2005 Los Angeles Auto Show, Part II Page 3

January 4, 2005

BMW isn’t ready to give up on gasoline, however, and it also lifted the covers on its Competition Package for the already quick M3 model. Think of the $4000 package as “the razor’s edge,” asserted Purves. It includes 19-inch forged alloy wheels, a modified steering and suspension system, less intrusive stability control, and beefier, 13.6-inch brake rotors. The Competition Package will go on sale in February.


Bentley Drops Heads, Jaws on Arnage

2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe

2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe

Enlarge Photo
While it’s too early to say which cars debuting in Los Angeles will fall in the winners and losers categories, there’s no denying the attention being lavished on Bentley’s striking Arnage Drophead Convertible. Officially, the two-door ragtop is still a concept, cautioned the British marque’s CEO, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, but likely not for long. If it receives the same sort of reception from the public it is getting from the automotive media, “We will launch the production car in spring 2006,” he acknowledged. The Drophead would be Bentley’s first open-air model since the Azure went out of production two years ago. It features plenty of room for four adults and a top that fully retracts in less than 30 seconds. Based on the big Arnage chassis, it also shares the 450-horsepower, turbo V-8 powertrain featured in the Arnage T.


…And Could Share Phaeton Plant

The Drophead is likely to be a limited-production model, even by Bentley standards, Paefgen later told TheCarConnection.com, with sales expected to run no more than 1000 over the entire life of the program. Meanwhile, it could be joined by a second Bentley convertible, this one derived from the popular Continental GT sports coupe. Sales of the $150,000 Conti GT well exceeded expectations last year and while final numbers won’t be available until next week, at the earliest, Bentley’s global volume likely approached 6000 in 2004. With a sedan spin-off due to market later this year, the fate of the convertible is unclear because Bentley simply can’t keep up with current demand for the new car. But it may get some relief in the form of a second assembly plant — the factory currently producing the Volkswagen Phaeton, in Dresden, Germany. That facility could produce as much as 20 percent of all Continental GTs, VW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder told TCC. And because bodies for the Conti are already produced in Germany, they wouldn’t have to be shipped over to Britain for final assembly, reducing overall production costs.

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