New Bentley Azure
The luxurious four-seater Azure, which goes on sale in Spring 2006, is the latest in a portfolio of wonderfully desirable 'dropheads' stretching back many decades and reaffirms Bentley's reputation as creator of the world's most elegant convertibles.
Bentley first hinted that a new Azure might be in the pipeline when it unveiled the glamorous Arnage Drophead CoupĂ© show car at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2005. The show car stimulated such interest among Bentley aficionados that the decision was quickly taken to continue its extensive development programme in time for delivery of the first customer cars in Spring 2006. Last month, Bentley announced that the production version of the show car would carry the evocative Azure name. Like its iconic predecessor, which was in production from 1995 to 2002, the new Azure becomes the flagship of the Bentley model range.
The design of the new Azure is, first and foremost, unmistakeably Bentley. It shares its face with the current Arnage range and its platform ensures it seats four adults in supreme comfort. But it is also unmistakeably unique. The entire cabin and rear section of the car are newly designed, with a stunning bespoke interior; the objective being to create an opulent and inviting seating area that reflects its status as a car that is at home in Palm Springs or the Riviera. The complex folding roof on the convertible is operated hydraulically at the touch of a switch: the impressive, three-layer fabric assembly being elegantly stowed beneath the hide-trimmed tonneau in under 30 seconds.
The twin-turbocharged V8 engine, double-wishbone suspension and extremely rigid body structure of the Arnage provide a state-of-the-art basis for the new Azure. It is powered by a 450bhp (336Kw) version of the Arnageâ€™s 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged intercooled V8 engine and produces 875Nm (645lb ft) of torque.
The specification of the production version of the Azure is virtually unchanged from the original L.A. show car. The principle change is the introduction of high technology, lightweight, carbon fibre, under-floor cross braces that contribute to the exceptional levels of body stiffness, benefiting refinement, ride and handling. In addition, the chrome trimmed bumpers and sills of the show car are now painted in body colour with a delicate chrome trim that runs the length of the car, enhancing the flowing lines of the Azure body.
"The production-specification Bentley Azure graces our stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show just nine months after we revealed our concept car in Los Angeles," says Bentley Motors chairman, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen. "We enjoy an excellent dialogue with our customers and the new Azure epitomises how responsive Bentley is to satisfying their aspirations. Bentley develops and produces cars that people desire and that are faithful to our heritage. The new Azure is the perfect example of this philosophy."
Details of market availability and pricing will be released nearer the Azureâ€™s on-sale date.