I recently had the chance to drive a Bentley Arnage, which is a fantastic car. It was a fantastic car back when it was new, back when it cost like $250,000, and it’s especially a fantastic car now, in 2019, when it costs something like $30,000. Yes, I mean it: $30,000 for a not-really-that-old Bentley. It’s wonderful, and it’s magical, and now I’m going to tell you about it.
First, let’s discuss the styling. I really like the Bentley Mulsanne, which is the full-size Bentley sedan that replaced the Arnage, but I think the Arnage looks more stately, more old-school, more unaffected by the design trends of its day. That doesn’t mean it looks timeless, but rather just handsome, simple, luxurious and very, very Bentley, with its sloping rear end and tall, right-angle grille.
Things under the hood were a bit different. While old-school Bentley models used a 6.75-liter engine, the Arnage’s debut saw it using a BMW powerplant due to an unusual and complicated power struggle for control of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Eventually, Volkswagen wrested Bentley from BMW, and the Arnage continued using a 6.75-liter engine, though early versions of that engine weren’t particularly spry.
Things changed when the Arnage T made its debut for 2007. That engine gave the Arnage 500 horsepower, and an Arnage T is the one I drove — and it moved, surprisingly quickly, surprisingly well. The 0-to-60 mph time was quoted at 5.2 seconds, and I have absolutely no doubt it actually did that figure, which is no small task given the car’s gargantuan size: it’s roughly 213 inches long and it weighs something like 5,700 pounds. But 500 hp — and, probably more importantly, 738 lb-ft of torque — meant this thing really moved.
And it moves like a Bentley, which is what I love. What I mean by that is power isn’t some crazy, ultra-frenetic delivery where it’s angry and excessively fast. Instead, it builds power like a jet, almost subtly, until you’re just going at a massive speed you didn’t intend to be going, but you were so insulated from the road you just didn’t really realize what was happening, and can I please get a break on that ticket, officer?
Unfortunately, all this isolation from the road translates to handling: the Arnage T was certainly more nimble than I expected, but that’s not exactly a huge compliment. It still pitches and rolls and slowly glides when you turn the wheel, with nowhere as much precision as a sports car, or really any modern car, including the more modern Bentley Mulsanne. It’s not dangerous, to be sure, but it certainly isn’t spry or fast or fun or exciting, making this car’s “sporty” experience more about straight-line acceleration than anything else.
But, of course, this car — being an Arnage — isn’t all about “sport.” The other thing this car brings to the table is pure luxury, and not in a modern sense of high technology, but rather in the old-world sense of luxury, meaning fine craftsmanship, excellent materials and beautiful surfaces and finishes throughout. This car is one of a handful that lives on with “luxury” truly meaning “luxury,” and not a combination of luxury and technology and safety and equipment and performance. The craftsmanship and materials are still appealing, even a decade after this car was sold new.
And yet, that stuff isn’t expensive. Well, at least, it’s not expensive to buy, though I can only imagine what it might cost to replace. Right now, used Bentley Arnage models are cheap, cheap, cheap, and I really think no car on the market projects “stately wealth” for as little cash as a Bentley Arnage. Indeed, there are currently 44 Bentley Arnage models currently listed for sale on Autotrader, and fully half are under $40,000. The cheapest ones are under $20,000 — and nothing else you can buy for twenty grand will give you this much presence.
Of course, this won’t be a $20,000 car in terms of ownership experience, so you’ll have to be aware of that — maintenance and repairs could get pricey. But if you’re thinking about a $60,000 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and you get this instead for half the money — and you save the rest for maintenance and repairs — you’ll look like the wealthiest person in your subdivision. And when you stomp on the throttle, you won’t have any regrets at all — unless, of course, something breaks. Find a Bentley Arnage for sale