Bentley Azure Convertible (2006-2009) review
The amazing Azure is a Bentley in every sense. It's generally very impressive indeed.
Driving: The Azure uses a traditional Bentley 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, as seen in the Arnage saloon. And it retains the unique Bentley character of effortless power. Revving to 4,500rpm, the cabrio has a seamless auto gearbox to drive the rear wheels. A massive 875Nm of torque ensures the car offers incredible acceleration, despite its 2,695kg weight. It records the 0-60mph sprint in 5.9 seconds. However, Bentley's engineers have also concentrated on body stiffness, which is crucial for a roofless car of such vast proportions. While it's far from agile, handling is safe and stability good. Body roll is controlled well, and the steering is acceptable, although the brake pedal suffers from a slightly soft pedal action. The ride, however, is superbly cushioned. The classic floating Bentley ride is a constant, while the Sport button tightens the active dampers to reduce this vertical movement.
Marketplace: Based on the latest Arnage, the Azure four-seat convertible uses the same 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 as the saloon. Engineers have improved body stiffness over the old model, which is crucial for a roofless car of such vast proportions. As well as traditional strengthening in the sills, A-pillars and underbody, the Azure has two unique carbon fibre crossmembers linking the front and rear subframes. Of course, a car that costs nearly a quarter of a million pounds is always going to be exclusive, and the Azure has no conventional rivals. It's more likely to be brought instead of an oil painting or cruise boat that a Mercedes or Aston Martin.
Owning: The triple-layer fabric of the Azure's roof ensures superb sound insulation. And, despite the hood's impressive size, it folds neatly and quickly into a panel behind the back seats. It then lies flush with the bootlid. The process takes around 14 seconds. When raised, wind noise is no greater than in the saloon. The headlining is completely smooth and even includes a rear reading light - a first for an open-topped car. Constructed of triple-layer fabric, it is fully automatic and operates very quietly at driving speeds up to 20mph. The cabin has the traditional dash from the Arnage, while beautiful hand-polished wood, sumptuous leather and thick carpets create a luxurious feel. There's no reach adjustment on the steering wheel but the driving position is accommodating, and there's plenty of rear legroom. And despite the bygone-age appearance, the interior boasts lots of hi-tech features, plus the ability for bespoke tailoring. But then, at an eye-watering £222,500, you'd hope so, too...