Limited run W12 swansong previews EV design direction – and yes, every single one is sold already…
By Matt Bird / Sunday, 21 August 2022 / Loading comments
Things are good for Bentley right now. 2022 is already looking better in terms of orders and revenue than 2021 (which was a record year), and that’s despite a lockdown-induced slowdown in China. Demand for personalisation is increasing exponentially, the Mulliner specials – the Blower Continuation and Bacalar – both sold out and the GT Speed is the best driving Bentley in yonks. What to do with all that and Bentley’s looming electrification? A £1.65m, limited-run love letter to the W12, of course – otherwise known as the Batur.
Outside of the car world, the Batur is an 88m deep Balinese crater lake, following the ‘beautiful natural body of water’ naming strategy of the Bacalar (which is a lake in Mexico). For Bentley, the Batur is a new Mulliner project of which just 18 will be built; not only is it the most powerful Bentley ever made (more on that in a sec), it is tasked with showcasing ‘a new design DNA that will ultimately guide the design of Bentley’s future range of BEVs.’ So not just a billionaire’s plaything then, even if it looks like being a great one of those.
Bentley’s Director of Design Andreas Mindt (also responsible for the Audi e-tron GT in a previous life) has stated three key principles that guided the Batur design. The first is the ‘resting beast stance’, that the car should look fast when stationary, and is said to be incorporated here with the reprofiled haunches and new Bentley power line that runs all the way from the boot to design principle number two, the endless bonnet. That power line is intended to link Batur bonnet to body – “making the car long and lean and giving an elongated proportion to the front end”, according to Mindt. This then draws attention to the new grille; along with the slimmer lights, these are probably the biggest clues as to what a EV might look like, as well as differentiating the Batur from the Bentley it’s based on. It’s lower and more upright than standard – ‘upright elegance’ is the third principle – which is done for more confidence. Those new tail lights look a shoo-in for a future production Bentley as well.
Having had a nose around the Batur ahead of the Monterey reveal, it’s undoubtedly a more dramatic big Bentley than the production GT we’re used to. And there are some really lovely details, the new grille and lights in particular. The stance has more punch, too, definitely drawing the eye more to the rear wheels. But it never insisted on a gawp like a £2m car (the £1.65m is before tax and options) probably ought to; maybe it’ll pop in the Californian sunshine, and maybe we’re just heathens with no eye for good design (more than likely), but that’s the verdict for now.
Bentley hasn’t yet confirmed a power output for the Batur, only revealing that the 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 will make more than 740hp – remember the GT Speed makes just the 659. It’ll have 738lb ft, too, meaning this must be a 200mph car. The power uptick has been achieved through new turbos and intercoolers plus recalibration, showing there’s still some life in the old dog just yet. ‘Before its retirement, this engineering masterpiece is worth of commendation, and the Batur is the perfect home for the ultimate development of W12 performance’, says Bentley. The engine breathes out of a titanium exhaust, with 3D-printed tips for the first time.
This is exciting enough on its own, but Bentley has kitted the Batur out with lots of the good stuff that made the GT Speed so entertaining as well. That means electric active anti-roll, a torque vectoring limited-slip diff and giant ceramic discs (440mm up front) although there’s no mention at the moment of the all-wheel steer that so transformed the Speed. Those new wheels are 22-inch diameter, in Satin Titanium to match the grille, with Pirelli tyres.
Will Batur customers especially care about the drive? Probably not. The stunningly overhauled interior – with 18 karat gold for the drive selector, a laser etched sound wave of the engine on the dash and embroidered ‘Batur chevrons’ – will surely be of more interest. Bentley describes it as nothing less than ‘a cabin of sustainable bespoke beauty’, which feels slightly at odds with what’s under the bonnet, but is interesting nonetheless. There’s leather from Scotland available, for example, which won’t have to travel as far as the other leather from Italy (though that is sustainable tannage hide); a Natural Fibre composite veneer is new for Bentley as an alternative to carbon fibre as well and the carpet is made from recycled yarn – another first. Naturally, the 18 customers can have a Batur trimmed in whatever material they wish, though like the outside this interior probably hints at a few things coming up for the electric Bentleys. And if that means more cabins trimmed in black, red or orange – or Beluga, Hotspur and Hyperactive, to be Bentley specific – then we’re all for it.
Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said of the Batur: “The Batur is a significant car for Bentley. Far more than the heir to the highly successful Bacalar, the Batur showcases the design direction that we’re taking in the future as we develop our range of BEVs… “The Batur is the next step in Mulliner’s expansion, demonstrating the demand for truly bespoke vehicles that combine luxury and performance in ways that only Bentley can deliver.” The big engine certainly doesn’t have long left, then, but it seems like Mulliner builds are going from strength, which surely means more specials like this into Bentley’s EV era. Those 18 lucky Batur customers are set to receive their cars from the middle of next year.
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