Used 2002 Bentley Arnage Sedan Review

Although the Arnage is supremely capable, you could save $100,000 and get an even more capable BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class.




what's new

Bentley introduced the high-performance Arnage T model at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. The T is to Bentley as R is to Jaguar or M is to BMW, and this special Arnage makes 450 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of twisting force. To help deal with this onslaught of power, engineers added a rear antiroll bar and a thicker antiroll bar in front, and firmed up the spring rates in the front. Standard equipment includes an electronic stability program (the first ever to appear in a Bentley vehicle); side curtain and chest airbags; a DVD-based navigation system and Park Distance Control. The "lesser" Red Label sedan reaps a $5,000 increase in its base price but is otherwise unchanged -- if you're lucky, you might be able to come by one of the special-edition Le Mans models released in 2001. Later in 2002, a thoroughly reworked Arnage R, introduced at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show, will replace the Red Label. The R picks up all of the modern safety equipment in the Arnage T, as well as suspension modifications and a recalibrated version of the latter's twin-turbo engine -- trading off some of the power for added refinement.

vehicle overview

Since its introduction at Le Mans in 1998, the Bentley Arnage Sedan (or saloon, if you want to sound like someone who deserves to drive a Bentley) has represented the company's desire to combine rapid people-moving and sporty driving character.

For 2002, the lineup includes the Arnage Red Label and the high-performance Arnage T; later in the model year, a structurally and mechanically reworked saloon called the Arnage R will replace the Red Label. Whilst the Red Label and its successor, the R, radiate a stately, traditional Bentley aura, the Arnage T appears destined for sport with its integrated rear spoiler, Black Label badge, new front bumper with lower air dam and refreshing lack of chrome trim around the front fascia.

Powering the Red Label is a turbocharged 6.75-liter V8 worthy of 400 horsepower and an outrageous 616 pound-feet of torque. Just to clarify, that's nearly 250 lb-ft more than the land-based rocket ship known as the BMW M5. This engine is hooked to a four-speed automatic with adaptive shift control to "learn" the operator's driving characteristics.

The Arnage R will drop the Red Label's single turbocharger for twin units; power output is essentially the same, but you can expect a more responsive, more refined delivery. What's more, this and other engine upgrades have resulted in reduced emissions. Like the Red, the R will hustle to 60 mph in a mere 5.9 seconds. This would be impressive for most cars, but remember that this one weighs 5,700 pounds before anyone gets inside.

Of course at prices this steep, you can never have too much power, and so Bentley also offers the Arnage T. The T has a higher-output version of the R's twin-turbo 6.75-liter V8 that produces a staggering 450 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of twisting force. This is good enough for 5.5-second 0-60 runs.

All Arnages ride on a fully independent, double-wishbone suspension front and rear that is backed up by a computer-controlled active suspension system, which makes continual adjustments to the dampening rates in response to road conditions. Traction control and ride height control are also included. The Arnage R and T benefit from the addition of a rear antiroll bar as well as a thicker front antiroll bar -- these changes will cut down on body roll during cornering. In order to give the Arnage T a sportier ride, engineers firmed up in the spring rates in the front. Bentley wanted the R to be a bit more sporting than the outgoing Red Label while offering even greater comfort, so it gets slightly softer spring rates. The T and the R are the first Bentleys to include stability control (Electronic Stability Program), which was already a requisite luxury among high-end German cars.

The cabins are richly trimmed in Connolly leather and wood; the Arnage T comes standard with a sportier cabin ensemble, including darker stained wood (aluminum trim is optional), while the R embraces the traditional with burr walnut inlays. Standard features include 18-inch alloys with 255/50YR18 performance rubber; a DVD-based navigation system; front and rear parking sensors; side-impact and head-curtain airbags for front and rear passengers; and memory for the front seats, steering wheel and all mirrors. (The airbags are new to the Arnage R and T and aren't available for the Red Label). As you would expect, the company will furnish any Arnage to suit individual desires.

We have a hard time recommending cars that cost more than the average price of a home in America, but we're crazy like that. For people who spend money like it's got "Monopoly" written all over it, the Arnage makes a fine conveyance from point A to point B. And don't forget to make your friends and colleagues call it a "saloon" when they show up asking for a ride.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.