Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

New Bentley on the block: Why the Bacalar is the car maker's most exclusive model of the modern day

The UK-based car manufacturer has pulled the covers off its latest creation, but you'll be lucky to even see one, let alone get behind the wheel

While Bentley has joined a slew of car manufacturers in suspending operations at its factory, production of its latest creation, the uber exclusive Mulliner Bacalar, will likely remain unaffected, since only 12 of the vehicles will be built, with delivery not due until 2021. “We’re trying to minimise disruption to our customers as much as possible. The first Bacalar isn’t due to go its owner until early next year,” a Bentley spokesperson says two-seater Mulliner Bacalar is the most exclusive and bespoke vehicle that the company has produced in the modern era, it claims.

The new model, revealed to the world from the brand’s headquarters in Crewe, in the north of England, is a distinct speedster of the most superior kind, based on the manufacturer’s EXP 100 GT concept vehicle.

However, no matter how big your bank balance, if you haven’t already put an order in, you won’t get one of the few that will come off the production line, freshly hand-built by the company’s team of engineers and artisans. Each of the 12 Bacalars has already been bought and no doubt allocated in advance suitably favoured spots in garages across the world.

The Bacalar, whose name comes from a particularly blue lagoon in Mexico, marks the luxury carmaker’s return to what is known as coach-building, which, in layman’s terms, indicates cars created with specific input from customers. Each of the 12 vehicles will, therefore, be unique.

Performance-wise, we can talk about the power and speed of the Bacalar, of course – it has a turbocharged 6-litre engine that will produce 650 BHP – but that isn’t why you’d buy a car of this sort. All that harnessed energy is part of the appeal, of course, but concepts such as beauty, exclusivity and the kind of comfort you’d only find being cossetted in an upright memory foam mattress, are what really matters.

Stefan Sielaff is Bentley’s director of design, and the man most responsible for the look and feel of the Bacalar (prior to any of the aforementioned customisation, of course). He is German, but an unashamed Aanglophile, having studied his craft at the Royal College of Art in London.

The Bacalar takes a corner at night.
The Bacalar takes a corner at night.

The Bacalar, he says, is the first release in a new strategy for Bentley, that will see the manufacturer focus on producing low-volume, coach-built cars, as well as the customisation of its core models. And, Sielaff says, despite its apparent modernity, the Bacalar takes many cues from Bentley’s classic models. “You can clearly see echoes of the EXP 100 GT in the Bacalar, as well as the influence of the past,” he says.“Bentley has a rich history of open-cockpit cars – the design of the Birkin Blower Bentley of the late 1920s was also an inspiration,” he adds. However, Sielaff had a remit to push the boundaries as far as possible with the Bacalar.

The Bacalar takes many cues from Bentley’s classic models

“Customers were asking what Bentley’s take on a more expressive-looking car at this price point would look like,” he says. “We were also tasked with starting to deliver on Bentley’s promise to use sustainable materials. Within less than a year of revealing our future-focused concept, we have already delivered on this promise.

That ethical sustainability point is something Bentley is keen to underline, which is no surprise given the mood of much of the world with regard to such matters. As an example, the paint is made of rice husks, which probably wouldn’t have been an option any luxury car manufacturer would have considered in days of yore.

”That ethical sustainability point is something that the brand is keen to underline, which is no surprise given the mood of much of the world with regard to such matters. As an example, the paint is made of rice husks, which probably wouldn’t have been an option any luxury car manufacturer would have considered in days of yore.

Usually, at this point in an article of this sort, you might talk about when the car is available and how much it is likely to cost. Well, as we’ve ascertained, only a dozen people on the planet will get one. And the price? About Dh8.7 million, estimates suggest. No real surprises there, of course. We all like something chic and unique, but, in a Bentley Mulliner Bacalar, it was never going to be a budget option.

Updated: April 9, 2020 05:01 PM

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