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Bentley Azure

Bentley Azure

When a brand as rarefied as Bentley creates an imposing 18-foot-long land mass and gives it room for four, a fold-down roof and a price on par with L.A. real estate, people of means take notice. Although the Bentley Azure convertible was originally designed for old-money, old-world types living in Lake Country chateaus, more than a few Azures have found their way into the hands of West Coast superstars and MTV hip-hop videos. Of the previous-generation Azure, sold from 1995-2003, it's said that fewer than 1,500 were sold.

For 2007, Bentley is reintroducing the Azure. Where it was once based on the old Continental, this time the Azure is related to the current Arnage sedan. Of course, the Arnage isn't exactly the pinnacle of modern design, but Bentley's engineers have done considerable work to make it suitable for topless duty.

The Azure's new structure is dramatically stiffer and promises better road isolation and handling ability. Also updated is the engine. As in other 2007 Bentleys, the 6.8-liter V8 gets a new set of twin turbochargers this year and a 450-horsepower output. Also significant is the move to a six-speed automatic transmission, a welcome upgrade over the old four-speed. Fuel economy, blunted by the car's approximate 3 tons of mass, still barely manages to rise into the double digits, however.

The Azure's interior is unmistakably Bentley. Generous helpings of burl walnut wood create a unique appearance as soft leather cossets the two front thrones. Expect less comfort for the rear pair. And expect frustration when trying to operate the unfriendly and unattractive audio and navigation controls -- the side effect of imposing modern technology on an old-fashioned cabin design. Fortunately, restoring the smiles is as easy as powering back the Azure's enormous fabric roof.

As expected, normal shopping advice doesn't really apply to the $337,000 2007 Bentley Azure. If you've got the financial backing and like the car's image and prestige, you certainly don't need validation from us. Still, were it our choice, we can't help but think that Bentley's own Continental GTC and its 102 extra hp and better-engineered and 500-pounds-lighter chassis makes it a vastly more compelling drive. Alternately, it's probably worth waiting a bit for Rolls-Royce's Phantom Drophead Coupe to arrive, as it will be the Azure's only true competitor.

2007 Bentley Azure ResearchBody

Styles: 2-Dr Convertible
Transmissions 6 Speed Semi-Automatic
Engines: 6.8L V8
Drivetrains: Rear Wheel Drive

Bentley Models

Bentley Arnage
Bentley Azure
Bentley Continental
Bentley Continental FlyingSpur
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