Follow-Up Test - 2003 Bentley Arnage R

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 30, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Follow-Up Test: 2003 Bentley Arnage R

    When the Best Just Isn't Good Enough

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    By Ed Hellwig
    Date posted: 05-28-2003

    Bentleys are, and always have been, about want. No one really needs a car that costs nearly a quarter of a million dollars, yet, each year, hundreds of buyers fulfill what has likely been a lifelong dream by forking over that much or more.

    Critics often scoff at these brazen displays of income disposal as uninformed wastefulness. They usually cite the fact that several of Germany's finest can be had for half the price — but they're missing the point.

    The allure of a Bentley extends beyond the origin of its leather trim or the technological wizardry under the hood. Rarity is the name of the game in this class, and with only several hundred delivered to Stateside customers each year, the assurance of exclusivity is virtually guaranteed.

    The latest model to enter into this elite fraternity is the Arnage R sedan. Essentially a replacement for the previous Arnage Red and Green Label models, the Arnage R occupies the middle ground between the more sporting Arnage T and the stretched-wheelbase RL. Its less aggressively tuned suspension combined with its standard size makes it an ideal driver for those who want neither the sporting pretensions of the T nor the chauffeur-size dimensions of the RL.

    From the outside, you would be hard-pressed to tell the Arnage R from its previous iterations. All the classic lines of its predecessors have been left intact, with an upturned trunk lid that serves as a high-speed spoiler the only notable change to the exterior. Unlike the Arnage T, the R retains all of its standard chrome exterior trim for a more traditional look.

    More substantial changes lie below the skin. The Arnage's 6.8-liter V8 now utilizes two turbochargers in place of one and has been upgraded with a more advanced Bosch engine management system. Still rated at an impressive 400 horsepower, the dual turbos were designed to give the R's V8 quicker throttle response and smoother power delivery, while the more modern electronics allow for the incorporation of a stability control system for improved safety.

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    Along with the changes under the hood come a few upgrades to the suspension, chassis and steering as well. A rear antiroll bar was added to help quell body roll while the rest of the chassis was stiffened in key areas to reduce flexing. The steering system was upgraded for a more precise on-center feel. And the springs that support the car were retuned to deliver a more controlled ride than previous versions', while maintaining equivalent comfort levels.

    Piloting a car like the Arnage is an event as much as it is a means of travel. Although the Arnage wears the same basic shape that Bentley has used for years, it still draws stares of admiration and awe. Its sheer size (almost a foot longer than a Mercedes S-Class) is a large part of the grandeur, but the classic upright grille, extensive chrome brightwork and uninterrupted lines do their part to convey the car's level of prestige.

    The larger-than-life exterior dimensions translate into an expansive cabin that's equally impressive in both its comfort and its opulence. There's no pretense of a cockpitlike feel in this car. The dashboard stretches across the cabin in a broad, flat swath of wood and chrome that doesn't seek to separate the driver from his front passenger. The arrangement is intuitive and attractive, with easy-to-decipher controls and beautiful dashboard gauges that recall grand touring cars of the early 20th century.

    Looking over the long hood imparts the same impression, but a quick nudge of the accelerator instantly reminds you that the Arnage is no antique. The sheer displacement of the engine ensures plenty of off-the-line pull, and once the turbos take over, the Bentley lunges forth with more enthusiasm than you would expect from a nearly three-ton vehicle. The shared effort of the twin turbos makes for a less abrupt surge of power than seen in previous models, and responses to pedal input are noticeably smoother than before.

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    Bentley prides itself on the fact that its owners drive their cars more often than they ride in them, so the Arnage's road manners are as important as its stature when parked. The improvements to the chassis and the steering make for a more involved car on the road, but it still lacks the intimate feel of Germany's finest sedans. If it's a true sporting car that you're after, an upgrade to the performance-oriented Arnage T would be a better route.

    That said, the R eats up highway miles in a manner that will make you yearn for long trips. At speed, the Arnage is a model of composure and confidence, its ride quality more like gliding along on train tracks than rutted pavement. The locomotivelike thrust of the big V8 only reinforces the perception as it never seems at a loss for power whether you're going solo or carrying three friends along for the ride. Comfort in the rear seats rivals that of the front, as there is more than enough room, not to mention power adjustments and two-level heaters.

    Although its origins date back several decades, the Arnage boasts all the technological advancements you would expect in a car of this caliber. A DVD-based navigation system folds forth from the dashboard to give you directions, while front and rear parking sensors assure that you'll never misjudge the car's proximity to damaging obstacles. Passenger protection is assured thanks to front, side and head curtain airbags, as well as a stability control system that will keep the car headed in the right direction during evasive maneuvers.

    Regardless of how favorably it may compete, a car like the Arnage is not one to be compared feature for feature with its rivals. You either like what it stands for or you don't. The latest round of improvements on the Arnage R keeps it well within modern standards without intruding on its decades of well-honed heritage. It still lacks the connected feel of more mainstream luxury sedans, but as a touring sedan it doesn't get much better. Not that any of this really matters. If you want this car, you'll buy it — and you'll likely love every minute of it.

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    Ups: Unmatched exclusivity, endless power, more than enough room for four.

    Downs: Feels as heavy as it is, lacks some the technological wizardry of less expensive luxury sedans.

    The Bottom Line: A traditional grand touring sedan that makes up for in prestige what it lacks in technology.

    MSRP of Test Vehicle: $201,985

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  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    PISS ON THAT! Gimme the arnage T! :o
     
  3. Dr_Trac

    Dr_Trac doh!@

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    Piss on that.....gimmie that New $150K lambo. :)
     
  4. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    I like how Bentley just uses the same car... changes the names on them, and sells them for $50,000 more. :o I guess rich people are stupid. :dunno:
     
  5. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    more cylinders = more money
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    What a dinosaur, but it is a very nice dinosaur.
     
  7. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Arnage T > Arnage R
     
  8. Neuro

    Neuro OT Supporter

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    new lambo is $250K
     
  9. eurocarracer

    eurocarracer New Member

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  10. Praezision

    Praezision Guest

    lambo makes more than one car
     
  11. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    True... but bentley uses the same Pushrod V8 in almost all their 4 doors. 6.8L Twin Turbo. :dunno:
     

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