Bentley Arnage T
Old Money.. Lots Of It.In days gone by, Bentley didn't use vulgar terms like peak power or torque when describing its engines. The British stiff upper lip could only tolerate words like 'ample' or 'adequate'. But what was ample then is inadequate today. The 6.25-liter V8 in the 1959 Series 2 actually had just 200 bhp. Almost 50 years later, its direct descendant produces 500 bhp and powers the new Arnage T. The famous pushrod powerhouse is one of the most charismatic engines and remains key to the Arnage's character. The aluminum block has changed little since it was first designed in 1958.
This is Bentley's 'old money' car. The cheaper Continental range is based on a Volkswagen and bought by professional soccer players. The Arnage, by contrast, is pure Bentley and owned by people called Lord or Her Majesty. Priced from $242,990, the T is on the dear side of pricey.
A subtle facelift of the Arnage for the 2007 model year has seen the replacement of the old Garrett turbochargers with a twin set from Mitsubishi. With a new ECU and modifications to the camshaft and valvetrain, peak power has risen from 450 bhp to 500 bhp at 4200 rpm. Impressive, yet this engine also produces 738 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm-281 lb-ft more than the new Porsche 911 Turbo. To help make the most of all this twist action, Bentley has dumped the old four-speed automatic in favor of a more contemporary ZF six-speed, offering standard and Sport modes with a sequential shift function.
Performance is genuinely special. This 5699-pound colossus will hit 60 mph from rest in just 5.2 seconds and punch its way to 179 mph. Everything about this engine is extraordinary. The rev limiter intervenes at a diesel-like 4600 rpm and the thrust is delivered with an old-school V8 rumble. Think of this motor as the Sumo wrestler of the automotive world-it doesn't move fast, but it delivers an almighty slap.
The deployment of this power has been made easier by the development of a new Bosch ESP system. The abrupt, killjoy interventions of the old system have been replaced by measured inputs. On the Arnage T, it will allow a modicum of wheel slip to help the car off the line and give a brave driver scope to explore the outer dynamic limits.
The steering is better weighted and offers more feedback than that in the Continental GT. You're forever aware of the car's profligate mass, but body roll is well contained and there's plenty of grip. It responds to spirited pedaling-drivers of so-called sports cars are astonished to see this giant Bentley looming large in their mirrors.
A switch on the center console allows the driver to alter the damper settings between standard and sport. Sport offers improved body control on undulating back roads, while standard delivers more low-speed comfort. The ride is acceptable, but it's not as cosseting as a Mercedes S-Class.
The rest of the car has undergone only minor revisions. The steering column has been extended and the wheel is now height adjustable to improve the throne-like driving position. A Bluetooth telephone interface and a tire pressure monitoring system are sops to the modern world.
It's not difficult to pick holes in this car: there's too much wind noise at high speed, the brakes could use a little more feel, and some of the plastic switchgear looks out of place. Objectively, an S-Class is better. But the Merc will never have the Bentley's charm. The Arnage exudes an aura of wellbeing. This is the car that time forgot-a wonderful antidote to the madness of the modern world.
Longitudinal Front Engine,Rear-Wheel Drive
6.75-Liter V8, Two Overhead Valves Per Cylinder, Turbocharged And Intercooled
Peak Power: 500 Bhp @ 4200 Rpm
Peak Torque: 738 Lb-Ft @ 3200 Rpm
0-60mph: 5.2 Sec.
Top Speed: 179 Mph
Fuel Economy: 10 City/14 Hwy
Price As Tested $242,990
From The Hip
+ Old World Charm, Monster Performance, Sumptuous Cabin
- Wind Noise, Feels Dated In Places, Expensive