Bentley Batur previews new design for electrified era

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Bentley’s Mulliner-built Batur has began testing ahead of a 2023 launch, and its design previews the brand’s new-era of EVs.

Bentley has begun testing of its new, ultra-low-volume Mulliner coupe, the Batur, which previews how its future electric models will look.

The launch of the limited-run car also signals the end of production for the ubiquitous 6.0-litre Crewe-built W12 engine that has powered its cars for 20 years.

Now the car, limited to just 18 units, is undertaking 58 weeks of European testing, with Car #0 taking on an extensive 2500km drive from Germany, through Italy, France and Spain. The Batur will reach its first customer in mid-2023.

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It is a two-door fixed-head coupe based on the underpinnings of the latest, longer-wheelbase Bentley Continental GT launched in 2018 and is powered by the punchiest W12 ever, still under development but claimed to make at least 544kW and 1003Nm of torque. This will make it Bentley’s most potent road car yet.

To go with its mighty engine, the Batur offers Bentley’s most advanced chassis available, as well as Bentley Continental GT Speed-level tuned three-chamber air suspension, 48V electric active anti-roll control, an electronic limited-slip differential (with torque vectoring) and unique 22-inch wheels with rear steering.

The Batur will be hand-built in Crewe by Mulliner, Bentley’s specialist coachbuilding arm. The car will closely follow the path of its predecessor, the barchetta-bodied Bentley Bacalar, which was revealed last year as a concept but subsequently productionised for a batch of 12 cars that sold out instantly.

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“We don’t build our concept cars to throw away,” said CEO Adrian Hallmark. “We build them for customers to buy.”

Named after a volcanic lake in Bali, Indonesia, the new Batur will get a run of 18 cars, each selling for $3 million before options — and they are all sold out, too. Several of the prospective owners are serial Bentley customers who have just received or are still awaiting delivery of a Bacalar: eight of the 12 Bacalar have now been built and delivered.

The new Batur is the first publicly revealed work of Bentley’s refreshed design team, led by design director Andreas Mindt, who joined the company at the start of last year. Mindt says the Batur’s new-form language will be a key part of the company’s “transformational journey” towards the launch of its first battery-electric car, a fifth Bentley model line, in 2026.

After celebrating its centenary in 2019, Bentley revealed a ‘Beyond100’ programme that entails a self-funded spend of £2.5 billion over five years – 85 per cent of it going on new model development – that will include the opening of a brand-new plant for the company’s BEVs.

Mindt, who as a junior designer worked on Bentley’s mid-engined Hunaudières supercar concept in 2003 soon after he joined the Volkswagen Group, has conducted a fresh review of Bentley’s design values over the past 18 months, going back to fundamentals such as why the company exists and what it’s good at.

This ground-level research identified three Bentley buzz words – potent, inspirational and harmonious – and the Batur’s simple, unadorned and highly sculptural shape is the result. Mindt summarises his aim as being “to deliver presence through sculpture”.

He said: “We don’t need decoration. We believe luxury car customers’ priorities are changing, and not just in cars. They want their cars to be quietly impressive, not flashy. We’re moving away from two-dimensional graphics towards designs with surfaces that play a lot with light and shadows.”

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