The cancellation of this year’s Geneva International Motor Show in March did little to dampen the spirits of auto enthusiasts, nor has it dissuaded the world’s most sought-after sports and luxury marques from making impressive debuts. Instead of pulling the sheets off their latest creations before horsepower-hungry crowds, the likes of Bentley, Aston Martin, Bugatti and McLaren hosted virtual unveilings and found other unconventional ways to announce their feats of engineering, design and bespoke craftsmanship.
With 88 examples being built at about $950,000 apiece, the Aston Martin V12 Speedster is perhaps more accessible than some of the new rides, but no less awe-inspiring than the competition. A product of the marque’s Q by Aston Martin custom division, the dashing design draws inspiration from both Aston’s rich racing history and aeronautical engineering. The two-seater has a bespoke body constructed almost entirely from carbon fiber, and also lacks a roof in what seems to be a growing trend. Its 5.2-liter, twin-turbo V12 is good for 200 mph.
At about $3.2 million, Bugatti’s ultra-exclusive new Chiron Pur Sport, limited to just 60 units, is the most expensive of the new debuts. Its 1,480 horsepower 8.0- liter W16 engine is also the most powerful of the bunch, rocketing it to 217 mph. If all the exposed carbon fiber doesn’t tip you off that this is the ultimate version of Bugatti’s already-iconic Chiron, the massive front splitter and six-foot wide rear wing give the game away. Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann calls it “an unadulterated, uncompromising driving machine.”
That’s the kind of language one also often hears applied to McLarens, and the new 765LT, the latest, lightest and most powerful of the marque’s Longtail series, is no exception. At $358,000 it’s a relative bargain compared to the others on this list, but its roaring 765 horsepower V8 brooks no invidious comparisons. Limited to 765 examples, it employs advanced carbon fiber technologies to max out the power-to-weight ratio, to devastating effect.
McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt says that the car’s “incredible performance and astonishing levels of driver engagement [are] the result of hundreds of detailed engineering actions undertaken to ensure the purest possible connection between driver and car.” Along with its razor-sharp looks, you may have a hard time convincing anyone you paid less than $400,000 for the privilege.
Meanwhile Bentley wins top marks for luxury with the $1.9 million-plus Bacalar, an ultimate version of its Continental GT Convertible, built by the brand’s Mulliner division. The Continental’s potent 6.0-li ter W-12 turbocharged engine has been boosted to deliver 650 horsepower, enough to make the Bacalar the fastest open-topped Bentley ever built. Only 12 examples will be created by the master craftsmen in Crewe, and all have been spoken for.
The two-seater Bacalar features carbon fiber doors and front fenders, and also has no roof at all, just a windscreen and side glazing. The concept car is bristling with ultra-luxe finishes that also happen to be sustainable, including natural British wool carpets, paneling made from 5,000-year-old petrified wood (no trees were felled), and paint that contains ash from rice husks. That doesn’t make it edible, but its impression is definitely indelible.