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First look: Azure T takes open-top Bentley to new heights

T treatment: Most expensive Bentley will pack 500hp and 1000Nm.

Bentley winds up the wick of its Azure to create the world's gruntiest convertible

14 Nov 2008

IN THE market for a top-end convertible with a little more luxury than the Ferrari Spider Scuderia revealed this week, but don’t quite want to stretch to Rolls-Royce’s $1.19 million Phantom Drophead Coupe?Then the Azure T, revealed this week by Bentley Motors as the world’s quickest and torquiest luxury convertible ahead of its Los Angeles motor show public debut next week, could well be the ticket.

Based on the Volkswagen premium brand’s sublime Azure convertible (priced at $684,100 here), the higher-performance Azure T is propelled by an even more powerful version of the standard convertible’s 6.8-litre twin-turbocharged 90-degree V8.

With 11 per cent more power (373kW at 4200rpm – up from 336kW at 4100rpm) and 14 per cent more torque (1000Nm at 3200rpm versus 875Nm at 1800rpm), the Azure T offers the same positively bruising performance as the Arnage T sedan released in 2002.

Indeed, it is enough to heave the 2695kg drop-top to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds (down from 5.9 seconds for the garden-variety Azure) and on to a top speed of 288km/h – up from 274km/h.

54 center imageFor what it’s worth, the Azure T officially consumes 98 RON premium unleaded fuel at the rate of 14.1 litres per 100km on the highway and 28.8L/100km in the city, for a combined EU consumption figure of 19.5L/100km. The average EU CO2 figure is 465 grams per kilometre.

Of course, a host of interior and exterior changes further differentiate the T from its lesser Azure sibling to justify its price premium, which is expected to be similar to the $42,500 that buyers of the Arnage T ($574,000) pay over the Arnage R ($531,500).

So expect a price tag of around $720,000, making the Azure T even more expensive than Bentley’s current range-topper, the $695,700 Brooklands Coupe.

Mind you, while that’s at least $100,000 more than Ferrari’s fastest convertible, 10 of which have been earmarked for Australia and New Zealand, it is also $470,000 less than BMW’s convertible Rolls-Royce, for which no fewer than 13 Australians had placed orders by the time it went on sale here in September last year.

The Azure T, which Bentley describes as the world’s most elegant four-seat convertible and is aimed primarily at the US market, will therefore be significantly more exclusive than both convertibles, with the first of only a handful of examples due to touch down in Australia from October 2009. It is expected to attract mostly “existing Azure customers and Arnage range loyalists”.

Key exterior features unique to the Azure T include 20-inch five-spoke ‘Bright Finish’ alloy wheels, a retractable ‘Flying B’ bonnet mascot, dark-tint matrix upper and lower grilles, ‘Le Mans’ lower front wing air-vents, a Bentley ‘Jewel’ fuel filler cap, twin exhaust outlets and the choice of 42 exterior paint colours.

Inside, the soft-topped T offers diamond quilting to its seats and door panels, drilled alloy brake and accelerator pedals, ‘Engine-turned’ aluminium fascia finish, black instrument faces, embroidered ‘Bentley’ seat emblems, an iPod/USB interface, the choice of eight unbleached veneers and 25 leather trims, a knurled and chromed gearshifter and knurled finishes for the organ stops, mirror adjusters, knurled interior and exterior door-handles, a hide-covered boot rail, a large-display audio head unit with SD memory card slot, and light switch and seat lumbar controls.

Exclusive Azure T options include dark-tint 20-inch five-spoke Sport aluminium alloy wheels, dark-tint engine-turned aluminium fascia finish, carbon/silicon carbide cross-drilled disc brakes and a ‘Naim for Bentley’ premium audio system featuring 10 speakers, a dual-channel sub-woofer and 1100-Watt amplifier, plus eight individual Digital Signal Processor (DSP) modes.

Read more:

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First drive: Bentley applies more urge to Arnage

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