Bentley has commenced the final development, durability and validation testing of the Mulliner Bacalar, a barchetta-style two-seater which most closely resembles the Continental GT. Dubbed ‘Car Zero’, the first engineering prototype for the open-air two-seater has already started racking up mileage and passing quality tests as part of its on-car validation programme that is set to span 20 weeks, says Bentley.

Thus far, the Bacalar has completed wind tunnel-based aerodynamic assessment, high speed stability, handling and dynamics evaluations, noise and vibration appraisal and thermal measurements. The car will now enter a period of customer-focused mileage accumulation and durability work, after which it will take on a phase of climate cycle testing at temperatures up to 80 degrees centigrade.

Top speed has also been proven, says Bentley, with a V-max run proving its maximum of beyond 200 mph (322 km/h), says Bentley. Just 12 units of the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar will be produced, and all have already been spoken for. The open-air two-seater is inspired by the EXP 100 GT concept, and the only shared exterior part is the door handle, which comes from the Continental GT in order to use its keyless entry.

The rear clamshell, wings and top deck of the Bacalar are made from carbon-fibre, with the doors fashioned from aluminium, an 3D-printing enables the creation of an ‘even more distinctive car’, says Bentley. The Bacalar’s rear tracks are 20 mm wider than those on the Continental GT, which enable the fitment of 22-inch wheels, and the headlamps and tail lamps further distinguish the two-seater’s visual identity.

The first example of the Bacalar was unveiled wearing the Yellow Flame paint finish, which Bentley says is a synthetically produced silicon dioxide platelet coated with iron oxide, using rice husk ash to create 90% pure silicon dioxide. Each Bacalar will be built to its customers desired specification, including paint options, special exterior treatments and design themes.

Inside, the Bacalar cockpit features a steeply-angled centre console into the dashboard. Also adopted here from the Continental GT is the Rotating Display, though here featuring 5,00 year-old Riverwood veneer. Chosen for its dark look from lying in wet earth for millennia, the wood is air-dried for long periods of time to conserve its natural grain.

Once veneered, the dashboard is sliced in two and joined by a 3 mm chrome strip, the upper section wearing a semi-matte finish while the lower is high-gloss. Ornate details are a Bentley mainstay and the Bacalar is no different, with 148,199 individual stitches required to embroider the Bacalar quilt on each seat.

The venerable 6.0 litre W12 biturbo petrol engine powers the Bacalar, here in a 659 PS/900 Nm state of tune. Transmission comes courtesy of an eight-speed gearbox and all-wheel-drive, while the chassis features air suspension and the 48-volt Dynamic Ride system. The Bacalar is the first from the Mulliner Coachbuilt portfolio, which will eventually be joined by two more – Classic, and Collections.

GALLERY: Bentley Mulliner Bacalar