Bentley Arnage Saloon 1998-2009

Bentley Arnage Saloon 1998-2009

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • A well designed car in and out
  • Great dynamic characteristics
  • High equipment level

Cons:

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Takes time to get used to its excessive dimensions

Overview

The Bentley Arnage was introduced in 1998 as the first all-new Bentley since 1980. It is unified with the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, but has design differences in the front and rear ends plus an entirely different cabin design. The Arnage's debut coincided with the ownership change as the traditional British car manufacturer was sold to Volkswagen Group

Exterior and Interior

The Arnage replaced the long-standing Brooklands model. It has retained the recognisable silhouette but is an entirely new car. The body lines have been smoothed out, adding curves and sophistication. It's a gorgeous car with plenty of style and refinement. But, it's not only visual improvements that the Arnage features, its body structure has been reworked improving rigidity by 65%. The interior of the Arnage is difficult to describe, where do you begin? It's large and spacious. The car is wide enough for the rear seat to be slept on. However, it is rather designed for sitting ‐ and you'll find that it is very comfortable both from the driver's and passengers' point of view. The quality of materials and craftsmanship has been increased (if it ever needed to be increased) and only the best materials have been used inside the car. The cabin creates a special ambience and a feeling of content that you don't get in a mainstream executive car.

Performance and Economy

All Bentleys are fast. All you have to do is decide how fast do you need to go? If 6 seconds to 60mph and 150mph top speed is fast enough, go for the BMW V8 engine. If 5.2 seconds to 60mph and whopping 179mph (they've lost the electronic limiter) sounds better, then the super-forced 500BHP Rolls-Royce engine is the best choice. Although the unit was designed in the 1950s, it is an evergreen and sometimes it seems that there's no limit to how many horses can you squeeze out of the RR's veteran. It's a truly remarkable engine with a distinctive voice. The cabin, being so meticulously sound-packed, you don't hear a lot of what's happening underneath the hood, yet the rhythmical purring is very pleasant to hear. We don't really dare to speak of economy when it comes to Bentleys. Regardless of how well-tuned the engine is that you stick into it, a car weighting 2.5 tons cannot be economical. The modern BMW engine is capable of 16mpg while the old RR engine will manage just 14mpg. Not a lot of difference though, so you might want to choose one of the more powerful engines.

Like to Drive

It is sublime; the car is very obedient and mellow, the ultimate motoring experience. The Bentley Arnage is capable of high speeds and dizzying acceleration that doesn't cause too much strain on the driver. The steering wheel may feel a bit heavier than what you might experience from high-end executive cars, but it is a very heavy car that stretches to 212 inches in length. Driving it takes time to master. Mostly it's the larger dimensions that you need to make adjustments for. Visibility, however, is great so you'll start enjoying it very soon. The car is not available with a manual gearbox which might disappoint some of the most dedicated petrol-heads. The 5-speed auto gearbox mounted on the Arnage does do a beautiful job though, it is quick and smooth. The faster you go the smoother the car gets. The suspension works very well, however it's a heavy car and doesn't like fast corners. Our advice is to drive it slowly so everyone can see it and admire it.

Faults and Repairs

Although the Arnage is the first ever Bentley to be built on a conveyor (as opposed to the strictly manual work prior to that), the quality hasn't really gone down. If anything, it has improved. The large Bentley is still a very reliable car. If anything goes wrong, the dealer is able to respond quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, the car is not suitable for any home maintenance. Even the smallest thing or maintenance job has to be done by the dealer adding quite significantly to the already-high upkeep cost.