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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Arnage has lightning-quick acceleration, a luxury interior, and bags of standard kit

Against It suffers from poor fuel consumption, it lacks practicality, and depreciation will be a huge cost

Verdict It's a prestigious limo with massive performance and sumptuous craftsmanship inside

Go for… R

Avoid… RL

Bentley Arnage Saloon
  • 1. The steering is a bit light, but overall the Bentley handles very well for its size
  • 2. There are 27 colours of leather to choose from, plus another 16 as secondary shades
  • 3. Space front and back is okay, but not spectacular for a car of this size
  • 4. Ensure that recall work to the front suspension ball joint was carried out
  • 5. Further recall work was ordered to stop the wheels falling off - make sure it was completed
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Bentley Arnage Saloon full review with expert trade views

'Magic carpet ride' is something of an overused cliche, but in the Arnage’s case it’s justified. The car wafts along in a straight line with impeccable manners, but it doesn’t mind being chucked into corners, either. The steering is a bit light, but the slick automatic gearbox is a joy, and the Bentley handles very well for its size.

It's very quick, too: thanks to the 6.75-litre petrol V8, it hits 60mph in less than six seconds – impressive for a 2.5-tonne monster.

Interior space front and back is okay, but not spectacular given the Arnage is nearly 5.5-metres long. The high seating position won’t appeal to taller drivers, and the stunning views of the handcrafted bespoke wood and leather detailing may not quite make up for that.

Equipment levels are high, though, and there’s a cracking audio system, which is handy for covering up the wind and road noise that intrude into the cabin.

Trade view

John Owen

By the time you're old enough to afford one the power will give you a heart attack

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Launched in 1999, there’s only one engine, but two power outputs. The entry-level R’s powerplant has 'just' 400bhp, but bolt on a couple of turbochargers and you’ve got the flagship T model and 50bhp more.

As for the cabin, there are 27 colours of leather to choose from, plus another 16 as secondary shades, and we’ve not even mentioned the numerous wood options yet. All this means it’s unlikely you’ll ever find two cars the same. If there’s something missing that you’d really like, Bentley will be more than happy to accommodate your wishes. Bespoke craftsmen will create virtually anything for you, including hot and cold running water in one model we saw. Just don’t expect it to be cheap.

The rarity of Bentleys means you’re not going to find scores of second-hand Arnages at your local used showroom. Your best bet is the franchised dealer network or specialist dealers.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Red Label is good value now. LWB at a premium, R and T are rare

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Buying a Bentley, even a used one, isn’t cheap and it’s worth taking a look at the running costs before shelling out, too. Just getting it serviced will be an eye-watering experience.

Official fuel economy figures for the R and the T are 13.7mpg, andthat equates to closer to 10 or less in real life. A Mercedes S500 will give you twice that – and won’t cost as much in the first place – but obviously lacks the cachet of that Bentley badge.

In percentage terms, the residual values aren’t really better or worse than any other car, but that can amount to a lot of money when you’ve laid out more cash in the first place. That the Arnage is in the top insurance category, Group 20, is a given, mainly because of the repair costs if you’re unlucky enough to be in a smash. Plus, there’s the chance your posh motor will be targeted by envious thieves.

Trade view

John Owen

By the time you're old enough to afford one the power will give you a heart attack

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Much of the Arnage’s running gear is extremely well proven, which is a polite way of saying it’s been around for years in one form or another. Or, that any problems have been ironed out.

The car was recalled in 2005 for a problem with the front suspension ball joint, which could cause the driver to lose control, and again in 2006 when it was discovered that the wheels could fall off. That said, the car has generally performed well, and the good news is that the irritating niggles should have been fixed.

The bottom line, though, is that reliability shouldn’t be a big issue. What’s more, Bentley’s proud history and all-round Britishness (even though the company is now German-owned) means customer service from the dealer network should be top-notch if you do have a problem. Luxury car firms know there’s nothing as valuable as a satisfied customer when it comes to sticking with the brand at trade-in time.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Red Label is good value now. LWB at a premium, R and T are rare

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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