you can afford it,
theres really no better
way to travel
DESPITE NEW LABOUR'S OLD-FASHIONED AGENDA of doing
its damnedest to drive motorists off the road, the market for big, powerful, passionate, and expensive cars has never been stronger.
It used to be something of a joke to claim God as an Englishman but, irrespective of gender and race, it's quite likely that He drives a Bentley. Because the Bentley cossets like no other, and to travel in one is to enter seventh heaven.
Bentleys don't have seats; they have extraordinarily comfortable armchairs, upholstered in the finest hide. And in the back is the ultimate in child-control: TV screens inset into the back of the front headrests. If you have children, I guarantee you'll never leave home without turning them on.
The devil, as they say, is in the details. And nowhere is that more true than in a Bentley even the switchgear feels engineered! Inside the Arnage a world of effort has gone into perfecting even the tiniest detail. Parchment-faced, chrome-beveled instruments and gorgeous honey-coloured, palest oak veneer create the perfect antidote to today's high-tech, helter-skelter world.
However stressed you are when you settle in the hand-crafted driver's seat, within a few yards you'll feel on top of the world. The sumptuous interior exudes quality a quality, as Henry Royce was fond of saying, which remains long after the price is forgotten.
While perfectly content to purr regally along if you wish it will glide as smoothly as ice melting in the sunshine the Arnage has the ability to cover ground very rapidly indeed. Depress the button in the top of the leather-clad selector lever to engage Sports mode, lose the throttle pedal in the ankle-deep lambswool rug, and youll unleash an avalanche of power that will startle an Aston Martin.
You may not hear the clock ticking, but work the twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 and you'll hear the throaty chuckle of the jolly Green Label giant as sixty comes up in a stomach-tingling six seconds served up in a terrific whitewater surge by the seamless five-speed automatic transmission.
Cynics used to say that a Bentley was nothing more than a Rolls-Royce by another name. On paper, a four-door body seven feet wide by eighteen long that weighs in at two-and-a-half tons hardly sounds like a recipe for nimbleness. In reality, the Arnage has the edge on many
a dedicated sports saloon for agility and sheer pace! Put your faith in
the clever computer-controlled suspension and it will let you be the Lord of the Dance wherever you may be.
And just in case Sir gets too carried away, there's a progressive traction control system that's as tactfully unobtrusive as Jeeves himself, and which, when Sir desires to play, can be quickly turned off. And play he undoubtedly will, because this Bentley just begs to
be driven in the style of one of the original Blower Bentleys raced by wealthy amateurs that won the Le Mans 24-Hours not once but five times. Hence 'Arnage': from one of the most challenging corners on
the Le Mans circuit.
Left to its own devices the Arnage is an effortless mile-eater. Although the suspension has been tuned for handling, the ride smoothes out surface irregularities as sweetly as the top-notch stereo soothes frazzled nerves. And its certainly no exaggeration to call the Arnage
a sports saloon.
Handling surprisingly well, it maintains its composure through the twisty bits thanks to well-weighted steering, awesome brakes and a commanding driving position, while all the while shrugging off camber changes and bumps that would have lesser cars tramlining all over
the shop. What it has, in abundance, is the first thing catwalk models were once taught deportment.
The only way to travel in the Thirties was to fly First Class; in the '60s it was a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary. Today, with air travel dumbed-down for the masses and the great Cunard liners long-since pensioned-off, it's cars like the Arnage that make for magical journeys even if your destination is only the local Tesco's, instead
of the famous Casino de Monte Carlo.
Bentley Arnage Green Label | £145,180
Maximum speed: 150mph | 0-60mph: 6.2 seconds
Overall test MPG: 17mpg | Power: 350bhp | Torque: 413lb ft
Visit Bentley's website