Bentley Arnage T (2006) review

Published:30 August 2006

Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
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Another new Bentley?

Yep, Bentley is on a roll. After Continental GT in 2003, the Flying Spur in 2005 and the new Azure and Continental GTC in ’06, now we have a refreshed 2007-model year Arnage. It’s not an all-new car, but there are some significant changes and a promise that this is a ‘true driver’s car’.

A true driver’s car?! It looks like about as driver-focused as a Chesterfield sofa…

Don’t let the looks deceive you. Under the virtually unchanged skin lie some serious mechanical changes. Firstly, the ponderous and frankly awful 4-speed automatic gearbox has been tossed and replaced with a much more responsive six-speed ZF ‘box. This new transmission not only offers two more gears, but also three modes (Sport, Drive and Semi-Automatic) and a far more intuitive manual shift option. Still no steering wheel mounted shift paddles though…

What about the engine? Has Bentley tweaked that venerable old V8?

Oh yes. Capacity is unchanged at 6.75-litres but power and torque is boosted across the range. The Arnage R and RL are up to 450bhp from 400bhp, and the T model now stumps up 500bhp (up from 450bhp) and a mighty 1000Nm of torque. That’s around 738lb/ft in old money, or enough torque to pull a bend out of a river. Or to change the tides. Or to stop the earth spinning. Or…

Okay, okay – message received. But isn’t Bentley’s V8 as old as the moon?

Pretty much – this engine was first used in 1959. Naturally, there have been major tweaks since then including the addition of turbocharging and intercooling in the early ’80s. And for those engine geeks among you, check this out: when the V8 was commissioned in the ’50s the original design brief unwittingly benefited future versions. How? Well, the valves were positioned high in the cylinder head for rapid heat dissipation and now, decades later, this enables the catalysts to be heated due to the short travel from the valves – benefiting exhaust emissions. For the 07 engine, there are two new low-inertia turbos, a reprofiled camshaft and a new roller tappet system.

So how does it feel on the road?

Matched to that new ZF auto ‘box, the V8 is as good as any big V8 on the market. It’s far more responsive than the older motor, but still whisper quiet, smooth and refined. 0-60mph comes up in just 5.2sec for the T – enough to frighten a Boxster driver out of his hairpiece. The new turbos are far more efficient at lower revs, something you can really feel on the move. Lag is reduced, and engine/throttle response improved.

So what else is new?

Well, there’s also an ESP system that doesn’t just cut the power when things get squirrelly (and then wait a couple of leap years before handing it back). The new ESP now monitors the car’s overall attitude and stability, rather than simply loss of traction, meaning you can actually fling the 07 Arnage around and even get it drifting without a sudden loss of power. It should still save you from an embarrassing Bentley/hedge interface should you come over too racy, but now it’ll let you have fun up until that point.

All this talk of torque and driver-focus – what about the things that Bentley does better than anyone else?

You mean ride, interior ambience and that essential feel-good factor? Oh yes – as good as ever. Inside, the Arnage is still one of the great automotive environments. The woods, leather and chromework are immaculate and the feeling of being cocooned in an essentially hand-built machine a joy. Frankly, you’re looking at one of the finest luxury cars ever built.

Specs

Price when new: £178,200
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 6761cc, twin-turbocharged V8, 500bhp @ 4200rpm, 738lb ft @ 3200rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 0-60mph in 5.2seconds, 179mph, 14.5mpg, 465g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2585kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 5400/1932/1515

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  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
  • Bentley Arnage T (2006) review
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