Model Perspective: Bentley Batur Convertible

Bentley Keeps the Art of Coachbuilding Alive

Coachbuilding in the modern age is not dead. For proof, consider the Bentley Batur convertible you see here. Each will be hand-built with a body an interior exclusive to this model. If you were not among the 18 people selected to acquire a Batur coupe that preceded the convertible last year, you may be disappointed to learn that there will be two fewer Batur convertibles than that to go around. On the upside, while the Batur coupe was not certified for sale in the U.S., forcing American owners to keep them at their overseas homes, some of the Batur convertibles will reportedly come here.

As for the Batur convertible’s price, consider that the coupe reportedly started in the $2.1 million neighborhood and go from there.

Batur, the Hero

Batur, a male Turkish name meaning “brave warrior” or “hero,” seems appropriate for the Batur convertible and coupe from Bentley. Both hand-built, super-limited cars are in a sense heroic for the marque. Both are among the final homes for Bentley’s unique twin-turbo W-12 engine, which the company will retire this summer. (An all-new twin turbo V-8 plug-in hybrid powertrain will take its place as Bentley’s top engine.)

The Batur convertible is heroic for Bentley in another way. It is the third modern coachbuilt model from the automaker, following the Batur coupe and, before that, the Bacalar topless roadster. Bentley built 12 of the latter, plus an engineering prototype called “Car Zero.” The Batur siblings likewise each start with a Car Zero, and that is the Vermillion Satin Duotone convertible you see on your screen.

Why is that heroic? The art of coachbuilding for cars, meaning hand-built bodies with the possibility of ultra-limited production, essentially disappeared in the early 1970s – or seemed to. If your business card showed “Sultan of Brunei” as your job title, you might have many custom-built one-off cars that only you and a few others would have ever seen.

Orange Bentley Batur convertible seats
There is some semi-covered storage space behind the seats. (Source: Bentley)

Muscular Sleekness

In the coachbuilding tradition, the Bentley Bacalar and Batur models were based on an existing car, in this case the Continental GT. Unlike classic Bentleys, though, the Continental GT is a unit-body car, which makes building a special body for it a complex and of course very expensive task.

The body itself is, like the Batur coupe’s, a stunner. It’s got a chunky presence that seems to owe at least a small debt to some classic American muscle cars. Even with its large, stand-up-straight front grille, the Batur shows a certain sleekness. The rear design that might have looked good on the Continental GT.

The “airbridge” spanning the passenger compartment behind the seats is meant to recall “barchetta” roadsters of the past, which would, oddly, reference Ferrari and Maserati sports-racers from 60 years ago, but nothing from Bentley’s history. While Ferrari’s own barchetta throwback from recent memory, the 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta had only a flimsy, temporary canvas top to keep out the elements, the Bentley Batur convertible really is a convertible. A power top hides away until needed and can be raised or lowered in 19 seconds while driving at up to 30 mph.

Orange Bentley Batur convertible profile view
The Batur’s chunky presence might owe at least a small debt to American muscle cars. (source: Bentley)
Orange Bentley Batur convertible top view
The “airbridge” spanning the seats is intended to give the Batur a “barchetta” look. (Source: Bentley)

Limited Only By Imagination, Not Money

Also in the coachbuilding tradition, each of the 16 Batur convertible buyers has almost unlimited options for customization in terms of colors and finishes, outside and in. As a result, each car will take several months to build. All work is done by Bentley’s in-house customization department, Mulliner. The name traces back to H.J. Mulliner, an independent coachbuilder absorbed by Rolls-Royce in 1959. Rolls then merged it with Park Ward, a coachbuilder it had acquired 20 years prior. The name went with the sale of Bentley to Volkswagen Group in 1998.

Bentley says the customization possibilities are limited only by clients’ imaginations, and we presume budget will not be a limitation for any. As one hint of the opulence available, the drive-mode dial surrounding the ignition button can be accented in 3D-printed rose gold, as can the climate-control dials and the top center marker on the steering wheel. This optional treatment  can also extend to other items.

Orange Bentley Batur convertible interior
That’s genuine, 3D-printed 18K gold on the drive mode dial selector. (Source: Bentley)

The Mighty W-12 Bows Out

As noted, the Batur Convertible will be one of the final cars to showcase Bentley’s fabulous and unique 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 engine. And, speaking of Volkswagen, yes, the W-12 is related to that brand’s respected Volkswagen VR6 engine. In fact, conceptually it is two of those splayed 72 degrees apart and sharing a common crankshaft. Each side of the engine – meaning each VR6 – uses a super-narrow 15-degree angle between its two banks of three cylinders. (Thus, two side-by-side V’s yield a W.)

The Bentley W-12 in the Batur cranks out a massive 740 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. With 738 lb-ft. of peak torque at a mere 1,750 rpm, just a brush on the accelerator pedal gets you to that peak almost immediately.

As in the Continental GT it is based on, the Batur convertible’s W-12 is teamed with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Bentley did not claim a top speed for the Batur convertible, but the coupe was said to be capable of 209 mph, so cocktail party bragging rights are assured. The standard titanium Sports Exhaust “provides a soundtrack in keeping with the level of performance,” Bentley says. Those nifty tailpipe enclosures are 3D-printed in titanium.

Orange Bentley Batur convertible rear view
The rear design might have looked good on the Continental GT. (Source: Bentley)

A Car That Most Will Never See

So, what do we have: special body, titanium exhaust, gold-plated interior knobs, production limited to 16 cars … yep, that’s coachbuilding. We’d guess there might be a market for more than the 16 cars, but with the Batur convertible, Bentley is also selling the benefit of exclusivity. Very few people will ever even see a Bentley Batur. That’s what you get for $2M+.

Orange Bentley Batur convertible high rear view
Wouldn’t you like to see this design translated to a regular production Bentley for maybe one eighth the Batur’s cost? (Source: Bentley)
Jim Koscs
Written by Jim Koscs, Audamotive Communications