2007 Bentley Azure

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In early 2006, Bentley will try to beat Rolls-Royce to market with a new ultraluxury convertible. Displayed at the 2005 Los Angeles auto show in concept-car guise, project Panama effectively replaces the Azure coproduced between 1995 and 2003 with Pininfarina. Based on the underpinnings of the Arnage sedan, the conservatively styled but very elegant convertible is roomier than its predecessor. Other improvements include a heated, glass rear window, active rollover protection elements for rear-seat passengers, and a more spacious trunk. The power-operated canvas roof takes twenty-five seconds to open or close. Like the Arnage R, the four-seat droptop is powered by the classic 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-8, which delivers 450 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. Inside, we find full-length armrests, fluted leather trim, and enough wood to see a small family through a cold winter. Although it is still too early to talk about prices, a tick under $300,000 should be a good estimate. Too expensive? Then stand by for the Continental GT drophead, which should go on sale in late 2006 for about $175,000.

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