Like the words "ye olde" and "thou art," the Bentley Arnage is a relic from a different British time. Its basic profile is none too different from 1980s Bentleys, while the twin-turbocharged V8 is derived from an engine originally designed in the 1950s. These are the fading visages of Bentley's past: one that is irrevocably tied to Rolls-Royce, but one that has been replaced by a high-tech future courtesy of Volkswagen's new ownership. But despite the introduction of the Continental Flying Spur, the Arnage is still Bentley's grand flagship and a super luxury sedan for those who lust after old-world lavishness and prodigious power without much concern for the latest engineering innovation.
Current Bentley Arnage
The Bentley Arnage is available in three trims: the regular Arnage R, the stretched-wheelbase Arnage RL and higher-performance Arnage T. All are powered by Bentley's venerable 6.75-liter V8, twin-turbocharged to produce massive power. That power is slightly more massive in the Arnage T, with 500 horsepower and an Earth-shaking 738 pound-feet of torque. With power flowing to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, the Arnage T is capable of zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. The R and RL get by with 450 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque.
As a quarter-million-dollar British luxury sedan, it should come as no surprise that the Arnage comes loaded with creature comforts and copious amounts of wood and leather. Items like reclining rear seats, tri-zone climate control, DVD navigation, Bluetooth and park assist are modern touches that make this old-school motorcar a little more 21st-century friendly. Plus, bespoke options like special colors, materials, wheels, badging and entertainment systems allow a Bentley owner to meticulously create their dream car.
While there's no denying the Bentley Arnage is a beautiful automobile, it lacks the newer engineering, driving dynamics and higher levels of posh and prestige of its Rolls-Royce and Maybach competitors. True, those sedans are even more expensive, but if you can afford an Arnage, we have a sneaking suspicion you can also pony up a few more $10,000 bills for a Phantom or Maybach 57. It's also worth checking out Bentley's own Continental Flying Spur, which rings in about $50,000 cheaper, and features newer technology and design. Of course, these are all logical arguments against buying a Bentley Arnage, and when it comes to buying one of these super luxury automobiles, logic seldom has anything to do with it.
Past Bentley Arnage models
The Bentley Arnage was introduced in 1998 and gradual changes have been made over the years to make it more powerful and up-to-date in terms of high-tech creature comforts. It most recently received power, transmission and styling changes for 2007.
When the Arnage arrived, Rolls-Royce and Bentley were still partners. Initially, it was powered by a BMW-sourced twin-turbocharged V8, but when Volkswagen purchased Bentley in 1999, the bosses in Wolfsburg were loath to continue lining their Bavarian competitors' pockets (especially after BMW swiped Rolls-Royce from under VW's nose). Bentley loyalists also never warmed to the German engines, preferring Bentley's torquey old 6.75-liter turbo V8. By 2001, all Arnages were indeed powered by this engine, albeit thoroughly updated by Volkswagen's engineers.
Initially, the Bentley Arnage was available in Green Label and Red Label trim levels, whose differences mainly related to the engine. The Green Label disappeared after 2000, while the Red Label was replaced by the Arnage R for 2002. The latter featured the modern safety equipment, suspension modifications and recalibrated twin-turbo V8 of the Arnage T introduced a year earlier. The R and T differed in power outputs, however. The long-wheelbase RL arrived for 2003, while there were significant exterior styling changes made to all Arnages for 2005.