Like a priceless Louis XV cabinet or a rare Biedermeier cupboard, Bentley convertibles have always been top-shelf items built to satisfy the self-indulgent demands of the well-to-do. True to this tradition, the new 2007 edition of the classic Azure is a devilishly expensive and supremely luxurious land yacht. Mechanically speaking, the Azure is basically a two-door Arnage with a power-operated canvas top. What makes it special are old-world ingredients such as rear-wheel drive, a 6.8-liter twin-turbo OHV V-8, and a bespoke interior.
The styling of the new Azure is as textbook conservative as that of a London taxi or Buckingham Palace. But the magic is in the proportions: an imposing body that measures almost eighteen feet between bumpers; an in-your-face mesh grille flanked by two expressionless headlamps; a hood vast enough to hide a miniature nuclear power plant; and a stately rear overhang. The cabin lacks modernities such as Mercedes-Benz SLK-style neck-warming vents, so the four occupants must rely entirely on the windshield and on the tall side windows to brave the elements. In appearance and approach, this new Bentley seems like a leftover from the late 1980s, but the driving experience most certainly isn’t.