Bentley «New» Azure
The Los Angeles Motor Show in January 2005 had seen the presentation of a conception car „Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupé“ that was a test to check if there was sufficient demand. Obviously this had been the case because some 8 months later at Frankfurt’s International Motor Show the first series-model was launched. The designation “Azure” did permit to speculate whether in later years there might occur certain irritation because this was no new model name. A big drophead coupe to a design Pininfarina had been ranking prominently in Bentley’s portfolio with exactly this designation from 1995 until production ceased in 2003. The new model ignited the question, too, whether or not friction to a certain extend might be expected from an in-house competitor. The Bentley Continental GT Cabriolet was announced to make its debut within the next months.
Hence there was good reason to check carefully what the new model had to offer. With its four full-size seats (none of the restrictions from a 2+2) and an outward appearance clearly based on its forerunner’s design here stood a car on the platform and with the technical equipment of the Bentley Arnage R. Vital design elements, e.g. the front with separate twin headlamps and the layout of the instruments on the fascia could also be traced to the Arnage R. A detailed inspection showed the new cabriolet had only marginal bigger outward dimensions but offered more cabin space; rear seat occupants enjoyed a width that had been extended by 20 % when compared with that of the predecessor. Less obvious but important were the introduction of high technology, lightweight, carbon fibre, under-floor cross braces that contribute to the exceptional levels of body stiffness. An advanced roll-over protection system was a safety device that was a “First” for a Bentley drophead coupe.
A critic might have pointed to the fact that there had been a period of 2 years between production-stop of the Bentley Azure and the debut of the Bentley „New” Azure. 2 years were considered by marketing experts actually as “critical period”, too, to achieve a clear view if there was sufficient demand in the market for two different drophead coupes by Bentley, the Bentley New Azure and the Bentley Continental GT Cabriolet, launched but a few months later.
Light alloy 8-cylinder-engine with 90 degree V-configuration, bore x stroke 104 x 99 mm (4.1 x 3.9 in), capacity 6,761 cc; twin turbochargers with intercooler; digital engine control, 450 bhp at 4,100rpm, max. torque 645 lb ft at 3,250 rpm (875 Nm at 3,250 rpm); 4-speed automatic gearbox; independent suspension front and rear, double wishbones, adaptive electro-hydraulic damping system (ARC) computer-controlled; electronic stability program; ventilated disc brakes (front 348mm, rear 345mm); wheelbase 3,116mm (122.7in), track front 1,610 mm (63.4 in), rear 1,610 mm (63.4 in); tyre size 255/45 R19 Pirelli P-Zero on light alloy wheels 8.0J x 19; max. speed 168mph (270km/h), 0-60mph 5.9 sec.)
(1 Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors)