A cravat, liver-spotted hands and a share portfolio. Just three of the things I feel I ought to have before taking the wheel of the Bentley Azure, especially one finished in light metallic blue with magnolia trim. The classically elegant profile is at odds with the modern moulded bumpers and light treatment, but, as we have previously reported, the Arnage-based Azure is considerably more calm and collected than its wobbly, shuddery predecessor. Modernity includes carbonfibre bracing for the floorpan and pop-up roll-over hoops that, along with the screen surround, can support all 2700kg of it.
For 2007 the time-served 6.75-litre V8 gets lower-inertia turbos for greater low-rev response and, just as significantly, is coupled to a six-speed gearbox rather than the old four-speeder. The ZF-sourced auto features all mod cons, including torque converter lock-up for better throttle response, plus three drive modes, including ‘sport’. This seems at odds with the immaculately tailored and plumply padded interior, which is designed to be admired from the kerb as much as the cockpit, yet the Azure is remarkably composed, direct and hustle-able.
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Sure there’s lots of pitch, but roll is nicely contained, the steering is meatily weighted (but feel-free) and the huge, fat Pirellis only sound like they’re being tortured when, in the interests of science, you really attack a corner. As such, the new gearbox fits in well, summoning more positive response from the lung-squeezingly grunty yet strangely voiced V8 – there’s no heavyweight rumble, just a sound like the speed being changed on a huge fan.
Such pace and dynamic alacrity is unexpected and impressive, and will be welcome if you want to drive the Bentley like you’re evading the paparazzi. Yet I can’t help thinking that the hefty steering in particular is at odds with the Azure’s remit as an effortless cruiser.
|Engine||V8, 6761cc, twin-turbo|
|Max power||450bhp @ 4100rpm|
|Max torque||645lb ft @ 1800rpm|
|Top speed||171mph (claimed)|