2002 Bentley Azure Mulliner kindly provided for testing, and for sale through Gilmour Collection.

In the early 2000’s Audi started an ad campaign war by posting a picture of their new A4 with the slogan – “Your move BMW…” on a massive billboard. BMW responded in kind with a picture of their new E92 M3 with the words “Check Mate”. What followed was months of BMW and Audi releasing ads, taking swings at each other. BMW would post a picture of the 3-series with a message of congratulations to Audi for winning South African Car of the Year. They signed the message, “from the winners of WORLD car of the year”. Audi would respond with remarks about their Le Mans successes. Even Subaru eventually joined the fight flaunting their Engine of the Year award.


This ad war continued for some time and in fact led to changes in legislation that would prevent companies from directly mentioning their competition in their advertising materials. The law was a little too slow to stop the war though. The ad war was actually ended by Bentley. So what brilliant wit did they come up with to end this lengthy fight? Some interesting fact about their car that makes them better? Perhaps a mention of their racing pedigree or hand-built craftsmanship?

Nope. Bentley simply posted a picture of their CEO, wearing an expensive black suit, sitting in a beautiful, dark leather chesterfield sticking up his middle finger with the Bentley logo at the bottom of the frame.

Bentley claim that they never sanctioned the ad

To this day Bentley claim that they never sanctioned the ad. However, it circulated the internet so quickly, one has to wonder if it wasn’t orchestrated. Either way, I think the ad is absolutely on-point. It absolutely fits with Bentley’s character.

Take this stunning British racing green Bentley Azure for example. From its truly massive size to the sheer number of switches, buttons and gauges on the dash. This is a car that refuses to conform. This is a car that is so over-built and well-crafted, it leaves you in awe. A car built with passion, dedication, craftsmanship – and, I suspect, the accountants tied up and gagged in a cupboard. No expense was spared.

Bentley started with their Continental R saloon and took 2 years, with the help of Pininfarina, to redesign their 4-door saloon into a 4-seater, 2-door convertible. The body shells were then made by Pininfarina, as was the roof, and all was shipped to Crewe for final assembly.

the six and three quarter (note NOT 6.75) litre V8

Power came from the old company stalwart, the six and three quarter (note NOT 6.75) litre V8 with a single Garrett Turbo. This low revving torque monster delivers its shove through a 4-speed automatic gearbox sourced from GM.

Bentley Badge

Brakes and suspension were a little unique in that they were based on a mineral oil-filled hydraulic system. The suspension is certainly effective, especially given the weight of this car, but the brakes do take a little getting used to.

They are very good at stopping the huge Bentley, but they don’t feel like any conventional braking system I’ve ever used. When you apply pressure to the pedal slowly, it’s almost as if there is a slight delay before they actually take effect. When you release the pedal, again, there is a slight delay before the brakes release and allow the car to roll. Stomp on them, and they will bring the car to a halt very briskly though!

The interiors are nothing short of a work of art. Each car’s leather work is done from start to finish by a single craftsman to ensure consistency throughout the interior. The same rules are followed for the beautiful wood inlays. The carpets are such thick lamb’s wool, you could easily lose a lesser car in the pile and never notice it.

Bentley Boot XRay

the Bentley Azure was built with a no-expense-spared approach

So the Bentley Azure was built with a no-expense-spared approach. They took a hand made body from one of the most famous Italian design houses. The best, proven and tested drivetrain they could access was installed. The body and drivetrain were suspended and stopped by unique technology that no other manufacturer, other than Rolls-Royce, was using. Then they filled the interior with more leather and wood than a 1970’s cigar room at a gentleman’s club.

This particular car goes even further though! Offered as an expensive option was the Mulliner package. Think of it as Bentley’s “Individual” range. Everything about this car could be customised by the original owner. Thankfully the owner of this car understood the character of the car perfectly. He gave this Bentley beautiful green paint, and a stunning cream/tan shade of leather for the seats. This is then complimented by burgundy leather piping, dashboard detailing and of course the carpets. It makes a very individual statement.

Like the picture of the chairman sticking his middle finger up at the world. The Bentley Azure in Mulliner specification simply shouts to the world – “This is me, I have nothing to prove to anyone, so deal with it.” And I love that!

cruises with effortless aplomb

With all of that said, it’s almost impossible to imagine what a machine like this would be like to drive. Obviously this is not a sportscar, and the Azure is never going to win any prizes for its dynamic abilities. What it does do superbly though, is cruise with the kind of effortless aplomb that can ONLY come from a large displacement, low revving engine. Power delivery is unlike most modern cars that rely on their turbos or revs – in stead you get these big lazy yawns of torque that simply surge you forward. No loud noises, no jerking around or snapping back of your neck. Like a giant hand against your back gently shoving you forwards.


As you waft along the road you genuinely get a feeling of freedom. Drive a BMW down the street and you can feel people hating you. In the Bentley, they might still hate you, but you just don’t care what other people think. You’re far too busy appreciating the incredible attention to detail and craftsmanship. Simple things like the exquisite stainless steel air vents and the little stalks that open and close them. And the way those little stalks operate with just the perfect amount of resistance and absolute smoothness. Or the fact that the doors have 2 door handles each so that rear passengers can also open the doors from the back seat. Let’s not forget the colour matching, Bentley branded umbrellas in the boot either.

The Bentley is the alpha dog

The Bentley isolates you from other traffic in a way that no other car will. It is so special that it actually sets you apart. It oozes pride and sophistication in equal measure. The Bentley makes no apologies, it is the alpha dog simply because it claims that spot and, without being aloof, puts you on a higher pedestal.

Most of my reviews are about what a car feels like to drive, but with the Bentley, it’s more about how driving the car makes you feel. In short, it feels amazing.