According to Bentley, sales in their elevated realm (defined as the Ultra Luxury Segment) are down 20 percent worldwide. In an odd way, this news applied some sense of justice and equality to the woes we normal folks are feeling thanks to the economy's present (and temporary) condition. (Note to self: The saying that rich people always have money isn't always true.)
However, as demonstrated at Bentley's upbeat press conference at the 2008 L.A. Auto Show, it's clear that this economic downturn hasn't dampened the company's plans for launching or its enthusiasm for the 2009 Bentley Azure T. The "T" moniker was first applied to the 1996 Continental, and for these dozen years, it has identified the highest-performance Bentleys.
The new Azure T appropriately follows suit. The four-place convertible has a twin-turbo, 500-hundred horsepower V-8 that the Brits insist on referring to as six and three-quarters liters (instead of 6.75 liters). Every manufacturer is allowed their quirks. The new Bentley rides on 20-inch two-piece aluminum rims that can optionally surround carbon fiber brake rotors. Suspension bits are retuned to give this grandest of tourers a more sporting ride. Interior bits unique to the Azure T include a turned aluminum dash, diamond-patterned seats, and the all-important drilled brake and accelerator pedals. Of course, there's nothing odd about putting weight-saving drilled pedals on a car that weights closer to three tons than two, is there? (That's another one of those Bentley quirks.)
Should one wish to run the enormous car as its development engineers have many times, 0-60 will arrive in just over five seconds and terminal velocity (we assume with the top up) is 179 mph. A hot cup of tea should be enjoyed after such activities.
You're likely aware of the saying, "If you have to ask how much, you can't afford it." Well, we couldn't afford it, so we asked what it would take to purchase one of the 100 Azure Ts scheduled to come to the United States in 2009. Given that a garden-variety Azure R would set one back $334,990, we're estimating that when pricing is released, the T's pricing will be about $22,000 dearer (based on the premium charged for an Arnage T over an R). Rounding up for simplicity sake, figure on $350,000 plus tax and license fees.
Now that you know, you won't have to ask.--Rex Roy
---Make sure you check out our partner sites dedicated to focused news, reviews and more for Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, and the Toyota Prius.