2003 Bentley Arnage R Road Test

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“Why?” If you have to ask, this is not the car for you. “Why” became a very common question for us as we spent time with the 2003 Bentley Arnage R. People would approach us at the gas station, the grocery store, the restaurant, the marina, the McDonald’s drive through, you get the idea…

“That sure is a nice looking car, it’s a Bentley?” is usually how the conversations started.

“Yep,” we’d respond, trying to sound rather nonchalant.

“What does it cost?” they’d ask, their eyes following the sleek yet muscular lines of the Arnage.

“They start at around $199,000, give or take a couple of grand,” we’d say, trying again to make it sound like it wasn’t any big deal.

“Why would anyone pay that for a car?” their eyes now wide open, jaws opened a little farther past comfortable.

And that is how just about every conversation went. Of course, we were more than happy to engage folks in whatever discussion they wanted to have regarding the car, but the pressing question that appeared time and time again was “Why?”

“The Bentley” as it became known around our office, arrived just about mid-morning on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday morning. We went out to have our first look, and the first thing we noticed was the “presence” that this car carries with it. Sitting in a parking lot with approximately 60 other vehicles, our eyes were immediately drawn to the blue Bentley.

It’s lines are, well, breathtaking. I hate to use that word because it’s so overused, but try as I might, I couldn’t find a better word to describe the Bentley. It literally takes your breath away every time you get near it, sit in it, drive it or walk away from it. And don’t think you can walk away from it without looking over your shoulder once (or twice) – it ain’t gonna happen.

The car wasn’t as big as we had expected it to be – don’t get me wrong, it’s no Geo Metro, but it’s not “school bus big” as I had envisioned it to be. It carries its weight well – much like a power lifter would. You know that it’s big, but you never think of it as fat – it just sits there, commanding your attention and manipulating the parts of your soul that control greed, envy and lust.

Open the heavy door and you’re greeted with a luxurious, hand-crafted interior. Supple leather, fine carpets and fabric, and enough burr walnut to make you wonder if the world really is running out of trees – this car is gorgeous in every sense of the word. We took a deep breath of “Bentley Air” – the leather still smelled great; ah, now this is living.

Written by Roadfly Charlie

Charlie is Roadfly’s founder and publisher, and was taught to drive by his father in a 1974 Porsche 914. That made poor Charlie a Porsche fanboy for life, and after driving a 911SC at 16, he bought and campaigned a variety of 944s at racetracks up and down the East Coast, earning awards and track records in his twenties. Charlie never really got over the car bug, and after a career in real estate development he founded the Internet media firm that became Roadfly. Charlie lives in McLean, VA with his wife and two daughters, and between the demands of family and business doesn’t have much time to play with cars anymore, excluding the machinery we review.

One comment

  1. THE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED REVIEW ONLY ‘TOUCHES ON’ THE FINE POINTS OF THIS CAR. I HAVE MANY, MANY CARS IN MY TIME AND HADN’T PURCHASED A BENTLEY SINCE THE MID EIGHTIES WHEN I BOUGHT AN OLD SII. LATER I BOUGHT A SIII AND THEN A BENTLEY EIGHT AND THAT LED ME TO THIS VERY FINE MOTORCAR. I JUST PURCHASED MY 2ND ARNAGE AND I CAN’T SAY ENOUGH ‘ABOUT IT. IT IS SIMPLY ‘THE BEST CAR IN THE WORLD’ AND AT 64 YEARS YOUNG I’VE HAD (OVER 200) FERRARI’S, ROLLS-ROYCES, TONS OF MERCEDES (INCLUDING THE 500CLS AND 280SE 3.5 CONVERTIBLE), A FEW BEEMERS AND JAGUARS. NOTHING COMPARES TO THIS CAR IN DRIVING COMFORT, QUALITY, PERFORMANCE, ‘WOW FACTOR’, PRESTEIGE AND ENDURANCE. I ONLY WISH THEY HELD THEIR VALUE BETTER. IF YOU EVER HAVE A CHANCE TO BUY AN ARNAGE – DO IT. SKIP THE CONTINENTAL GT COUPE AND SPUR- THIS IS THE ONE!

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