Bentley Batur review: the most powerful and most expensive production Bentley ever built Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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Tuesday 26th September
First Drive

Bentley Batur review: the most powerful and most expensive production Bentley ever built

Published: 20 Jun 2023

Oooh, is that the New Bentley Continental?

Erm. Yes and no. Sort of. But no. It’s the £1.6-million-ish Bentley Batur. The ‘ish’ contributing local taxes - which will likely be the cost of a standard Conti on their own. It’s not a new Continental, but does draw the eye towards what future Bentley product will look like - with particular reference to the era of incoming electric Bentleys. But there’s a Continental W12 Speed under there, albeit with a few… tweaks.

Wait, what? A Conti W12 Speed that costs more than £1.6 million quid? It better be made of pure gold for that…

Well, some of it is. The organ stop vents and drive selector surround can be had in 3D-printed 18-Carat gold - with it’s own hallmark - but that’s just the tip of a very expensive coachbuilt iceberg; the Batur might be W12 Speed in the bones, but the flesh is different. And mostly carbonfibre, handbuilt, and in very limited production volumes. In fact, only 18 will ever see the light of rich people’s day. And yes, as is the way with these things, they’re already sold out.

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So take a few steps back - what IS the Batur?

Try some superlatives; it’s the most powerful and most expensive production Bentley ever. A sister car to the barchetta Bacalar, the Batur is named after a really rather pretty lake in Bali (obviously…), and features a 730bhp/737lb ft biturbo W12, but with that maximum torque from 1,750rpm all the way until 5,000rpm, performance is, for want of a better word, relentless.

But that’s not the bigger point: the Batur is technically a Bentley Batur by Mulliner, throwing back to Bentley’s long history of bespoke coachbuilding - and that means very exclusive low-volume bodywork and more individualisation than most of us will know what to do with. This is a car that will invoke choice paralysis in even the most decisive among us. In terms of GT Speed, the only carryover parts are the hardware, windscreen, header rail and a couple of interior shapes. It’s not the shoutiest of re-skins - even the Bacalar was more outré - but in the metal, it makes an impression.

So it’s just a W12 Speed in a party frock?

Not really. Though the basics are the same, the Batur gets some special sauce, but it’s more subtle than you might expect. The body - as mentioned - is handbuilt, the carbon bits produced oversized and then trimmed to fit millimetrically. There’s a more upright grille, completely new face with much slimmer LED headlights, and a pair of spines that run from the leading edge of the front all the way back to the C-pillar. Bentley calls it an ‘endless’ bonnet, and it just works as a 3D go-faster stripe, pulling the car’s shape through and back to the muscular rear quarters.

The rear is tucked up  - again with slimmed-down lights - and finished with slashed exhausts with titanium exhaust finishers. Even the paint and colour-coding is shaded to produce a visual lengthening/lightening of the overall shape. Too subtle for a car costing this much? Possibly, but in the metal, it’s much more defined than pictures seem to show. And yes, you can have it in pretty much any colour you want, and the paint is deep. But be wary: one of the issues associated with the exceptional colours is that because of the way the car is made, assembled and painted you can’t just blow a parking scrape back in. You bash a Batur, and you’re more than likely looking at a full respray, or face imperfection. Crikey.

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What’s it like on the inside?

Actually fairly recognisable, although built like a tank. The Batur is a two-seat coupe with just a shelf behind the front seats, for which you can get a fitted luggage set. The boot is more of a porthole over the back of the car, but there’s space there too if you can lift stuff over the top. The rest of the interior gets the aforementioned gold bits - or titanium if you prefer - and a safe set of multimedia screens. The materials are variously made with sustainable leathers and re-woven fabrics, including some bits made from the husks left over from - believe it or not - coffee production. Smells normal though. There’s also the liberal use of a composite that uses flax as a base, which is basically vegetable carbonfibre.

And yes, there’s a lot of choice in terms of finishes, textures and colours - far too many to go into here if you want to do anything else today. Generally though, it does feel like a Continental that’s been blueprinted - the acoustics are top drawer. And speaking of acoustics, one of the cars we tried had the NAIM Audio optional stereo system fitted. And it is possibly the best car audio we’ve ever heard, and the standard NAIM system ain’t half bad. The only catch? The big beats cost £50k. And that’s a lot, even for rich people.

Enough about the stereo - what’s that engine like?

Ok, getting there. With half an eye on producing only electrified cars by 2030, the Batur may have the seeds of a new EV styling package on the outside, but the heart of the Batur is a celebration of the W12 petrol engine - itself nearing two decades old. So it’s the familiar twin-turbo twelve cylinder, but this time with a few upgrades. There’s an improved pair of variable vane turbochargers, bigger and more efficient chargecoolers and much improved breathing both on terms of inhale and exhale through the Akrapovic exhaust - itself with those titanium exhaust tips.

Bentley insists the engine is merely ‘more efficient’, but 730bhp and 737lb ft of torque with a torque curve that resembles a park bench in profile doesn’t hurt the performance. In terms of production cars, the Batur is therefore the most powerful production car Bentley’s ever made - and the performance figures back it up. It’s not as loud as you might expect, even in the various modes, but there’s just such massive shove from so low that the motor never really feels caught off guard.

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You can row through the 8-spd paddlebox and leave a corner in the ‘wrong’ gear, and the torque just picks the car up and throws it down the road anyway. The Batur might be slightly lighter than the W12 Speed (about 40kg), but that’s not enough to make a huge difference. Ultimately, this is just a very fast car. You could keep a supercar honest on a twisty road.

Really? But it’s a big GT?!

Yep. But the GT Speed doesn’t exactly hang around, and the Batur has more power and basically every bit of hardware Bentley could chuck into it. So there’s the obvious four-wheel drive with adapted drive modes, an e-diff, four-wheel steering, 48-volt active ride control for the air suspension and what feels like some serious time spent in set-up. Even in the streaming wet, it’s a confident, reliable, nimble-feeling car.

You can feel the weight when you stand on the carbon ceramic brakes, but the way it turns in and grips is almost bizarre. You actually end up chucking it around like a giant hot hatch. And then you remember that it’s worth more than your entire life, and slow down a bit. In the right hands, this is a weapon. Probably only 10 per cent up on a standard GT Speed, but it’s enough to notice.

So are you saying that the Batur is worth the money?

Well, something is only ever worth what people are prepared to pay for it, and all the Baturs have already been sold. Bentley could have sold more of them, to be honest, but the savvy company has an eye on making these things collectible and residual values float with limited supply.

The thing is, the Batur is an interesting car in that it’s entirely workable as a daily-driven super-exotic. Where a lot of these multi-million pound fancies are roundly extreme, the Batur feels like you could use it every day, and especially for a decent chunk of touring. In fact, it would be a shame not to, although slapping 50k miles on a £1.6 million car might make some people wince. As a concept though, it’s a grand demonstration of what Mulliner is capable of, and another solid revenue stream as rich people demand cars with even more bespokery.

Cars like the Batur are almost as much art as science, and the world is a better place for such flights of fancy - even if mere mortals will never be able to afford them.

Price: £1.65 Million (plus local taxes)
Powertrain: front-engine, 6.0-litre W12 biturbo
Transmission: All-wheel drive with 4WS, e-Diff, 8-spd auto
Power: 730bhp, 737lb ft of torque @ 1,750rpm - 5,000rpm
Performance: 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds, 207mph top speed
Efficiency: 23mpg (combined), 311g/km C02 - real world 13.1mpg
Weight: 2,715kg
Rivals: A yacht - a Princess V55 would suit. A nice house in London. Four well-optioned Ferrari SF90s. A Lamborghini Countach LP800-4...

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