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Bentley Arnage 2007 Review

Mention that magic number, and it's a cinch the majority will mentally conjure some form of real estate: an over-restored box with marginal views of the big blue, or maybe a McMansion in Nouveau Moneyville.

Last Tuesday lunchtime at Rose Bay (where a million bucks might just get you an inside toilet), there was a rather more eloquent demonstration of affluence to be ogled.

Having been steered down from Palm Beach - where lots of zeroes on the realtor's price tag are de rigueur - were two examples of what remains one of the final frontiers of elite auto ownership.

A 2007 model Bentley Arnage and a Continental GTC befitted a backdrop of exclusive waterfront, swooping seaplanes and $50 main courses.

That said, it's sad that, for many who acquisitively aspire to such trappings, Bentleys are mere status symbols. A bit like monstrously overpowered Hermes handbags.

An all-too-brief shared drive in each, however, confirmed to this Bentley neophyte that there's much more to the fabled marque than hand crafted wood panelling and a smug label.

If the $539,000 tag on the Arnage T (unoptioned and sans government charges and dealer delivery, mark you) isn't enough to induce caution when pulling away from Barrenjoeys, the other-wordly feel of the thing surely is.

Amid a field of silver knobs and buttons and luxury accoutrements, the driving position is aptly high and mighty, almost in keeping with an SUV.

As is the sheer heft of the mega-luxury conveyance as it wafts on the comfort setting of its air suspension.

Yet, as initial jitters are overcome and the setting switched to sport, the Arnage T's 2585kg kerb weight scarcely troubles smart progress, even through the 35km/h bends of the Kuringgai Chase National Park.

The last car I drove through here was an Audi TT. The Arnage is, in its rarefied way, more fun.

Turn-in is amazingly adroit, utterly belying expectation.

The only discernable noise comes from its 6.8-litre, twin turbo V8, which growls with the sort of refined menace that only 875Nm can command.

As with the Continental GTC - the outrageously attractive convertible version of the GT coupe - the Arnage now benefits from a six-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual modes.

One blushes at having so carelessly used the word "seamless" to describe other six-cog autos - the Bentleys define it.

The roofless Continental, a mere snip at $399,500, is about as far departed from the Arnage as two cars boasting the same badge could possibly be.

With 411kW and 650Nm from its six-litre twin turbo W12, the all-paw droptop is possibly the more impressive. That its on road dynamism belies its near 2.5-tonne kerb weight proves the Arnage is no fluke.

Our drive comprised but the merest taste from this impossibly rich table, but enough could be discerned of the GTC to see that the lack of supportive pillars represents no problem. Indeed, the torsional rigidity achieved here is a miracle of cross membering..

Perhaps more pertinently, as we whiled through Wiley Park to the M5 en route to the Bentley's natural habitat of the eastern suburbs, there was scarcely a head unturned by the azure GTC, its blindingly blonde upholstery and slightly unfortunate blue leather-trimmed steering wheel and dash exposed to the summer sun.

Some may be wondering by this point what possible use there is in filling a page with such auto exotica, given that few of us could so much as fill the Arnage's 100-litre tank without taking a second mortgage.

Well, if you have the least interest in cars beyond the one that fills your garage, be glad there remain things so uncompromised as these Bentleys.

There are no priced-down versions with lesser spec. There'sno under-powered model with a smaller engine. There's no diesel. And, praise heaven, there's no populist SUV.

They are what they unapologetically and utterly are. And for that, car-lovers can be grateful.

Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Range and Specs

R 6.8L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $144,900 – 183,260 2007 Bentley Arnage 2007 R Pricing and Specs
RL 6.8L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $165,100 – 208,780 2007 Bentley Arnage 2007 RL Pricing and Specs
T 6.8L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $154,800 – 195,690 2007 Bentley Arnage 2007 T Pricing and Specs