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2022 Bentley Bacalar Review

BODY TYPE: Luxury / Exotic
In the summer of 2019, Bentley showed the world its vision of the future in the form of the stunning EXP 100 GT concept. It was not meant to be seen on the roads anytime soon, but just to be admired as an apparition from a distant future. That’s until the carmaker’s bespoke Mulliner division decided to use it as partial inspiration for one of the most incredible cars of modern days, the Bacalar.
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Shown for the first time at the beginning of March 2020, the Bacalar represents, at least for now, the culmination of car building from a company that likes to say it has been in this business for centuries – Mulliner claims to trace its roots back to a 1500s builder of custom, luxury horse-drawn carriages.

The Bacalar is seen by Bentley itself as the most exclusive and bespoke car made in the modern era, one that also put Mulliner back on the path of coachbuilding. Named after Mexico’s Laguna Bacalar, the car will also be one of the most exclusive ever made by the Brits, with just 12 examples to be hand-built to customer specification.

1Exterior design & features

The design of the Bacalar is like nothing currently available in the Bentley range. That’s not necessarily due only to the overall design, but also to the fact that the model shares no body panels with other Bentleys now being made.

In fact, the only design elements that can be found on other models are the door handles, which have been carried over from the Continental GT because they incorporate the keyless entry system.

The overall shape of the Bacalar is that of a Barchetta, meaning it is an open top with no option of having a roof over one’s head. This shape was chosen because it “delivers the ultimate expression of open-top, driver-focused grand touring.”

Seen as a whole, the car is drawing a lot of inspiration from the EXP 100 GT concept, at least as far as some of the lines and the materials used go. The deck is made of aluminum, the doors and wings come in carbon fiber, and the rear clamshell is also made of aluminum – some of these body parts are made in the traditional way, while others have been created using 3D printing.

Boasting the Bacalar name on the rear panel instead of the usual Bentley badge, the vehicle certainly looks more aggressive than the Conti GT. That’s partly due to the wider rear track (+20 mm), but also the design of the front lights, also inspired by the ones on the EXP 100 GT.

Because this car is not part of a large production run, each of the 12 to be made will be unique, and made to customer specification. As with any such exclusive built, there are countless paint options, exterior treatments and design themes to choose from.

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2Interior design, features
and passenger space

The Barchetta design of the Bacalar means there is no roof to shelter the two occupants from the elements. Then again, this is why this type of vehicle is so sought after in some circles.

Even without the roof though, the driver and passenger – each in their own cocoon, separated by the center console - are protected from the elements (especially wind) by a carefully crafted cabin that surrounds them with the windscreen at the front and the semi-enclosed rear compartment.

The dashboard of the Bacalar is like something rarely seen in modern-day cars. In appears made of two sections, divided by a 3 mm chrome strip. The upper section is made in open pore Riverwood – a supposedly 5,000 years old type of wood coming from somewhere in England – while the lower half is in high-gloss.

The dashboard holds bullseye vents in a design that is mirrored elsewhere inside the car, on the steering wheel, media and climate controls, and on the speaker frets.

As far as materials go, Bentley cut no corners. The D-shaped steering wheel comes in Alcantara, as does the gear shifter, Beluga leather is used combined with wool on the seats, and rice husks bring a touch of metallic to the interior.

When it comes to luggage space, the Bacalar is not of course a vehicle to be taken to your local 7-Eleven. There is only a tiny amount a space behind each seat, and that space has been crafted in such a way as to fit bespoke Schedoni luggage, specially-designed for the Bacalar.

3Gadgets

Just like the rest of the car, the gadgetry that went into the Bacalar has been designed in a unique way, from the digital instruments to the key that starts the engine.

At the center of the infotainment system lies the Bentley Rotating Display that springs into action by revolving out of the Riverwood veneer when the engine is started. It is then when the touchscreen is revealed, a touchscreen that has been designed to “operate like a modern smartphone.”

The screen customer-configurable and shows 3 configurable windows that display things like telephone, media and navigation. The other side of the rotating display reveals three, analog dials that relay information about outside temperature and feature a compass and a chronometer.

4Performance

The heart of the Bacalar monster is Bentley’s iconic W12 with a displacement of 6.0-liter. Linked to an eight-speed transmission, the engine has been tweaked into developing a nice and round 650 bhp of power.

At the time of the car’s reveal, Bentley did not mention any figures to shed some light on the car’s capabilities such as acceleration time or top speed.

5Safety

The Bacalar is an all-wheel-drive car fitted with a system that varies the torque split between front and rear wheels. This capability allows it to be mostly rear-wheel driven during normal operation, a feature that allows maximum efficiency and performance.

Aiding the car in keeping to the road is an adaptive chassis featuring a 48-volt Dynamic Ride System, and air suspension that helps control the ride comfort and lateral roll.

6Conclusion

The Bacalar will be one of the rarest cars on the road. Just 12 of them will ever be made – all of them have already been allocated to customers – and each will be unique. Being mostly a Mulliner creation, the Bacalar is highly customizable, and each will be built by hand in Crewe.

The Bacalar marked Mulliner’s launch of three new projects, a series of cars that will be built as part of one of three lines: Classic, Collection and Coachbuilt.