The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Only money can't buy a Bentley
- Icon of luxury hits town with Rs 2.5-cr tag, but just three are available

New Delhi, Jan. 31: You may have Rs 2.5 crore to splurge on a car, still you can't lay your hands on an Arnage RL. There are three others in the queue before you.

The Arnage RL rolled into town today, sporting a sticker price of Rs 2.5 crore. But its British maker Bentley Motors said it plans to bring in only three cars this year.

For those who might be ignorant enough to wonder if there are three Indians rich enough ' and ready enough ' to pay that kind of money for getting from one place to another, here's enlightenment: the demand is for six.

'Our production facility in Manchester has allotted only three cars this year in the Arnage RL category against a request for six such cars from India,' says Ian Gorusch, regional director, West Asia, Africa and India.

That's probably no surprise. In the year of the Bentley's launch in 1921 in Britain, William Owen Bentley, the owner, delivered only 21 cars.

The Arnage RL is British to its very core. And the British best embody the figure of speech called litotes: understatement. For a moment, forget the 6.75-litre engine.

Unlike the proud Teutonic three-pointed star on the Mercedes, the Mulliner badge on the Arnage RL is subtle and muted, almost self-effacing. The Arnage is a custom-built limousine, though in true British style it calls itself a four-door saloon.

The Arnage RL is definitely not the most expensive car to have hit the Indian roads, though the cognoscenti put it right up there with the finest luxury cars in the world.

Last year, DaimlerChrysler launched the Maybach at a steep Rs 5 crore, earning it the sobriquet of the world's most expensive luxury car.

Bentley, which started selling its cars in the Indian market from 2003, has sold 10 cars so far here.

Gorusch prefers to talk about what the company has to offer in the future. 'Towards the end of this year, we are going to offer a saloon version of the Continental GT, the car which was launched last year by the company.'

Bentley had kicked off sales in India with the Arnage R, which carries a price tag of Rs 2 crore.

The Bentley cars are sold through a sole dealer in Delhi. It is now looking to extend its distributorship to Mumbai later this year.

The Arnage RL has 250 mm more legroom in the back over the standard wheelbase Arnage.

Satya Prakash Bagla, managing director of Bentley New Delhi, says: 'The Bentley has the unique position of truly bespoke cars, or custom-made cars.'

He says all luxury cars were once custom built but today it is almost a lost art. But at Bentley the old skills are used even today.

Last year, DaimlerChrysler unveiled the Maybach with a lot of fanfare at its Pune plant. Daimler India's president, Hans-Michael Huber, handed over the keys of the first car to pan masala king Rasiklal Dhariwal, owner of the Manikchand brand. He had bought the car for his daughter on her 21st birthday.

In true British style, Bentley blanches at the thought of such exhibitionism: so it won't talk about its customers who have bought earlier models. Nor does it want to talk about those who have lined up to buy the Arnage RL.

It may not be wise for the buyers to flaunt their expensive toy either, seeing what happened to Dhariwal. An arrest warrant is out for him for alleged connections to the underworld.

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