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2021 Bentley Bacalar first drive review: A $1.9M standout

2021 Bentley Bacalar first drive review: A $1.9M standout

The Car Zero is Bentley’s development prototype.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

There are dozens of Bentleys running around the Monterey Peninsula during Car Week, but there’s only one Bacalar. It’s a $1.9 million beaut handbuilt by Bentley Mulliner and only 12 will be made. Even by Pebble Beach terms, that’s exceptionally rare.

This specific Bacalar isn’t one of those 12. It’s Bentley’s development prototype — Car Zero — and was originally painted white before donning this awesome Scarab Green hue. This car has seen some seriously hard miles, from internal testing to journalist abuse, and it’s spent long hours inside shipping containers traveling around the world. But cruising down 17 Mile Drive on the Pacific coast, you’d never know. The Bentley Bacalar feels as unflappable as any other Continental GT, and in a number of ways, it’s actually better.

To recap: The Bacalar shares its platform and underpinnings with the Bentley Continental GT, but all of its body panels are bespoke. The body is made from a mix of carbon fiber and aluminum and the extended rear haunches mean the Bacalar has a 20-millimeter wider track than a Conti GT. The design isn’t for everyone, but man, I totally dig it. Half aggro, half svelte — the Bacalar just looks so damn cool.

Under the hood you’ll find a tuned version of Bentley’s 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine, delivering a healthy 650 horsepower and 667 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission sends power to all four wheels, and the Bacalar uses adaptive dampers and Bentley’s 48-volt active antiroll tech to make sure it’s as comfortable as it is stable, whether cruising or cornering.

Scenic as 17 Mile Drive is, it’s not exactly a thrilling place to drive during Monterey Car Week. Sure, the view is beautiful, and it’s hard to complain about being stuck in traffic when the cars around you include 100-year-old stunners and exotic supercars. Still, take a turn too fast and rich old golfers in bad pants will shout obscenities. Goes without saying, but the cops are on high alert, too.

More cars need wool trim.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

But even driven conservatively, the Bacalar feels special. I love the way my hands grip the thick-rimmed steering wheel and how effortlessly and progressively this car builds speed. A sport exhaust gives the Bacalar a bassy undertone that happily revs up to a proper growl — and thank goodness, because without amplification, Bentley’s W12 models sound pretty lame. The 22-inch wheels look awesome and their low-profile tires don’t kill the ride quality, whether I’m driving in the default Bentley mode or stiffening up the dampers in Sport. Oh, and despite this car’s hard life, there isn’t a creak or rattle to be heard — a nod to Mulliner’s impressive coachbuilding.

Along those lines, while the Bacalar’s interior doesn’t stray much from a standard Continental GT, the real beauty is in the details. The knurled surfaces use a different design than other Bentleys, and the dark bronze and black titanium finishes look great. The thicker steering wheel has Alcantara trim, as does the gear selector on the center console. 5,000-year-old riverwood makes up the wraparound dashboard and the gray wool cloth trim that accents the cabin is one of the best interior flourishes I’ve ever seen. (More cars need this, stat.)

Like a Continental GT, the Bacalar is hella comfortable, and you get the same digital gauge cluster and Bentley’s rotating infotainment display. The Bacalar is a two-seater, there’s no convertible top and it ditches rear accommodations in favor of a specially designed storage compartment. I mean, where else are you going to put your matching tailor-made luggage? Just hope it doesn’t rain.

Total boss.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Bentley says its customers can pretty much go wild with the Bacalar as far as colors and materials are concerned, and happily, I’m told no two cars will be the same. In fact, Bentley says the Bacalar buyers actually embraced the added level of personalization available through the Mulliner department. All the orders are submitted, and even the most subdued spec still has a cool accent or two.

You’ll see the first of the 12 Bacalars soon and the subsequent 11 will be delivered over the next several months. Bentley won’t tell me who bought them, of course. Fingers crossed that the Car Zero won’t be the only one that makes its way to Monterey.

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