What's New for 2006
The stately Bentley Arnage glides into 2006 with no changes.
Back in the roaring '20s, a Bentley's claim to fame was success in motor racing. But amidst financial struggles the company was bought by Rolls-Royce in 1931 and soon the only way to tell a Bentley from a Rolls was by its radiator grille. The 1980s saw the Bentley division get back to its sporting ways with the introduction of the Turbo R sedan, and the 1990s saw BMW supplying engines to both prestigious English marques. Early in the 21st century, Bentley and Rolls went their separate ways: BMW took possession of the Rolls-Royce name, while Volkswagen kept the Bentley name and the plant in Crewe, England. Today's Arnage is a carryover from the previous era. It's rear-wheel drive and still uses a turbocharged BMW V8. The new generation of Bentley models, the Continental GT and Continental Flying Spur, make use of VW's turbocharged W12 and all-wheel-drive technology.
In spite of its advanced age, the Arnage has presence, and not just because it's longer than a Lincoln Navigator and weighs just as much. Understated rather than glamorous, the Arnage is devoid of any tacky styling elements. Close examination reveals lovely details, such as window frames that have no visible joints at their corners, appearing as a single piece rather than an assemblage containing unsightly seams. With leather and wood trim becoming commonplace in less prestigious nameplates, one might think that the Arnage's cabin has lost its "wow" factor. Rest assured it hasn't. A wide choice of custom colors and interior materials are available for those who wish to tailor the Arnage to their tastes. No matter how the car is ordered, the Arnage offers super-soft and comfortable seats and more interior space than many SUVs.
As for the driving aspect, the big Bentley offers performance more befitting a high-powered sport sedan than a near-3-ton luxury cruiser. A twin-turbocharged V8 and well-sorted suspension make the Arnage as much a treat for the driver as it is for passengers. Rationality doesn't play a big part in the purchase of a Bentley Arnage. Instead, it's about exclusivity and the thrill of owning an old-world automobile. Sure, the Arnage is fast, comfortable, elegant and well built by modern-day standards. But keep in mind that Bentley's own Continental Flying Spur is even faster, nearly as elegant and tens of thousands of dollars less expensive.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Bentley Arnage comes as a four-door sedan that is available in three styles: Arnage T, Arnage R and the longer-wheelbase Arnage RL. The Arnage R is the "mainstream" Arnage, offering a combination of luxury and performance that should satisfy anyone short of an oil-rich sultan. The Arnage T is the sportiest of the trio, and is one of the most powerful road cars in Bentley's illustrious history. The Arnage RL is at the opposite end of the spectrum, as it offers unparalleled opulence along with more room for those riding in the backseat. Bentley automobiles offer very high levels of customization. Fabrics and patterns can be handpicked by the customer from an existing selection, or Bentley can completely customize the interior colors to the customer's liking.
Powertrains and Performance
All Arnages come with a 6.8-liter, twin-turbo V8. In the Arnage T, that power plant is good for 450 horsepower and an astonishing 645 pound-feet of torque. The Arnage R and RL offer slightly less power at 400 hp and a still impressive 615 lb-ft of torque. As expected, the power delivery is seamless and insistent. Bentley claims that the Arnage R can hustle to 60 mph in under 6 seconds.
Arnage models come standard with stability control, traction control, side and head airbags for front and rear passengers, front and rear parking sensors and four-wheel ABS.
Interior Design and Special Features
Along with limousinelike room, the Arnage's cabin boasts classic English fashion, with lots of beautifully finished wood and leather trim. Despite the traditional ambience, just about every modern luxury feature is available, including a DVD entertainment system, personal computer with wireless keyboard, television set and a host of audio systems, including multi-CD changers and an MP3 player.
Given its nearly 3-ton girth, the Arnage is surprisingly nimble and athletic. This car corners with all the verve of a much smaller sedan. The Arnage, especially the T, handles commands from the driver so well that it's easy to forget the considerable mass being tossed around. Acceleration is downright impressive, but then again, more than 600 lb-ft of torque has a way of making anything feel quick. On the open highway, the Arnage has the stately feel one would expect of an ultraluxury car. There is little road noise, but some wind noise does make its way into the cabin.