The current big Bentley, the Arnage family, is taking a final bow. While the premiere of last year’s Brooklands was a car that was more for the English crowd (foul-weather friendly hard top, understated coupe styling, etc.), the 2009 Azure T is more for an American crowd ("hey look me and at what I can afford!")
It’s safe to write that the Azure T is the most elegant convertible at the moment. PETA gets woozy every time it thinks about how many cows had to die so that the ultra-rich can have coddled hands, legs, elbows and butts. Like any good Bentley, there are only understated changes to the exterior. Little things like new 20-inch five-spoke two-piece alloy wheels, ‘Le Mans’ lower front wing air vents, and dark-tinted upper and lower grilles.
Like with most big Bentleys, its no slouch. Under the hood Bentley placed a liter twin-turbocharged version of their older-than-dust 6.75 V8 engine that produces 500bhp (50 hp more than the standard Arnage sedan, but 30 hp less than the Brooklands). The Azure T makes the 0-60 mph sprint in 5.2 seconds, hits 100 mph in 12.1 seconds, and doesn’t stop until it reaches the top speed of 179 mph.
While all Bentleys are extremely exclusive, there was no announced cap on productions as there is with the 550-unit Brooklands. Then again, it’s likely there won’t be too many neighbors picking up the kids from soccer practice in this.
The car is set to debut at the LA Auto Show this month. Why LA? Because although Bentley would not divulge the price of the super-lux ragtop (the Brooklands cost $680,000,) most of those who can afford it have had their names on a few movie posters or at least rapped about how much money they have.
If you want to be reminded of just how much money you don’t make, read the press release after the jump.
Stylish and powerful, the new Bentley Azure T is the world’s most elegant convertible and destined to become a future classic. With unique Bentley ‘T’ styling cues reinforcing its sporting stance, the 500bhp Azure T delivers driver-focused performance with the ability to transport four adults in first-class, open-top luxury.
The new Azure T, specified with the high performance version of Crewe’s iconic 6¾ litre V8 engine, is the latest in a line of Bentley models to bear the ‘T’ legend. The 1996 Continental coupe was the first modern Bentley ‘T’, followed in 2002 by the Arnage T, both flagship models with a distinctive sporting character and thunderous performance.
The Azure’s already striking form is now enhanced by 20-inch 5-spoke wheels and tyres, ‘Le Mans’ front wing vents, dark tint matrix grille and a sculpted, retractable Flying ‘B’ mascot.
For the performance-oriented Azure T, the twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces 500bhp and 1000 Nm of torque – an 11 per cent increase in power and a 14 per cent increase in torque over its 450bhp/875 Nm Azure stable mate.
The famous Bentley wave of torque is even more prodigious than before and performance is significantly raised with a top speed of 179 mph (288 km/h) and a 0-60 mph time of just 5.2 seconds (0-100 km/h in 5.5 sec). Member of the Board, Sales and Marketing, Stuart McCullough comments:
“The new Azure T reflects our passion for creating the world’s most exhilarating and prestigious convertibles that, true to the Bentley T tradition, blend sophistication with a powerful presence.”
BENTLEY AZURE T – NEWS IN BRIEF
* Exterior design styling changes, as standard, include:
20-inch five-spoke ‘Bright Finish’ alloy wheels
Retractable ‘Flying B’ bonnet mascot
Dark tint matrix upper and lower grilles
‘Le Mans’ lower front wing air vents
Bentley ‘Jewel’ fuel filler cap
Twin exhaust tail pipes
Choice of 42 exterior paint colours
* Interior design enhancements, as standard, include:
Diamond quilting to seats and door panels
Drilled alloy brake and accelerator pedals
‘Engine-turned’ aluminium finish to fascia
Instrument faces in black
Embroidered ‘Bentley’ emblems to front seats and rear seat centre
Choice of 8 unbleached veneers and 25 hides from full Bentley range
Knurled finish to: organ stops, mirror adjustors, door handles (interior and exterior), light switch and seat lumbar controls
Knurled & chromed gear knob
* Further enhancements to the standard Azure T specification include:
Large display audio head unit with Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot
Hide covered boot rail
* Further enhancements to the Azure T optional specification include:
‘Naim for Bentley’ premium audio system delivering the world’s best in-car sound stage and featuring 10 speakers, a dual channel sub-woofer and an 1100 Watt amplifier, plus eight individual Digital Signal Processor (DSP) modes to reproduce true emotions and a ‘live’ concert-like experience.
* Arnage T powertrain with 6¾ litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, producing 500bhp and 1000 Nm of torque – increases of 11% and 14 % respectively
* Top speed raised to 179 mph (288 km/h).
* 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds (0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds).
* Acceleration to 100 mph cut to 12.1 seconds (0-160 km/h in 12.0 seconds).
* Six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sophisticated locking torque converter provides fast yet ultra-smooth gearshifts
* Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) logic system improves dynamic response and handling with less intrusive intervention when a reduction in grip is detected
* Tyre Pressure Monitoring System fitted as standard
A UNIQUE OPEN-TOP MOTORING EXPERIENCE
Based on the Azure, the Azure T offers a range of discreet exterior cues that further enhance its powerful stance and hint at its increased performance potential. Key ingredients of its distinctive appearance include design features 20-inch five-spoke, two-piece alloy wheels and ‘Le Mans’ lower front wing air vents.
Further distinguishing points from the Azure are standard features such as dark-tinted upper and lower grilles, ‘jewel’ fuel filler cap (made from billet aluminium) and door mirror mountings finished in body colour.
Like the Bentley Brooklands, the Azure T sports the iconic Flying ‘B’ mascot, which can retract neatly into the grille surround. Originally designed by motoring artist F. Gordon Crosby, the ‘B’ was first used on the 1930 Bentley 8-Litre.
With exterior lines that echo visual elements of the Bentley Mk.6 from 1946, the Azure was enthusiastically received on its original debut as a concept car at the Los Angeles Show in January 2005. Now, as the Azure T makes its own ‘debut’ at LA, Raul Pires, Manager of Exterior design for Bentley Motors, notes:
“The Azure’s proportions provided us with the ideal platform to work with when creating the new Azure T. The prominent haunches and ‘supermodel’ body inspired our designers to create a new interpretation of a Bentley convertible with the accent placed on a more muscular, sporting stance.”
Bentley’s designers highlight the 1955 Park Ward S1 Drophead Coupé and 1995 Azure as the main influences for the current Azure and Azure T. Like the ’50s convertible, the car has a deep body with a single feature line that runs along both flanks and rises at the powerful rear haunches before spearing off at the rear of the car. Similarly, the Azure T’s fast and flowing roofline is echoed in its seven-bow canvas roof that gives the car a visible sporting profile when raised.
Prominent wheel arches grace a slender, narrowing boot that results in a ‘horse shoe’ trailing edge. This elegant shape is reminiscent of the first Crewe-built Bentley, the Mk.6, and the overall effect is a subtle hint at the power and performance that lies beneath the Azure T’s bodywork.
Delicate brightware detailing accentuates the flowing lines of the Azure T and this includes rear tail-lamp bezels, exhaust finishes and slender strips that run the length of the car.
Significant time and effort has gone into making the Azure T’s folding roof attractive as well as highly functional. Operated hydraulically at the touch of a switch, the impressive, three-layer canvas roof is elegantly stowed beneath the rear parcel shelf in a matter of 25 seconds. Because the roof is held in a separate well area, there is no impact on the generous boot space which was designed to hold two sets of golf clubs and hand luggage.
EFFORTLESS PERFORMANCE FROM MIGHTY V8
The engine and transmission of the Azure T are identical to those already employed in the high-performance Arnage T and Arnage Final Series saloons. In this specification, Bentley’s remarkable all-aluminium 6¾ litre V8 engine produces 500 bhp (507PS/373kW) and 1000 Nm (738lb ft) of torque – with over 90 per cent of that torque available between 1,800 and 3,800 rev/min – figures that ensure the signature Bentley ‘wave of torque’ delivers effortless performance for a unique open-top convertible driving experience.
Each of these hand-made V8 engines comes with a black-finish air intake manifold bearing the signature of the team leader who oversaw its construction by Bentley technicians in the Crewe factory. The six-speed ZF automatic transmission ensures optimum flexibility, response and refinement. Three transmission modes (Drive, Sport and Manual) allow the driver to take full advantage of the powerful 500 bhp V8 engine.
A sophisticated electronic management system provides fast yet smooth gearshifts regardless of how the car is being driven. Another important feature of the latest Azure T is the separation of the sports suspension and sports gearbox settings, allowing the driver to select their preference for each system independently – via a ‘Sport’ switch on the dashboard for the suspension and by positioning the gearlever for the transmission’s Sport mode.
Bentley’s V8 guarantees outstanding performance levels. From standstill, acceleration to 60 mph is achieved in just 5.2 seconds (0-100 km/h 5.5 seconds), 100 mph reached in 12.1 seconds (160 km/h in 12.0 seconds) and a top speed of 179 mph (288 km/h) is possible.
DYNAMIC HANDLING, SUPERB RIDE AND AWESOME BRAKING
The Azure’s double wishbone front and rear suspension is carried over to the Azure T unaltered. Set-up and fine-tuned to give a refined ride that best suits the character of this convertible Bentley, the system features coil springs with computer-controlled, adaptive electro-hydraulic dampers and automatic ride-height control with auto-load compensation.
The Azure T’s suspension delivers impressive body control in all driving conditions, while the new five-spoke, two-piece 8.5J x 20-inch Sports alloy wheels with 255/40 ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tyres further improve handling and road holding.
As an option, Azure T owners may specify an upgraded braking system with carbon/silicon carbide, cross-drilled brake ventilated discs. Measuring 420 x 40 mm (front) and 356 x 28 mm (rear), these discs are the largest fitted to any production car on sale today. With eight-piston callipers, the brakes provide impressive deceleration and also give an 8 kg reduction in unsprung weight, benefiting steering response, ride suppleness and acceleration.
This lightweight braking system ensures virtually fade-free use, time after time, and superb resistance to disc distortion under high thermal conditions. Under normal use, the brake discs will last the lifetime of the car and pad life is doubled compare to the standard system.
For Azure T and its Bentley stable mates, the Traction Control system is calibrated with the aim of avoiding all unnecessary reductions in engine torque. The ESP logic system, which is set up to allow spirited handling without any reduction in stability or safety, monitors the car’s overall stability rather than simply loss of grip to the wheels. This reduces the amount of intervention required and restores power earlier and more progressively, allowing the power of the Azure T’s V8 engine to be fully exploited.
The Bentley Azure T enjoys an 11 per cent power and 14 per cent torque increase compared with Azure and the strength and stiffness of the original chassis are such that no changes were deemed necessary, as Brian Gush, Director of Powertrain and Chassis, explains:
“The Azure chassis has always had an immense potential and this enables us to offer the extra power of our 500 bhp V8 engine and the driver-focused qualities of a true Bentley T without compromising ride comfort.”
Compared with the Arnage, the Azure T benefits from significant stiffening members. These strengthened steel parts lie in the sill section of the car and extend into the A-pillars that form the windscreen frame. Beneath the front and rear of the Azure, carbon fibre cross-bracing members reinforce the whole bodyshell, while adding far less weight than steel.
Strengthening has also been applied to the body structure behind the rear seats where an advanced rollover protection system is fitted. This immediately detects if the car is in danger of inverting and deploys two hoops that are integrated within the rear headrests. In conjunction with the strengthened front windscreen frame, these are capable of supporting 2.5 times the entire weight of an over-turned car.
Befitting its role as a new Bentley flagship convertible, the Azure T embodies a range of standard features that were previously unavailable or only available as cost options on the Azure. The seats and door panels have Diamond Quilting, the fascia features an ‘engine-turned’ aluminium finish (reminiscent of 1920s racing Bentleys), and the instrument faces are finished in Black rather than Parchment.
Bentley emblems are embroidered on the front seat backs and the rear seat centre, an iPod/USB interface is provided, while the full range of Bentley’s premium veneers is available, a knurled finish is applied to several handles and switches and a knurled, chrome gear knob is fitted.
The new Azure T will have a strong appeal to Bentley customers, as Trevor Gay, Personal Commissioning Manager at Mulliner (Bentley’s specialist commissioning department), explains:
“The Azure has always stood apart from the rest of the Bentley range and the higher-performance Azure T will allow customers the opportunity to use the Mulliner service to create a bespoke convertible to their exact specification.”
Although many of the most desirable Mulliner options are included in Azure T as standard, Bentley anticipates that the majority of buyers will request additional enhancements. Inside, the Azure T is everything customers would expect of a bespoke Bentley, offering the highest levels of hand-craftsmanship to a small, discerning audience. The interior offers a spacious, luxurious cabin to provide the ultimate in first-class, open-top travel for four adults.
As in every Bentley, craftsmanship and bespoke finishing are to the fore. Every item of trim, be it veneer, hide or chromed bezel, uses authentic materials.
Azure T is available in the full Bentley range of 42 exterior colours, 25 interior hides, and the full range of premium veneers, plus the comprehensive line-up of Mulliner options and its bespoke colour-matching service that enable Bentley owners to create a uniquely personal car.
Of course, the nature of a convertible means that its interior is often on display as much as its exterior and Bentley’s design team knew that the Azure T’s spacious cabin should make a strong a statement. Consequently, warm and inviting leather hide extend past the seats and onto the parcel shelf and this emphasises the dimensions of the rear compartment.
A new audio head unit with larger display screen and an SD (secure digital) memory card slot instead of the single CD slot is fitted. At the rear, a new hide-covered boot rail with coordinated leather trim and a chrome strip along the top edge gives the load area a tidier, premium appearance.
All Azure T models come with an iPod Interface linked to the Infotainment system, enabling customers to play their favourite music through the car’s audio system. The system is supplied with connectors for iPod, USB, Mini USB and a 3.5 mm AUX jack and includes a 12 volt power outlet for charging purposes.
As an option, Azure T buyers can specify the Naim for Bentley premium audio system. Created in partnership with Bentley by Naim Audio, a UK-based high end hi-fi manufacturer, this system features 10 speakers, a dual-channel sub-woofer and an 1100 Watt amplifier, plus eight individual DSP modes to reproduce true emotions and a ‘live’ concert-like experience.
In Azure T the sub-woofers are located in the rear passenger footwells and contained within a special enclosure to ensure the sound of this pure music remains within the open cabin.
BENTLEY AZURE T – TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION
AZURE T AZURE
Engine type Twin-turbocharged
90-degree V8 Twin-turbocharged 90-degree V8
Engine displacement 6¾ litres, 6761 cc 6¾ litres, 6761 cc
Maximum power 500 bhp / 507 PS / 373 kW
@ 4,200 rev/min 450 bhp / 456 PS / 336kW @ 4100 rev/min
Maximum torque 738 lb ft / 1,000 Nm @
3,200 rev/min 645 lb ft / 875Nm @ 1,800 rev/min
Compression ratio 7.8:1 7.8:1
Emission standards EU IV / US LEV II EU IV / US LEV II
Transmission 6-speed ZF automatic gearbox
with semi-automatic and
sports functions 6-speed ZF automatic gearbox with semi-automatic and sports functions
0-60 mph 5.2 sec 5.6 sec
0-100 km/h 5.5 sec 5.9 sec
0-100 mph 12.1 sec 13.4 sec
0-160 km/h 12.0 sec 13.3 sec
Maximum speed 179 mph/288 km/h 171 mph/274 km/h
Steering 3.18 turns lock-to-lock
Type Speed sensitive, hydraulic power assisted, rack and pinion steering system
Suspension Double wishbones front and rear, with coil springs and computer-controlled adaptive, electro-hydraulic damping system (ARC) and automatic ride-height control with auto load compensation and headlamp levelling
Braking (front/rear) Micro-alloy ventilated discs
Hydraulically boosted front and rear circuits with stability control system
Urban 28.8 (litres/100km) / 9.8 mpg
Extra-urban 14.1 (litres/100km) / 20.1 mpg
Combined 19.5 (litres/100km) / 14.5 mpg
EU drive cycle CO2
Fuel type 465 g/km (combined)
98 (95) RON
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Wheelbase 5410 mm (212.60 in)
2125 mm (83.66 in) including door mirrors
1492 mm (58.74 in)
3116 mm (122.68 in)
Front track 1608 mm (63.13 in)
Rear track 1608 mm (63.13 in)
Width 1900 mm (74.8 in) with mirrors folded
Luggage compartment 0.316m3 / 310 litres / 10.95 cu ft
Kerb weight 2695 kg (5699 lbs)
Gross vehicle weight 3065 kg (7948 lbs)
Front axle weight 1535 kg (3384 lbs)
Rear axle weight 1615 kg (3560 lbs)
Fuel tank capacity 96.0 litres (25.3 US gallons)
BENTLEY AZURE T – STANDARD FEATURES
o Choice of 42 exterior paint colours
o Retractable ‘Flying B’ bonnet mascot
o Body coloured headlamp bezels
o Dark tint upper and lower grilles
o ‘Le Mans’ lower front wing vents
o Bentley ‘jewel’ fuel filler cap
o Twin oval exhaust tail pipes
o 20-inch five-spoke Sport aluminium alloy wheels
o Body coloured door mirror mountings
o Black finish intake manifold for engine
o Leather hides with choice of 25 colours
o Diamond quilting to seats and door panels
o Treadplates featuring AZURE name
o Multiple choice of unbleached premium wood veneers from full range
o Bright engine spin ‘spun aluminium’ fascia finish
o Drilled alloy brake and accelerator
o Instrument faces in black
o Embroidered Marque emblems to front seat backs and rear seat centre
o iPod/USB interface with 12-volt power outlet
o Knurled finish to organ stops (front and rear), door mirror adjusters, interior door handles, exterior door handles, light switch and seat lumbar controls.
o Knurled chrome and hide sporting gear lever
o Leather trimmed boot rail
o Eight-speaker audio system with 6-disc CD changer in the boot and SD card slot in new dash-mounted head unit with larger display
SEATING / CONTROLS
o Memory facility linking driver’s seat, exterior mirrors and steering wheel
o Electrically adjustable tilt steering wheel with cruise control switches
o Electrochromic self-dimming interior rear-view mirror
o Electrochromic door mirrors dip on selection of reverse
o One-touch front window operation
o Multi-zone air-conditioning system
o Dehumidifier plus pollen and dust micro-filters
SAFETY & SECURITY
o Dual front, plus front and rear thorax and curtain airbags
o Pre-tensioned and load-limited seatbelts
o Tyre pressure monitoring system
o Xenon dipped beam headlamps
o ESP (Electronic Stability Programme)
o Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA)
o Park Distance Control (front and rear)
o Multi-function programmable alarm and immobiliser
o Perimeter monitor with inclination sensor
o Volumetric interior monitor with glass break sensor
o Central locking and deadlock system
BENTLEY AZURE T – OPTIONS AVAILABLE
o Naim for Bentley 1100 Watt premium audio system with 10 speakers
o Dark tint 20-inch five-spoke Sport aluminium alloy wheels
o Dark tint engine-turned aluminium fascia finish
o Carbon silicon carbide cross-drilled disc brakes
MULLINER OPTIONS (principal options only listed)
o Leather hides from previous Bentley model ranges
o Leather hide colours matched to customer specification
o Alternative premium veneers
o NavTrak ADR (Automatic Driver Recognition) with 24-hour car location and tracking (UK and Europe only)
SERVICE & WARRANTY
o Service intervals 10,000 miles or 12 months
o 3 Years unlimited mileage warranty