After two decades, Bentley will stop making W12 engines, but not before the design features its most powerful iteration yet.
Bentley has announced that the W12 engine will cease production in 2024 – amid tighter emissions regulations and a shift to hybrid and electric cars – two years ahead of previously anticipated.
The engine has just over a year left as part of the lineup, withto build the last 12-cylinder in April 2024, before the production line switches to V6 hybrid and V8 engines.
By the time the W12 reaches its 20th anniversary this year, Bentley estimates it will have built more than 105,000 since it launched the engine in the revived 2003 Continental GT coupe.
Over those two decades, it claims to have improved horsepower by 37 percent and torque by 54 percent, while emissions have been reduced by 25 percent.
The W12 wasn’t unique to Bentley, however: the engine made its public debut in the Volkswagen W12 concept car in 1997, before being offered in the Audi A8, Volkswagen Phaeton and Volkswagen Touareg.
Before the W12 is gone, Bentley has promised theit will receive the most powerful version of the W12, producing 552kW and 1000Nm.
“Our W12 engine is easily the most successful twelve-cylinder automotive engine ever, and as it nears retirement to make way for future hybrids and [electric cars]we want to mark their achievements,” Bentley Motors Chairman Adrian Hallmark said in an August 2022 press release.
The unusual ‘W’ configuration, which is little more than two V6 engines joined together, with four rows of three-cylinders, meant the W12’s overall length was 24 per cent shorter than the equivalent V12 (which has two banks of six cylinder)
This means the W12 engine can fit under a shorter hood than a V12, “benefiting packaging and maximizing usable cabin space,” according to Bentley.
Bentley had previously made a series of official statements confirming that the W12 would be phased out by 2026, the same year the British luxury brand is expected to launch its first electric model.
The goalposts seem to move continuously, with the Bentley board memberthere was a chance that the W12 could live in an electric age. However, the company’s ‘Beyond100’ roadmap now means its entire range will be battery-powered by 2030.