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By Michael Harley

Posted Aug 19th 2012 8:01PM

The arrival of the all-new flagship Bentley Mulsanne sedan in 2010 (for the 2011 model year) marked the departure of the range-topping Azure convertible, leaving the Continental GTC range as the automaker's only open-roof models.

Bentley's big convertible program took a huge leap forward this past weekend at Pebble Beach when the automaker allowed a select few to view its Mulsanne Vision Concept, a possible successor to the discontinued Azure. Unfortunately, Bentley refused to allow photography and will not be releasing pictures – only the sketch above, and those in our gallery, are offered for your consumption.

On the positive side, Autoblog did see the four-place convertible in the flesh and we found it every bit as spectacular as the sketches. The Mulsanne-based concept features a steeply raked windshield, a chopped wheelbase (about six inches shorter) and two lengthened doors to bring all the proportions in properly (the inside panels of the doors have two latches on each interior panel, so rear seat passengers may open them from the inside as well). In addition to the sharp hydroformed aluminum panels, there are LED accent lights on the top of the rear decklid. The interior seats four passengers comfortably, with a sea of soft leather, polished stainless steel and signature wood.

Even though Bentley says its designers are "providing a glimpse into the potential future of the marque's flagship family," we say the Vision concept is much closer to production than they would lead us to believe. Its power-operated roof mechanism (seemingly lifted from the Azure) worked flawlessly, as did all switchgear (including the unique interior door handles) and lights. We expect Bentley will reveal its newest star at an auto show in the very near future.
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