Bentley has reworked its range-topping Arnage for 2007. Perhaps ‘reworked’ doesn’t cover it: ‘transformed’ might be nearer. For this T version, there’s now 500bhp and an enormous 700lb ft of torque. That’s twice as much as a Ferrari F430.
The lesser R model steps up to 450bhp and 645lb ft. To transmit such totals gracefully to the road, the GM four-speed automatic gearbox has finally given way to modernity. Replacing it is the ZF six-speed unit from many a luxury saloon.
What’s it like?
It’s 48 years since the pushrod V8 engine was first used in the Bentley S2 and Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, but there’s nothing antique about the way the Bentley reaches 60mph in 5.2sec or hits 179mph flat out.
Bolting twin Mitsubishi turbos onto the Arnage’s venerable 6.75-litre mill has resulted in two and a half times the power of the original whilst only using 60 per cent as much fuel.
The chassis modifications of 2004 laid the foundations on which these increased slabs of power and torque could be laid: the big Bentley is a fluid and faithful handler whose 2500kg weight proves to be an advantage. The car tracks dead straight, which means you can place it with great accuracy – shaving hedges and apexes without a hint of putting a foot wrong.
You can also see what’s coming from the Arnage’s lofty driving position in its glorious interior.
Should I buy one?
Economy is in the supercar league: we averaged 14mpg over our afternoon’s drive. But you would have got the same from an Aston or Ferrari. Bentley claims the Arnage doesn’t have a competitor – which is certainly true on price. Its £175,500 list price places it well above more mainstream models such as the Mercedes S600 (£102,000).
But this car is rarer, quintessentially English and more special. As we said at the beginning, it has been transformed.