What's New for 2002
Bentley's two-door four-seat convertible was introduced in 1995 and underwent a slight restyling in 1998. No modifications have been made since then.
Allergic to faux-leather vinyl? Plastic wood give you hives? Feel the heebee-jeebees when nylon brushes against you? Then get thee to your nearest Bentley dealer for a cure for the synthetic blues. Save for some switchgear, you will have little chance of coming in contact with anything other than organic materials or animal by-products.
Case in point: the Bentley Azure. Practically every surface is swathed in magnificent materials, from the fine Connolly leather on your seats (heated, of course, to warm your bum) to the matching hide on your steering wheel and the dashboard cowl. Wilton carpet and lamb's wool rugs prevent scuffs on your Tod's driving moccasins, and you've a wide choice of fine wood veneers and finishes, including burr walnut with straight-grained walnut banding. Every detail can be specified to order. Even exterior bodywork can be modified -- provided it does not compromise the integrity of the car and complies with safety legislation.
Underneath the sheetmetal, which is coated in nacre-like paint, is a fire-breathing monster of a powerplant. A turbocharged 6.75-liter V8 produces 400 horses and 590 pound-feet of torque. It'll propel you from 0 to 60 in about 6.3 seconds, besting the time of its Rolls-Royce Corniche brethren by nearly 2 seconds. The Bentley provides a more sporting ride, too, with its full-length lever arm front suspension and semi-trailing arm rear suspension. Automatic Ride Control (ARC) provides computer control of the suspension dampers to optimize ride comfort and handling.
Those who would prefer to feel like they're floating on a cloud (and by the time you've spent this much money, aren't you achieving godlike status?) can opt for the Mulliner Edition, with its suspension system tuned to accentuate a softly comfortable ride, and the engine massaged to provide an extra 60 pound-feet of low-end grunt.
You'll be pleased with the idiot-proof convertible top operation: push a button, the thing self-boots neatly into its compartment, and you're up for some sun-soaked, open-air fun, if not on the Cote D'Azure like the name connotes, then at least in the parking lot of Mervyn's.
If you get the Azure over the Corniche, you'll get a bigger, more powerful engine, a lighter car and the same amount of amenities, all in a refined-to-the-point-of-reproach package that's been hand-assembled in Crewe, England. You'll also lay claim to the center console-mounted six-disc CD changer, operable by a remote control, so that darling Mum won't have to deign to ask Preston to bring in da noise and da ensuing funk. But, of course, you'll be missing the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and the whitewall tires. Instead, you'll get a handsome grille and blackwalls that might tone down the pimp-daddy factor. Come on, get Bent and buy a Jetta for Preston with the $20,000 you'll save.