Bentley Azure Line Proves Even Bentleys Can Get Nicer (and More Expensive)
Finally, a nice Bentley.
Bentley's never been short on opulence but there's a pecking order to uphold when it comes to ultra-luxury machines. Its new Azure range should be proof. The lineup of Azure-branded Bentleys announced Tuesday prioritizes new features to cosset the driver and passengers as they travel great distances in their new Bentley. Wonderful.
Bentley doesn't have a monopoly on one-upmanship among luxury automakers either. Luxury carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz have recently said they'll steer toward pricier models going forward. More expensive, more exclusive, more excess—more, more, more.
Back to Bentley. The menu of creature comforts included in the Azure variants will be available across the Bentley lineup. The Bentayga, Flying Spur, and Continental GT will all offer the new Azure spec, including convertible and long-wheelbase models. In contrast to the Bentley Speed models, which focus primarily on performance, the Azure designation puts comfort as its top priority. It's unclear how much the Azure specification will cost on those models but it's not likely to be cheap.
Bentley says they consulted creative neuroscientist Katherine Templar-Lewis to help guide the development of Azure-specific features toward reducing driver stress and fatigue. Templar-Lewis' contribution drove the "wellbeing behind the wheel" concepts and guided the team to consider the interior lighting, thermal comfort systems, and driver and passenger posture.
Research showed that ride comfort and noise, vibration, and harshness were important factors for relaxing in a vehicle. Bentley says studies indicate that people exposed to excessive road noise over 70 decibels were 65% more at risk of depression.
Bentley's long-wheelbase Bentayga can help. According to the automaker, the big Bentayga is 4 to 26% quieter than competitor SUVs, a notable improvement in a segment already full of comfortable, quiet vehicles. The Bentayga similarly scored well when it came to vibrations, showing up to 27% less secondary road vibration than competitors. Your move, Rolls-Royce.
Color and texture were a similar focus for the team behind the new Azure models. "When we see pleasing forms, shapes and colors our brains release chemicals such as dopamine that not only make us feel good but are good for our body and sense of wellbeing," says Bentley Head of Colour and Trim Maria Mulder. "Every fabric, sound, motion, color and touch continuously impacts our nervous system and the Azure cabin has been finessed accordingly.”
The Azure trim thus relies on something called "wellness quilting," where the upholstery is given complex fractal patterns to invite touch and create a pleasant look for the eye. Even the selections of wood have been carefully chosen to "encourage calm," with the Azure cabin specifically featuring open-pore Walnut and Koa veneers for this very purpose.
Oh, and worry not. There'll be plenty of badging to let everyone know you sprung for the Azure trim.
Naturally, the other comfort features you'd expect from a top-tier luxury SUV or sedan haven't been forgotten. There are 22-way adjustable heated and cooled seats, complete with massage modes. And, of course, a complex active anti-roll system helps smother imperfections in the road—Aspen's are notoriously fussy after all. Rear seats even get special attention to optimizing passenger posture and comfort, with their own temperature control systems and the ability to recline up to 40 degrees. There's even a footrest in the back of the front passenger seat when the chauffeur takes over.
The focus on luxury and comfort comes as no surprise; that's what Bentley should do. The company is even pushing for greater weight limits so its fanciest cars can get even more luxurious and over-stuffed. Expect that to become more of a pain point for the company in the future as it transitions toward electric cars.
It's likely that the new Azure models will be cushier, more comfortable, and restful than other Bentleys that have come before. Similarly, they may also measure up well against the competition. But it bears noting that Bentley's cars were already pretty darn comfortable, so it may take quite a refined touch to determine the difference.
Even if you don't like the changes though, you're sure to be fine. Anyone with the money for a new Bentley probably has their own physical therapist on speed dial anyway. A nice caffeinated green tea smoothie and a hot Swedish massage upon arriving at one's destination probably go just as far to refreshing oneself as a 3% improvement in seat comfort does anyway.
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