Today, I present to you the 2007 Bentley Azure. When this thing was new, back in 2007, it cost something like $340,000 with shipping and options. Today, a decade later, it’s offered for sale by Exclusive Automotive Group — the Bentley dealership in the Washington, D.C. area — for around $100,000. Factor inflation into its original price and this car has lost over $300,000 in value in a decade.
More than $300,000 in 10 years. If the depreciation curve was linear, which of course it isn’t, that’d be about $2,800 a month — gone, vanished, POOF! — every month for a decade. It loses more than $3 an hour, even when you’re asleep, and it’s tucked inside your garage, under a soft cover, making no noise except the giant sucking sound of massive depreciation.
So I recently decided I had to find out what it’s like to drive around in the most opulent, massive, crazy, ridiculous luxury convertible of 2007, aside from the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe — a car that originally cost as much as a decent home in most places and now costs as much as a nice Mercedes-Benz. And so I did.
Here’s my initial impression: It’s massive. At 212 inches in length, the Azure is longer than a Chevy Tahoe, which is a full-size SUV with five big doors and eight seats and the capacity to tow a boat so big it might have a stupid pun boat name, such as Pier Pressure. And yet the Azure only has two doors, and relatively small back seats. It’s just a massive, rolling monument to opulence; a huge vehicle that basically says, "No, I don’t need to carry anyone around, but I want to take up as much space as a full-size SUV, and I want to spend as much as a house, because I can."
On the road, the Azure is, of course, delightful to ride around in. It’s massively heavy, and massively huge, and it insulates you from the road like you’ve just stepped into a store that sells luxury goods, and everything is quiet, and serene, and there’s music playing, and they have a greeter at the door to make sure nobody walks in who also shops at Sam’s Club. It isn’t perfect, however — the fact that it’s a convertible means it lets in just a little more noise than the Bentley Mulsanne or a Maybach — but it’s pretty close.
The ride comfort is also close to perfect. Bentley and Rolls-Royce models do this thing with their suspension where they bump up and down a few times after going over a major road imperfection. The result is that you’re still settling a few seconds after you go over the imperfection, whereas in a regular car, you’re back to normal right away. But the benefit is that you never feel the imperfection in its fullest form; the shock of any major bump or pothole seems to be spread out over various movements, so it’s never really all that shocking.
Acceleration and handling, on the other hand, are merely acceptable. Handling is better than you’d expect; the steering is light, of course, and is so absurdly over-assisted that it requires virtually no work to turn the wheel in any direction. But body roll is well-controlled, and the car goes where you put it — better than you’d expect. Acceleration, too, is better than you’d expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s great. My favorite thing about the acceleration is how dull the transmission is: You floor it, and the engine — which is a turbocharged V8 with a not-insignificant 450 horsepower — roars to life, shooting you forward, until it’s time to shift, at which point the transmission shows up to curtail your fun like an angry mother who’s just admonished her kids for horsing around. It’s tuned for the slowest — but smoothest — possible shift, adding comfort but harming acceleration.
Of course, the main selling point for this car is twofold: quality and exclusivity. It has quality down, with a tremendously relaxed, luxurious ride, and a high-end interior with all the wood you’d expect from a luxury car, or possibly a forest. Exclusivity, too, is up there: People buy Bentley sedans, sure, but to spend more than the cost of a Flying Spur on a car that’s decidedly less practical … that takes some guts. I spend time in a lot of cool-car hotspots, and I haven’t seen an Azure on the road in over a year.
So is the Bentley Azure worth over $400,000, its new price adjusted for inflation? At that figure, it’s a tough sell. Is it worth $100,000? To the right buyer, who’s sampled everything else, who just wants a flamboyant, ultra-luxury cruiser… little else will do. Find a 2007 Bentley Azure for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.