Laguna Bacalar in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is a lake known for its breath-taking natural beauty. Bentayga is a natural rock pinnacle on the island of Gran Canaria. What is the connection between them? Well, both are Bentleys. The latter is now popular among us as an iconic luxury SUV while the Bacalar is still in the making. Bacalar Car Zero is where its history begins.
The Bacalar is the first member of the Bentley Mulliner Coachbuilt portfolio, as Bentley Mulliner returns to coachbuilding. Bacalar Car Zero is the purpose-built engineering prototype is the first barchetta-style Bentley of the modern era. Before building the 12 pre-sold customer cars next year, the prototype is being tested and developed at a variety of locations around Europe.
How is the testing coming up?
So far, the car has completed wind tunnel-based aerodynamic assessment, high speed stability and top speed testing, handling and dynamics evaluations, appraisal of noise and vibration, and careful thermal measurements. The car now enters a period of ongoing customer-focused mileage accumulation and durability work, before a phase of climate cycle testing up to 80 °C and an intensive electrical system validation. All of this work is important to sign-off the new and bespoke nature of the Bacalar – the car includes a total of more than 750 new components including more than 40 crafted in carbon fibre, while nearly 100 are made using rapid additive manufacture techniques. All of them have to pass Bentley’s exceptionally stringent quality, functionality and durability standards.
Bentley’s Director of Mulliner, Paul Williams, comments: “The Bacalar is a thoroughly modern iteration of the coachbuilt Bentleys of the past – extremely rare, entirely hand-crafted, totally bespoke to each customer and exquisite in its details. The whole team behind the car is thrilled to see the prototype shrugging off every test we throw at it, and we’re really looking forward to starting the build of the 12 customer cars.” A roofless Barchetta design with all-new and highly muscular coachwork, embracing a myriad of options and materials, each Bacalar will be truly unique, the result of direct interaction between the Bentley Mulliner design team and the individual customer. The Bacalar is the first – but other new bespoke Bentleys will follow as part of the Bentley Mulliner Coachbuilt portfolio
Very special materials and a powerful core
The Bacalar draws on design DNA and materials inspiration from the beautifully sculpted, award-winning EXP 100 GT which was crowned ‘Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year’ at the prestigious French Festival Automobile International. Materials include paint containing ash from rice husks, which provides a sustainable way of delivering a rich metallic finish, natural British wool and 5,000-year-old Riverwood sourced from the ancient Fenlands of East Anglia. The Bacalar shares no body panel with any other car in the Bentley model line-up, except one exterior component with a Continental GT – the door handle, simply because it contains the keyless entry system.
The rear clamshell, wings and top deck of the Bacalar are crafted from carbon fibre, while the doors are lightweight aluminium. Combined with the use of three-dimensional printing, it has allowed designers to create an even more distinctive car.
The Bacalar is driven by an enhanced version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre, W12 TSI engine that produces 659 PS (650 bhp) and 900 Nm (667 lb.ft) of torque. An advanced Active All-Wheel-Drive System varies the torque split between front and rear wheels. The top speed run has confirmed the Vmax above 200 mph (322 km/h)
The new Bentley Mulliner Bacalar is a genuine ‘roofless’ Barchetta – a luxury, two-seat, open-air performance car, the likes of which have never been seen before. Handcrafted to the individual customer’s personal tastes, Bacalar is the ultimate expression of an open-top Grand Tourer: a spirited GT combining traditional handcrafted techniques with the latest cutting-edge technology.