Bentley’s roofless Bacalar references the EXP 100 GT concept of 2019
The car looks like a convertible but is, as Bentley puts it, a “Barchetta” design. Which means in this case, no roof at all. Italians may not be thrilled with appropriation of the term, especially as a “barchetta” connotes a stripped-down car with minimal windscreen and appointments; the focus is all on the driving. But Bentley is correct in that the term barchetta is now often used for roofless cars of all types, even luxury sunny-day tourers.
Although it sits on a Continental GT chassis, Bentley claims the Bacalar shares no body panels with its production cars except the door handle which contains the tech for the keyless entry system. A look over the car shows the clear influence of the EXP 100 GT concept, revealed by Bentley last summer.
“Stefan Sielaff, Bentley’s Director of Design recently commented, “You can clearly see echoes of the EXP 100 GT in the Bacalar, as well as the influence of the past. Bentley has a rich history of open-cockpit cars- the design of the Birkin blower Bentley of the late 1920s was also an inspiration. We needed to push the boundaries as far as possible – customers were asking what Bentley’s take on a more expressive -looking car at this price point would look like. “
At the interior, the lucky two occupants enjoy good weather touring in what Bentley terms a “wraparound cockpit”, with luxurious controls and appointments wrapping around the driver and passenger, starting at the steeply raked center console, and around the IP and back across the door panels. Every control and instrument are within easy sight and reach. The instruments are a mix of analog and digital, and digital in the shape of analog. There is a rotating touchscreen on the dash that has a different set of controls on each panel.
The interior finishes are a mix of metals, woods, leather and wool. Sustainable products and processes, requested by Bentley customers, are used wherever possible. The wood on the dash, for instance, is Riverwood, a wood from fallen trees that had been buried in the East Anglia Fenlands for millennia, and has been exhumed and slow kiln-dried to produce a wood that is strong and a rich ebony in colour. Other materials such as the wool used in the seats are locally sourced wherever possible and hand-stitched.
Sielaff wishes the Bentleys of the future to be a mixture of the hand-crafted and the digital, as well as a mixture of the locally sourced, crafted materials, and sleek high-tech materials. A mixture of old-world and futuristic.
Naturally a car at this price point will have some bespoke extras, and a set of Schedoni fitted luggage that slots into the cavities behind the seats fits the bill nicely. Bentley also takes pains to assure customers that almost every element in the interior and most in the exterior can be customized to personal preferences and specifications.
Under the bonnet, the Bacalar has an enhanced 6.0 litre V-12 TSI engine producing 650 bhp (659PS) and 667 lb.ft. (900Nm) of torque. An advanced Active All-Wheel Drive System keeps all this power on the road, varying the torque split between the front and rear wheels, although rear wheel drive is the predominant driving configuration.
An eight-speed dual- clutch transmission allows for faster more efficient gear changes and an adaptive chassis that uses Bentley’s 48-volt powered Dynamic Ride System assures a smooth touring experience.
The Bacalar series will be built by Bentley’s coachwork division Mulliner, which has a centuries-old tradition of coachbuilding and a peerless reputation. Early bespoke automotive classics by milliner can be still at Concours events from time-to-time. The Bacalar is seen a revival of sorts for the Mulliner sub-brand and will allow Bentley to complement fellow Volkswagen premium brands like Bugatti and Lamborghini and their ultra-exclusive limited editions.
The Bacalar launches Mulliner’s three-part mission to bring Bentley back into the realm of coachbuilding. The Classic branch will reissue twelve 1929 Bentley Blower cars, the Collections division will bring more luxurious versions of production cars, and finally, the Coachbuilt portfolio, of which the Bacalar is a part, will produce a series of bespoke cars that take personalization all the way into the realm of unique design, including special paints and finishes, interior appointments and other personalized touches. These cars will be explorations of the potential for Bentley’s design language to flex and express itself in new ways.
Obviously, we had hoped to get up close and personal with the Bacalar in Geneva, but alas, that is not possible. But we will have a more in-depth review of the Bentley Bacalar in the near future.
Stay with us for that report.