5 min read
Anyone who’s ever driven a car can probably relate to the feeling of pure terror mixed with excitement that comes from pressing your foot on the gas pedal for the first time — the exhilaration of the open road is palpable, but the innate anxiety that you might hit a curb or even worse is looming ominously, even if subtly.
Have that feeling internalized? Good. Now imagine how much that feeling multiplies when you’re sitting behind the wheel of a nearly $2 million car that’s only one of 12 in the entire world.
I had the pleasure (and momentary panic after remembering that time at age 16 when I nearly hit a darting deer in my first car) of testing out Bentley Motor’s Bacalar Car Zero during Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach along the famed 17-mile drive.
Each of the 12 Bacalar vehicles been completely customized, from the paint color, to the seat stitching and leather, to the dashboard — you name it, you can probably have it done, provided you can pay for it.
Well actually, you can’t — all 12 have already been manufactured and sold to private buyers.
It’s a return to bespoke coach-building for Bentley’s Muliner division and offers a way for the Bentley team to work one-on-one with its customers, a level of accessibility and customization that’s nearly priceless (aside from the whole $2 million part).
Photo Courtesy of Bentley
I stepped into Car Zero and sat down delicately, afraid to break it — after all, this thing is a work of art.
I took a moment to take in the interior, which can only be described as complete and total elegance.
For starters, the interior wood is not an oak or a dark brown, as one might expect, but rather completely black.
And it wasn’t painted that way — the wood is called Riverwood, a unique paneling choice that comes from trees that aged in lakes and peat bogs in the UK for over 5,000 years before being taken out and dried, giving the wood its distinct black coloring and a one-of-a-kind look.
Chic and environmentally conscious? We love to see it, but it’s also what we’ve come to expect from Bentley, which has emphasized its sustainability efforts in recent years (the brand aims to become the most sustainable luxury mobility company in the world, with all cars planned to be electric by 2030).
The contrast between the wood and the golden yellow piping on the Beluga leather seats makes even more of an impact when the top’s down, so the interior can be compared with the Scarab green exterior — which is a color that truly has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. It’s as if emerald and hunter green had a baby and gained 10 volumes of gloss. It is as sharp as it gets.
The car also boasts a “wraparound” cockpit design, which blends the cockpit of the car with the dashboard, doors and customized luggage compartment.
Photo Courtesy of Bentley
I pushed the start button and began to take off at what was probably a solid 0.2 miles per hour, eager and ready.
I had noted that it was a bit chilly in Monterey, which was when I was introduced to the heat scarf concept.
No, it was not a physical scarf for my head (though ironically I did have one of those handy). This was a ring of air that could be activated with the touch of a button that would blow warm air around the part of my body that was exposed to the outside air, given that this was a convertible. Genius.
The car, as expected, drove smooth and quietly; when sport mode was activated, I could hear the engine get louder, which made for quite the show.
There’s no denying this car is meant to be seen. Dozens of eager car fanatics and probable YouTubers lined up along the 17-mile drive just hoping to get a quick shot of the Bacalar as it drove by, which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to fending off paparazzi in my life. But let’s be honest — if you’re driving the Bacalar, you’re loving every minute of it (guilty as charged).
The body of the car, though inspired by Bentley’s EXP 100 GT concept car, is completely unique to the Bacalar, which makes it not only instantly recognizable but also an instant head turner.
Photo Courtesy of Emily Rella
Jumping to higher speeds was a breeze along the coastline, with a 6.0-L W12 TSI engine that can reach up to 650 HP (not that I ever attempted pushing my limits, of course, because the speed limit was 25 mph).
I reluctantly made my way back and put the Bacalar into park, which is when I realized I couldn’t open the door to get out.
No — this was not a desperate attempt for me to never leave my beloved new car but an actual fact, seeing as the door handle was a leather strap that had to be tugged down and push out so the door could open.
A fitting end to a fitting joyride: Just when you think you have it all figured out, Bentley sneaks in another feature that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced in an automobile before.