What's New for 2007
The Bentley Arnage enters 2007 with more power, a new transmission, subtle styling changes, a less intrusive stability control system and a tire-pressure monitor.
When Volkswagen took control of the storied Bentley make in the late '90s, it quickly set about to infuse the stodgy British automaker with modern design, German engineering and an expanded lineup of models accessible to the merely rich instead of the absurdly rich. For the most part, VW has been successful, but keeping a toehold in the past is the 2007 Bentley Arnage, which upholds the marque's tradition of building big, bold, unabashedly British touring sedans. Whereas other high-luxury sedans tout their precision engineering and supreme levels of refinement, the Arnage brings old-money prestige and acres of wood trim to the table.
While most sedans in this price range use a 12-cylinder engine, the 2007 Bentley Arnage drives its rear wheels with a twin-turbocharged 6.8-liter V8 whose 738 pound-feet of torque make a Corvette look like a Cobalt (though the Arnage's corpulent 5,700-pound body somewhat dampens the effect). New turbochargers boost that engine's output by 50 horsepower in all models in 2007, gas gets gulped at the rate of 12 mpg and the Arnage's imposing wide-eyed look means business. Not exactly what you'd call inconspicuous consumption. Ride quality is as plush as you'd expect it to be in a $200K luxury sedan, but with the Arnage's aged platform, handling is by no means as precise or refined as in the Bentley's newer, more sophisticated competition.
Bentley character is also evident throughout the Arnage's interior, which is famous for being vast in room and opulent in feel, though sometimes confusing and inconsistent in layout. Such inconsistency is the result of imposing modern-day technology in a cabin whose original design was conceived decades ago.
Overall, we think anyone planning to blow the bank on a car should think about going the extra monetary mile to get everything right. Newer engineering, a more rewarding drive and more regal interior furnishings can be found within the Maybach 57 and Rolls-Royce Phantom. The same holds true for Bentley's own VW-engineered (and $50,000 cheaper) Continental Flying Spur sedan, not to mention many of the less prestigious German touring sedans. Still, if rarity and British boisterousness mean more to you than any other measurement of merit, the 2007 Bentley Arnage might be right up your alley.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Bentley Arnage sedan comes in three trims: the $230K "mainstream" Arnage R, the sportier $250K Arnage T and the stretched $270K Arnage RL. Those who demand absolute power look to the Arnage T for its 50-hp edge, while the Arnage RL's extra 10 inches of body and wheelbase should please those seeking more backseat room than they could ever use. Aside from being loaded at all levels, with 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, power front seats with four-position driver memory, reclining rear seats, tri-zone climate control, DVD navigation, Bluetooth, and front and rear parking sensors, Bentley offers plenty of customization options for colors, materials, wheels, badging and entertainment systems.
Powertrains and Performance
All Arnages now use Bentley's long-running 6.8-liter V8, which evolves for 2007 with Mitsubishi twin turbos that spool up faster than last year's. With 500 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque in Arnage T trim, this engine works with a new six-speed automatic transmission to rocket the huge rear-wheel-drive sedan to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. The Arnage R and RL's 450 horsepower provide slightly less speed, but with torque rated at 645 lb-ft, expect either of these Arnages to feel more forceful than their numbers suggest.
Bentley loads up every 2007 Arnage with side and head airbags for front and rear passengers, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front and rear parking sensors and a tire-pressure monitor. No agency has crash-tested the Arnage, but with 5,700 pounds and loads of crush space at both ends, the laws of physics are on Bentley's side.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Bentley Arnage continues the classic English fashion of beautifully finished leather and wood surroundings, all arranged for an opulent old-world feel. Upgrading to the new world is as easy as checking the option boxes for DVD, dual-screen LCD TVs, Alpine six-disc MP3 CD changer, or – no kidding – a personal computer with wireless keyboard. The mood of luxury is somewhat spoiled by a cheap-feeling turn signal stalk and aesthetically mismatched stereo and navigation systems that desperately need ergonomic help. Still, the Arnage is still a one-of-a-kind place with stretch-out space for five.
The 2007 Bentley Arnage has big power, big torque and big brakes to go with its big size. Naturally, all this bigness results in the none-too-small number of a 5,700-pound curb weight, which keeps performance at rather average levels for a luxury car. More linearity in the throttle and brakes wouldn't hurt, either, nor would more feel in the steering. Still, the massive torque makes the Arnage feel alert at any speed. In addition, some will equate the heavy-handed way in which the Bentley goes about its work with luxury and stateliness -- qualities that extend to the way the Arnage absorbs bumps and road noise on the open highway.