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.”
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 such as 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 compared 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 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.