Bentley took the limited-edition Bacalar from a sketch to a 200-plus-mph roadster in nine months, a shockingly short amount of time. Its engineers are now putting the first car through its paces at the same break-neck speed.
Although the Bacalar is based on the Continental GT, the British firm explained nearly everything the driver will see and feel is specific to the car. Bentley developed over 750 new parts for it, including 40 built with carbon fiber, and the roadster shares no body panels with other members of the company’s range. All of these components have to meet the same stringent quality standards as those created for regular-production models.
Bentley gave its team 20 weeks to fine-tune the first prototype (pictured), which it calls car zero. Testing started earlier in 2020, so the car has already been put through a wind tunnel and pushed to the limit at triple-digit speeds — it’s as stable and quiet as customers expect. Next, test drivers will pile on the miles to see how it holds up over time. They’ll then test it at up to 176 degrees, and the final step will be validating the electrical system.
Power for the Bacalar comes from a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine, which produces 650 horsepower and 667 pound-feet of torque. It spins the four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Bentley hasn’t revealed what it will do with car zero at the end of the testing phase. Production is scheduled to start in 2021, and the 12 examples planned have already been spoken for. Each one will be unique; buyers will be invited to work directly with the company’s design department to configure the interior and the exterior.