There was a slight drizzle when I was getting ready to go for a short drive in Bentley’s new Bacalar. Ordinarily, this would not be a big deal. The rain was hardly enough to warrant an umbrella. Except the Bentley Bacalar has no roof.
The Bacalar is not a convertible. It really has no roof, not even a folding top. If owners can’t drive their Bacalar in the rain, that’s a small matter. You can be assured, people who can afford to buy this $2 million car have other ones they can get wet. The lack of a roof gave Bentley designers a sort of freedom they rarely get when having to figure out where to hide a folded top and put unsightly latching mechanisms.
“When you don’t have a roof, you can make the flow of the cabin go into the contour of the exterior. So this car is very much about the design language,” said Bentley spokesman Tim Hannig, who accompanied me on the drive. “And we wanted to create something of extraordinary beauty. Therefore, no roof.” Only a dozen Bacalars will be built. With so few being made, and at that sort of a price, the Bacalar is, essentially, a privately owned concept car. Although, unlike most concept cars, it is road legal. No one could give an exact price for the Bacalar that I was driving because it was literally, priceless. “Car Zero,” as was rather garishly lettered on the side, is the prototype Bacalar, and Bentley has no plans to sell it. It had been painted white for testing so any potential cracks or flaws in the body would show more easily, and had only recently been repainted a deep ocean green.
The all-wheel-drive Bacalar has a turbocharged 650-horsepower 12-cylinder engine, but it is not intended to be a street-shredding high-performance sports car. Customers who want that sort of thing can shop at Bentley’s sister-brand Lamborghini. (Both are owned by the Volkswagen Group.) With its smooth ride, comfortable seats and ample trunk space, the Bacalar is designed to be the sort of car one might drive every day, even though one probably will not. Performance was not entirely left out of engineering considerations, of course. Even though its body is wholly different, the Bacalar shares much of its basic parts with a Bentley Continental GT, specifically the high performance GTC Speed model. But the Bacalar is a couple of hundred pounds lighter, thanks to a body that’s made mostly out of expensive carbon fiber. Dispensing with the roof and backseats also saved weight. All of this has also helped lower the car’s center of gravity, which improves handling around curves. At about about 5,300 pounds, it’s not exactly lithe, though, weighing more than a full-size Mercedes luxury sedan.