2003 Bentley Arnage R Road Test

The front seats are very comfortable, and offer the perfect blend of support and cushioning. You don’t exactly sit “in” the seats like you would in say, a Ferrari, but you don’t sit “on” the seats like you would in a utility vehicle. You’re cradled perfectly, but then again, you should be as Bentley designs and crafts all of their seats completely in house. Why? Well, because they can – Bentley has invested two-plus years in designing the seats to meet their requirements.

Rear seating accommodations are superb – plenty of room for tall guys like us (we’re all over 6’3″), and once again, the seats are perfectly crafted to offer the best of both support and comfort. The folding tray tables (mounted in the backs of the front seats) fold down, out and up to give you plenty of leg room.

There are numerous controls in the rear of the car, including power seat controls – the rear passengers can adjust the rear seats to provide optimal comfort. Climate and lighting controls are top notch throughout the vehicle.

DRIVING POSITION AND IMPRESSIONS

Slide in behind the steering wheel (which automatically raises itself up when you open the door) and you’re be greeted by white-faced gauges with black text and orange indicators. The gauge layout is interesting, as directly in front of the driver are a speedometer and tachometer. All other gauges reside just above the radio and HVAC controls in the center portion of the dash.

The controls are, for the most part, very well laid out. Our only complaint with the controls is the heavy BMW influence – the HVAC system appears to have been lifted directly from an E38 BMW, as have the steering wheel mounted cruise controls.

The thickly padded, leather clad steering wheel feels great and offers great “feel” when driving – both at parking lot speeds and freeway speeds…more on that later…

The leather adorned chrome shifter requires you to lift up (vertically) before it will move from Park or Drive. It took us a while to get used to this, but once familiar with it, the motion became second nature. Mounted on the top of the shifter is a push button that switches the engine, transmission and suspension programming from Sport to Normal.

Another quirk (and complaint) that we noticed was that the car doesn’t appear to indicate outside temperature. It “dings” at you when the temperature is near freezing, but try as we might, we couldn’t find any way to display outside temperature. Call us “stuffy”, but we’d think that potential Bentley owners might appreciate knowing whether or not they need to put on the mink before they step out into the elements.

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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