high oil prices, it has recently built an Arnage prototype powered by the 987bhp Bugatti W16 engine.Bugatti wants to find new uses for its legendary quad-turbo unit, which is hugely expensive to make and underutilised as power for the million-pound supercar alone.

Steve Cropley