The Azure convertible has a power top that stows beneath a hard cover behind the seats. The Azure and Continental R both weigh about 5,400 pounds and measure 210 inches long. Both use a turbocharged, 400-hp, 6.75-liter V-8 engine that teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Bentley also offers higher-performance Mulliner versions of both the Continental R and Azure and continues to list a shorter-wheelbase Continental T coupe with a lowered suspension. Each of those models is fitted with a 420-hp version of the 6.75-liter V-8.
Like Rolls-Royce, Bentley has long been known for producing sumptuous sedans, in which the owner rides in back while a chauffeur does the driving. But the top-end British company also builds cars that are intended to be driven, by those who are more sport-minded.
For the time being, Bentley and Rolls-Royce retain their original ownership, and production continues in Crewe, England. But this will change on Jan. 1, 2003, when Volkswagen assumes ownership of Bentley and BMW takes over the management of Rolls-Royce. Until then, the companys current owners will produce, sell and service both marques worldwide.
Both the coupe and convertible are 210.8 inches long and share the same design as the Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. The coupe and convertible are a few inches longer than the Cadillac DeVille and 5 inches shorter than the Lincoln Town Car. Both body styles are 74 inches wide (across the wheel arches) and stand 57.6 inches tall.
Up front on both models is the stately, stainless steel Bentley grille. Mulliner versions feature 18-inch wheels and tires vs. the 17-inchers found on the regular models. Mulliner coupes and convertibles also have wheel-arch flares, front air dams and a wire-mesh grille. The Azures power convertible top stows beneath a flush-fitting panel behind the rear seats.
All two-door Bentley models seat four occupants in a truly posh environment. Body-hugging sport seats are upholstered in two-tone leather. Buyers can choose from several types of interior wood trim. Power front seats move forward automatically when the backrest is tilted, which allows easier entry and exit to and from the rear seats. Seats have four memory positions.
Under the Hood
A turbocharged, 6.75-liter Bentley V-8 engine powers all two-door models and teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The V-8 in the Continental R and Azure makes 400 hp and a whopping 616 pounds-feet of torque, while the Mulliner editions pack a 420-hp version of that power plant.
Bentley claims the Continental R and Azure can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and can reach a top speed of about 150 mph. The higher-performance Mulliner editions can move even faster. All two-door Bentley models have antilock brakes, traction control and automatic ride control, as well as pretensioners on the front seat belts.