For the $250,000 sticker price of the Bentley Arnage R, one could buy a loaded Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG that will run circles around the Arnage R in every way – including exclusivity – and still have enough money left over to buy a well equipped BMW 5 Series. Not only has the quality of volume production cars drastically improved, luxury cars of today are frequently technologically superior to the status cars of the ultra-luxury class. Today's modern masterpieces are loaded with laser guidance systems for parking and cruise control, massaging and cooling seats that counteract lateral cornering forces, night vision and computer based technology for everything from the audio system to suspension settings, and list goes on and on. Regardless, it seems there are still enough high rollers who can appreciate a hand-built custom carriage from Bentley and are willing to lay down the cash for the privilege of ownership despite the lack of modern conveniences.
buying a Bentley differs from buying a series production car. When laying down the kind of cash necessary to acquire an Arnage R, you pretty much get to build the car to your liking. Bentley offers 40 different paint colors plus the option of adding a two-tone scheme to your new ride. A choice of 27 interior leather options, including piping on the seats and headrests, complements any exterior color. As Bentley states in its press materials for the Arnage: “The only constraints are of imagination, and perhaps the broad bands of good taste."
While the Arnage R comes with a 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 pounding out 616 lb.-ft. of torque, buyers have the ability to step it up and opt for the Arnage T which is powered by a stronger version of the V8 delivering 450 horsepower and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. Both cars run this power through a dinosaur of a four-speed transmission. Standard for the R and RL models are six-spoke, 18-inch wheels with the option of adding 12-spoke, 19-inch wheels if you like. The 19-inch wheels are standard on the most powerful model, the Arnage T. A DVD-based satellite navigation system has been integrated into the dash of the Arnage for a cleaner look while improvements to the rear suspension are claimed to have improved handling and ride qualities.
Whatever your idea of exclusivity and luxury, the Bentley Arnage R still carries the old school charm and appeal despite lacking the new school technologies.
Fun to Drive
Price of Test Vehicle: $250,230 (includes $2,595 destination fee and $5,400 gas guzzler tax)
Engine Size and Type : 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8
Engine Horsepower: 400 at 4,000 rpm
Engine Torque: 616 lb.-ft. at 3,250 rpm
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight, Lbs.: 5,699
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 10/14 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy: 9 mpg
Length: 212.2 inches
Width: 76.1 inches
Wheelbase: 122.7 inches
Height: 59.7 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Five
Legroom (front/rear): 40.2/41.3 inches
Headroom (front/rear): 38.9/NA
Max. Cargo Volume:13 cu.-ft.
Competitors: Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG
Despite several shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Bentley Arnage on a blazingly hot day in Newport Beach, Calif. Even in this tony seaside enclave that houses the rich and famous, people took notice of the Arnage, a car less popular car in that region than the less expensive but altogether more satisfying Continental Flying Spur. It's clear, however, that the Arnage is an aged automobile, one that was perhaps not fully baked when it first went on sale around the turn of the century. The twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder engine was loud, the squeaking brakes filled the cabin with a burning metallic scent after light use, the steering assist faded if the wheel was twisted too rapidly, and the structure didn't feel as rigid as many of today's midsize family cars let alone other ultra-luxury sedans. Add flawed ergonomics and a navigation system that didn't work to the mix, and it would be easy to write the Arnage off as all style, zero substance. Truth is, that's not far off the mark. Get a load of that wire mesh grille, that stately design, that luscious caramel leather, those classic gauges, and all that gleaming wood trim accented by twinkling chrome. That's what the Bentley Arnage is all about: looking good. Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed driving it on a blazingly hot day in Newport Beach, Calif.
Bentley Arnage – Thom Blackett's Opinion:
Wow. A simple mono-syllabic word that suggests that something is so incredibly magnificent that one is at a temporary loss for more eloquent verbiage. Or, in the case of the 2006 Bentley Arnage, it can mean “Wow. People actually pay a quarter mil' for this thing?"
It was an interesting week for test cars – we had a Mercedes-Benz S550, the Bentley, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom, with the $250,000 Bentley landing a notch higher than the $100,000 Benz and below the $350,000 Rolls. To say that the Bentley was overpriced would be an understatement of monumental proportions. Interior materials were admittedly top-notch, unless you noticed the carpets fraying around the door edges and the warped plastic vent panel atop the dash. However, you'll only notice those things if you're not already flustered by the loud and stiff ride, the unrefined powertrain grumble, the ponderous steering, and the unresponsive brakes. Plus, the excess sheet metal used to make the rear window appear smaller just looks odd. As if those concerns weren't enough, I was honestly dumbfounded to discover our $250,000 test car lacked a rear entertainment system, rear sound controls, rear window shades, or properly-positioned and thus usable rear trays. Yes, it has a Bentley badge, but from my perspective, that simply represents money wasted when an overall better automobile, such as the S550, can be had in duplicate with money left over for some custom rims.
Photos by Ron Perry