I took the most powerful Bentley ever for a spin around London

The Batur is painted a vivid shade called Purple Sector, making it instantly Instagrammable – Andrew Crowley

Sebastian Pokryzwniak has driven almost all brands of supercars. As head concierge at the Royal Lancaster Hotel overlooking Hyde Park in London, the 41-year-old has 16 years’ experience parking prized motors, often owned by equally valued guests.

“At first I was very scared. Now I don’t think about driving a Ferrari or a McLaren. The tricky part is remembering how to start different cars, where the power door switch is on a Rolls-Royce or locating the reverse button on an Aston Martin. We don’t have curbs in our garage, but a scratched alloy would be a disaster.”

His words ring in my ears as I gently push a £2 million Bentley Batur into a parking space in the center of the capital. The sidewalk already shows damage from previous encounters, a series of widespread scratches indicating expensive repair work. To make it interesting, this particular example of the most expensive production Bentley of all time is also left-hand drive.

A prototype of just 18 hand-built cars, this “standard” Batur sits on exclusive 22-inch alloy wheels, painted crystal black, then machined and polished to perfection. Bentley wouldn’t mind revealing the replacement value, but don’t expect to find a cheap replacement at Halfords. Of course, customers can further customize the wheels and take the risk of leaving any shade of paint on the pavement.

Bentley Batur prototypeBentley Batur prototype

The Batur sits on exclusive 22-inch alloy wheels painted in crystal black – Andrew Crowley

With traffic waiting impatiently, this is the time to tighten your sphincter muscles and move on. Being based on Bentley’s Continental GT, at least the Batur has decent-sized exterior mirrors, proximity sensors and a reversing camera.

Nowadays, of course, that’s not the only camera watching. Created by Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house coachbuilding division, the ultra-rare Batur is catnip for social media types.

The most powerful Bentley of all time is also painted in a vivid shade called Purple Sector, making it instantly Instagrammable. Instead of a bland gray that discreetly goes unnoticed, this car cries out for attention. Determined not to go viral by hitting a Batur, I finally called on all my parallel parking skills, with the help of rear-wheel steering, to execute the maneuver without incident.

The Batur is named after a crescent-shaped volcanic lake on the island of Bali. Today I am a long way from the open spaces of Indonesia, stuck in traffic in a rain-soaked square in central London. As most Bentley promotional images suggest, this is a grand tourer designed for epic journeys across continents, not the hell of inner-city traffic.

Jeremy Taylor takes the supercar for a spin through central London trafficJeremy Taylor takes the supercar for a spin through central London traffic

Jeremy Taylor takes the supercar for a spin through central London traffic – Andrew Crowley

With speed bumps, narrow streets, 20mph speed limits, plus the constant threat of motorcyclists and kamikaze cyclists at every junction, London presents a real-world challenge for any hypercar owner. The Batur is certainly not a PC either, as it is powered by the most powerful version of Bentley’s W12 petrol engine ever built.

A 12-cylinder car feels like a dinosaur these days, a fact not lost on a lady on a bicycle who shakes a finger at me disapprovingly. The constant roar of the titanium-tipped exhaust pipes, the intrusive purple paint job and the 730 HP trying to break free at every opportunity suggest this could be a long day.

Unlike an anonymous motoring journalist who wedged a car between the walls of a French alley and then had to be rescued through the sunroof, I’ve decided to fully embrace discretion in the Bentley. Additionally, the stables around Mayfair were designed for horses. It’s not worth the risk to try to fit a 6-foot-5-inch-wide Batur through some of those gaps.

At least I wouldn’t hear that horrible screeching sound when the door mirrors slam against the bodywork. The test car is equipped with the optional Naim Audio stereo system. It honestly sounds better than the Royal Albert Hall acoustics, with 20 speakers, 2,200 watts of power and something called an “enhanced active bass seat”, which is very exciting for first-time passengers and is said to cost around £50,000.

Bentley Batur prototypeBentley Batur prototype

The Bentley Batur is a prototype of just 18 hand-built cars and costs a staggering £2 million – Andrew Crowley

However, the state-of-the-art excellence does not extend to the infotainment system, which is displayed on Bentley’s stunning rotating screen and head-up display. With a general speed limit of 20mph across most of London, keeping the 200mph-plus Batur at less than a tenth of its performance credentials is quite difficult. Unfortunately, the car’s traffic sign recognition system is also outdated and still indicates that the current limit is 50 km/h.

The Bacalar’s roofless sister car, the Batur, may sit on the underpinnings of a Continental GT, but Mulliner’s craftsmen have then lavishly wrapped the chassis in expensive carbon fiber and aluminum. However, because of the way the Batur is built, Dent-O-Fix won’t repair a scratch caused by a passing delivery motorcycle at home: Bentley will likely need a complete repaint of the car at its factory in Crewe.

And then there’s that gold trim. The Bentley represents a nice profit if left on the street at night because Batur customers have the option of illuminating the interior with 210 grams of 3D-printed 18-karat gold. That’s £7,839 worth of jewellery. Precious metal surrounds the stop/start button, ventilation controls and a marker inserted into the steering wheel.

At least you don’t have to look for the suspension lift button on a Batur. Unlike your everyday low-slung McLarens and Lamborghinis, the car that costs the same as a small family van in the Cotswolds, or five reasonably specced Rolls-Royce Ghosts, has decent ground clearance. It can tackle the capital’s arsenal of vicious speed bumps and will also manage to negotiate a multi-storey parking ramp, although finding a space wide enough to park any car is a challenge these days.

To be fair to Bentley, the Batur is probably one of the most usable hypercars I’ve driven due to its Continental GT underpinnings. Once you understand the staggering cost, heck, it could be a Ford Focus. Would I similarly like to drive a ground-hugging Aston Martin Valkyrie or Pininfarina Battista? I’m really not so sure.

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