Bentley has made it clear that its future is electric, and the Volkswagen Group-owned brand aims to go all-electric by 2030.
That obviously can't be done overnight, but the first step is very important and Bentley was expected to take it in 2025 when the launch of its first-ever EV was scheduled. However, VW Group's CARIAD software division delayed the release of several Audi and Porsche EVs, as well as the Bentley EV, with the latter being pushed back one year to 2026.
That said, we now get a clear look at the styling of Bentley's upcoming battery electric vehicles courtesy of the Mulliner Batur coupe unveiled on August 21 at the Monterey Car Week in California. While limited to just 18 examples priced at £1.65 million ($1.95 million) each and powered by a 730-horsepower 6.0-liter W12 gas engine, the Mulliner Batur is more than just a coachbuilt special.
The vehicle's new design DNA shows the direction for future Bentley EVs, introducing new themes, approaches and details while still maintaining a connection with the Continental GT, Flying Spur and Bentayga series.
Bentley says the Batur previews the design principles that are driving the development of the company's first BEV and the families of cars that follow. Aerodynamics will obviously play a large role and that is pretty clear when looking at the Batur's simplified body design.
Gallery: Bentley Mulliner Batur
"Aerodynamics are super important, not just for range but also for noise reduction because you do not have the engine noise anymore."
Bentley's head of design Andreas Mindt
He added that another Batur design feature that Bentley will carry through to EVs is the idea of the "endless" hood. Bentley vehicles have always had long hoods to accommodate large engines, but Mindt's team has come up with a strip of brightwork running along the hood down the sides of the car to indicate that traditional length, even though the cabin will move forward with the EV.
"A mark of power and prestige has always been a long bonnet. Our new design cues include a line that stretches from the bonnet along the whole length of the car, connecting the bonnet into the body, making the car long and lean and giving an elongated proportion to the front end."
According to Mindt, this allows the viewer to still recognize a Bentley even with a different proportion. As for the simpler body surface and lack of decorative elements, he says they are countered with muscular proportions that give the body "steam-train strength."
At the front, designers have modernized the famous Bentley grille, making it lower and more upright to give a stronger face and a more dominant stance.
"The grille is flanked by a new headlight shape and design, an evolution of the design used on Bacalar and maintaining the single large headlight either side. These are matched with all-new tail-lamps at the rear, that sit either side of a deployable spoiler."
Deliveries of the 18 Bentley Mulliner Batur coachbuilt cars will begin in mid-2023; despite the eye-watering price, all 18 vehicles have already been spoken for.