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LIVING LIFE LARGE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, May 11, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LIVING EXTRA LARGE

By JOHN GRAFMAN

It had to happen. With both Rob and Jeff in the back seat of the Bentley, I knew they wouldn’t miss the chance to flaunt our newfound, albeit temporary wealth. Rob was showing off a little at a house party Jeff’s well off neighbors were throwing. Normally I don’t think they would have given us much more than the time of day. Strange how pulling up in a car costing about two hundred thousand dollars can change some peoples minds. After Rob was finished hamming it up, I thought they might have considered adopting us.

Life with a Bentley Arnage is living life large. Sure if you had to take the car apart and compare it to some high end mass produced luxury vehicles, in a few areas the Arnage would fall short. Don’t be confused. We didn’t take the car apart for many reasons, and I am sure the people at Bentley will be glad to hear that. The Bentley as a whole commands a level of prestige that is far above all but a few motorcars.

Many a car can covey many different emotions and tells the tale as to who the driver is. The Bentley has spirit that you wouldn’t expect in say a Rolls. Our car felt as massive as an Abrams Tank yet it has enough grunt (616 lbs. of torque) that you can pull away from the traffic regardless of speed. A 6.75-liter, twin turbocharged, V8 with 400 horses could explain how this vehicle can move with a sense of urgency when it wants to. The transmission does have a sport mode that extracts every ounce of muscle the powerplant has to the most effective use. That’s particularly important when the paparazzi is on your case. By no means is this a land yacht either in spite of its shear weight. When cruising around town and through the turns the Bentley was very poised. This was a truly an amazing feat given the size (212.37 inches) and weight (5,699 pounds) of our Desert Dune colored transport. Driving this say very clearly that “you’re the man”.

Back to Jeff and Rob. Sitting in the back surrounded by the most sumptuous of leathers in perfectly matching oatmeal color hides, those guys were rock stars. In the back with individually reclining and heated seats, and encased by what seemed like a small forest of Bird’s eye maple veneer, how do you not come off looking good? No doubt most owners will opt for some very darkly tinted windows to keep from feeling like you are driving around in a fish bowl. Everyone wants to take a look inside and check it out, and I do mean everyone! Who’s in the back, Elton? Mick? Would you believe Jeff and Rob?

While speaking of rock stars let me tell you, the Stereo in ours is far superior to what I was expecting. If they can’t see you coming up Rodeo Drive in this, they certainly can hear you. Another aspect that came to light in the time we spent driving from Glendale to Newport was that it didn’t matter whether we had on classical or the Chemical Brothers, everything seemed to be at home in the Bentley.

Being that some of the development in this may not be as thorough as say a Mercedes when it comes to ergonomics, some of the small problems need to be accepted as part of the character of the car. On the instrument panel, the dials that face straight back are not entirely visible to the driver. If the dials were angled with just a slight bias toward the driver, that would resolve the situation. In the rear the operational switches for the heating and reclining of the seats are between the seats, somewhat close to the floor. As a result they are a bit difficult to operate for the uninitiated. But that is what separates those who have experienced from those who haven’t.

The Arnage does have some rather unique features that harkens back to days long gone by. The chromes pull knobs that regulate the airflow from each individual vent are one such touch. The vents themselves are a spherical metal rotating unit is very similar in style to what I remember as a kid in parents’ station wagon. They never looked nearly as good as the vents are in this application.

At night the chrome switches in the center console are not individually illuminated but rather bathed in a red glow from a nearly hidden overhead light source. A matching glow is radiating from the console dials as well. Although this may not be the pinnacle of technology, it is rather a demarcation that sets the Bentley apart from the pack.

When you consider the limited numbers being produce and the amount of hand labor going into the Arnage, we found the level of fit and finish to be above our expectations. The standard features are what one would expect in a motorcar of this stature. The optional equipment that included everything from picnic tables imbedded in the rear of the front seats to umbrellas totaled an additional thirteen thousand dollar…more or less. The sales tax on this alone would be roughly the cost of a Toyota Camry. Another way to look at this is you could purchase ten or eleven Camrys for the same price as our well equipped Bentley. But what fun would that be.

Our Arnage R seemed to contour itself to everyone’s taste. You like fast cars, the Bentley works. Ultra luxury, here you go. Big, nimble, safe (SRS, ABS, ESP, HBA), it does it all. Fuel efficiency, okay it doesn’t do that very well (EPA MPG 10/15) but I don’t think that is a priority with many owners.

It was a sad moment giving our little slice of heaven back to its caretakers. I am sure its going to be interesting explaining to Jeff’s neighbors’ just why we had to trade the Bentley in on a set of wheels that has a price tag somewhat south of six figures. Oh well, you win some. You loose some!

For more information on Bentley www.bentleymotors.com Bentley Arnage R Specifications Model Type Front-engine, rear wheel drive, 5 seat, 4-door saloon Body Type Unit Construction Material Coated Steel

Engine Type V8, cast aluminium alloy engine block and cylinder head Bore & Stroke 104.16 mm x 99.06 mm Displacement 6.75 litre Compression ratio 7.8:1 Engine Control System Bosch ME 7.1.1 Valve gear Overhead, push rod operated through self-adjusting hydraulic tappets. Emission Controls 3-way catalytic converter, feedback air-fuel ratio control, secondary air injection. One 3-way catalytic converter per bank Power 400 bhp (298.3 kW) at 4000 rpm Torque 616 lbs.ft (835 Nm) at 3250 rpm

Drivetrain Transmission 4 speed automatic Ratios 1st 2.48, 2nd 1.48, 3rd 1.00, 4th 0.75 Final Drive 2.92:1

Dimensions & Capacities Wheelbase 3116 mm (122.77 in.) Front Track 1602 mm (63.12 in.) Rear Track 1602 mm (63.12 in.) Overall length 5390 mm (212.37 in.) Width (across mirrors) 2125 mm (83.73 in.) Width (across body incl. door handles) 1932 mm (76.12 in.) Overall height 1515 mm (59.69 in.) Kerb weight 2585 kg (5699 lbs) Fuel tank capacity 100 litres (26.4 US gallons) Oil capacity 10.5 litres (22.2 US pints) Coolant capacity 20 litres (42.2 US pints)

Suspension Front A pressed steel and cast aluminium subframe with steering rack mounting. Double wishbone suspension with lower wishbone compliance hydrabush. Rear A pressed steel sub-frame supporting rubber isolated upper and lower wishbones. Dampers Computer controlled 3 stage adaptive electro-hydraulic dampers Ride Height Control Automatic ride height control with auto load compensation

Steering Type Power assisted, rack and pinion steering Ratio 17.5:1 Turns, lock to lock 3.11

Brakes Front Ventilated discs Diameter 348 mm Rear Ventilated discs Diameter 345 mm Power Hydraulically boosted front & rear brake circuit, incorporating an Electronic Stability programme (ESP). This programme incorporates:- Traction control system (ASR) Anti-lock brakes system (ABS) Electronic brake pressure distribution (EBD) Engine drag torque control (MSR) Hydraulic brake assistance (HBA)

Wheels & Tyres Wheel size 8J x 18 Wheel type Aluminium Alloy Tyre size front/rear 255/50 R18 102Y Tyres Pirelli Inflation pressure Front: 32psi Rear 34psi

Fuel Consumption (EU Cycle) Urban 30.7 litres/100km/9.2 mpg Extra-urban 14.8 litres/100km/19.1 mpg Combined 20.6 litres/100km/13.7 mpg (EPA Cycle) City driving 10 miles/US gallons Highway driving 15 miles/US gallons

Performance 0-60 mph 5.9 seconds 0-100 mph 15.4 seconds Maximum Speed 249km/h (155mph) A.M.S Stopping Distance 36.47 metres/2.63 seconds

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