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

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

Sebastian Pokryzwniak has driven almost every make of supercar. As head concierge at the Royal Lancaster Hotel overlooking Hyde Park in London, the 41-year-old has 16 years of experience parking cherished motors often owned by equally precious guests.

“At the start I was scared stiff. Now I think nothing of driving a Ferrari or a McLaren. The tricky bit is remembering how to start different cars, where the electric door switch is on a Rolls-Royce, or locating the reverse button on an Aston Martin. We have no kerbs in our on-site garage but a scratched alloy would be a disaster.”

His words are ringing in my ear as I gently nudge a £2 million Bentley Batur into a parking space in the capital’s centre. The kerb already shows damage from previous encounters, a series of extended scuffs that shouts expensive repair job. Just to make it interesting, this particular example of the most expensive production Bentley ever is also left-hand drive.

A prototype for only 18 hand-built cars, this “standard” Batur sits on unique, 22-inch alloy wheels, painted crystal black, then machined and polished to perfection. Bentley wouldn’t care to disclose the replacement value, but don’t expect to find a cheap spare in Halfords. Of course, customers can personalise the wheels still further and risk leaving any shade of paint on the pavement.

Bentley Batur prototype
The Batur sits on unique, 22-inch alloy wheels which are painted crystal black - Andrew Crowley

With traffic waiting impatiently, this is a moment to tighten the sphincter muscles and get on with it. Being based on Bentley’s long-serving Continental GT, at least the Batur has decent-sized door mirrors, proximity sensors and a reversing camera.

These days, of course, that isn’t 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 ever is also painted a vivid shade called Purple Sector, making it instantly Instagrammable. Rather than some nondescript grey that slips discreetly under the radar, this car screams for attention. Determined not to go viral by bashing a Batur, I eventually draw on all my parallel parking skills, aided by rear-wheel steer, to execute the manoeuvre without incident.

The Batur is named after a crescent-shaped volcanic lake on the island of Bali. Today, I’m a long way from the wide-open spaces of Indonesia, stuck in traffic on a rain-sodden square in central London. As most of Bentley’s promotional imagery suggests, this is a grand tourer designed for epic, cross-continent drives, not the stop-start hell of inner-city traffic.

Jeremy Taylor takes the supercar for a spin through London's inner-city traffic
Jeremy Taylor takes the supercar for a spin through London's inner-city traffic - Andrew Crowley

With speed bumps, narrow streets, 20mph speed limits, plus the constant threat of kamikaze scooter riders and cyclists at every junction, London represents a real-world challenge for any hypercar owner. The Batur is also unquestionably non-PC, powered by the most potent version of Bentley’s W12 petrol engine ever built.

A 12-cylinder car feels like a dinosaur these days, a fact not missed by a lady on a bicycle who gives me a disapproving wag of a finger. The constant rumble from titanium-tipped exhaust pipes, the indiscreet purple paint job and 730bhp trying to break loose at any opportunity suggest this could be a long day.

Unlike an unnamed motoring journalist who wedged a car between the walls of a French alleyway and then had to be rescued via the sunroof, I’ve therefore decided to fully embrace discretion in the Bentley. Besides, the mews around Mayfair were designed for horses. Trying to squeeze a 6ft 5in-wide Batur through some of those gaps isn’t worth the risk.

At least I wouldn’t hear that awful scraping sound as the door mirrors crush into the bodywork. The test car is fitted with Naim Audio’s optional stereo system. It honestly sounds better than the acoustics in the Royal Albert Hall, with 20 speakers, 2,200 watts of oomph and something called an “active bass enhanced seat” - quite a thrill for novice passengers and said to cost around £50,000.

Bentley Batur prototype
The Bentley Batur is a prototype for only 18 hand-built cars and costs a staggering £2 million - Andrew Crowley

Yet state-of-the-art excellence doesn’t extend to the infotainment system, flashed onto Bentley’s astonishing rotating display screen and the head-up display. With a blanket speed limit of 20mph in place across most of London, keeping the 200mph-plus Batur reigned in to less than a tenth of is performance credentials is difficult enough. Unfortunately, the car’s traffic sign recognition system is also annoyingly out of date and still indicates the prevailing limit as 30mph.

The sister car to the roofless Bacalar, the Batur may sit on the underpinnings of a Continental GT but Mulliner craftsmen have then luxury-wrapped the chassis in expensive carbon-fibre and aluminium. However, because of the way the Batur is constructed, a scratch from a passing delivery motorbike won’t be touched in at home by Mr Dent-O-Fix – the car will likely need a full respray by Bentley at its Crewe factory.

And then there’s that gold trim. The Bentley represents rich pickings if left on the street at night because Batur customers have the option to brighten the interior with 210 grams of 3D-printed, 18 carat gold. That’s £7,839 of bling. The precious metal surrounds the stop-start button, vent controls and an insert marker on the steering wheel.

At least there’s no scrabbling around for the suspension lift button in a Batur. Unlike your everyday low-slung McLaren and Lamborghini, the car that costs the same as a small estate in the Cotswolds, or five reasonably-specified Rolls-Royce Ghosts, has a decent amount of ground clearance. It can cope with the capital’s arsenal of vicious speed bumps and will also manage to negotiate a multi-storey car park ramp, although finding a space wide enough to park any car is a challenge these days.

In fairness to Bentley, the Batur is probably one of the more usable hypercars I’ve driven due to its Continental GT underpinnings. Once you’ve got your head around the staggering cost, heck, it could be a Ford Focus. Would I care to drive in a similar manner in a ground-hugging Aston Martin Valkyrie or Pininfarina Battista? I’m really not so sure.