What Changed for 2009:Overview
Founded by W.O. Bentley in 1919, Bentley Motors has been manufacturing luxury automobiles in England for nearly a century. The automaker has changed ownership many times over the decades, but it has always remained focused on building some of the world's finest hand-crafted automobiles, while almost every other automaker has resorted to automated assembly lines. The slow assembly pace and attention to detail allows Bentley to meet the specific requirements of even their most demanding customers, the company says.
In 1998, Bentley
was purchased by Volkswagen
. At the time, the first-generation Azure convertible (based on the decade-old Continental R platform) was already on the market. Instead of an immediate re-design, Volkswagen kept that model on the market until 2006, when the all-new, second-generation model debuted
. The revised model was based on Bentley's newer Arnage
platform, giving both models the identical mechanicals, running gear, and much of the same interior appointments. The 2008 model year was mostly a carry-over for the luxurious Bentley Azure convertible, and the same holds true for 2009.Model Lineup
The 2009 Bentley Azure convertible is essentially a twin of the Bentley Arnage-without the steel roof. As such, the Azure mirrors much of the powertrain and equipment found on the short-wheelbase Arnage R model. The Bentley Azure offers seating for 4 passengers within a cabin rich with supple leather, real wood and polished veneers. Passengers sit under an automatic power-operated top that is designed to retract to an open sky in just 25 seconds. Closed, the multi-layer cloth top isolates passengers from the outside world with its thick insulation, designed to keep sound and temperature extremes at bay.
The Bentley Azure is equipped with a long list of standard equipment and luxury features including power massage seating, park distance control, and a satellite navigation system. Automatic climate control (with residual heat), full power accessories, and Bluetooth communication are standard equipment. The Alpine audio system includes a 6-disc CD changer and a reverse camera that projects its display on the navigation screen. Options on the Azure include special duo-tone paint (customers choose from a pallet of 39 different available colors), a retractable "Flying B" radiator mascot, chrome accents, and upgraded wheels and tires. Bentley's Mulliner-a specialized personalization department-helps owners to customize their vehicles with special colors, leathers or electronics before taking delivery. All Bentleys are covered by a 3-year/unlimited-mileage factory warranty.Powertrain
Under the long hood of the 2009 Bentley Azure is a twin-turbocharged 8-cylinder powerplant. The V-8 engine displaces 6.8 liters and is rated at 450 hp and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. It is connected to a 6-speed automatic gearbox with a semi-automatic and sports function which, under full throttle, allows the luxurious Azure convertible to accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds, the maker says. According to Bentley, the top speed for the Azure is 171 mph. The 2009 Bentley Azure earned EPA fuel-economy ratings of 9 mpg city/15 mpg highway.
The suspension is an independent double-wishbone design in both the front and rear of the vehicle. Computers control the adaptive electro-hydraulic damping system, ride height control, and automatic load leveling to keep the passengers comfortable, and limit body roll. The rack-and-pinion steering is power-assisted and varies boost based upon the Azure's speed. The brakes are "micro-alloy" ventilated discs on all four corners with anti-lock (ABS) control. Standard on the Bentley Azure are 19-inch, 12-spoke painted aluminum alloy wheels, with several different styles (and finishes) optionally available.Safety
In addition to the standard ABS, the Bentley Azure is fitted with hydraulic brake assist, ASR traction control, an electronic stability program (ESP), and electronic brake-pressure distribution. An all-steel monocoque bodyshell protects occupants, while full-sized driver and passenger frontal air bags including side-impact air bags (with thorax protection) provide wraparound passive safety, according to the company.
As of this writing, the Azure has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA
) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS
The 6.8-liter Bentley engine in the Azure traces its roots back to the 1950s. In the first-generation Azure, the V-8 made an even 400 hp from a single turbocharger. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission. In 2001, Volkswagen invested heavily in the powerplant and thoroughly revised it in preparation for use in the second-generation Azure. More than half of the engine's components were replaced, and a new Bosch Motronic engine management system was installed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. The single turbocharger was replaced by two smaller Garrett turbos for reduced turbo lag and even more useable power. Now with the engine rated at 450 hp, the transmission was replaced by a computer-controlled 6-speed unit for smoother shifts and faster acceleration, Bentley says.