With bigger, many-cylindered engines dropping like flies, you might wonder how much of a shelf-life Bentley‘s 6.0-litre W12 has. The British outfit is the last of the VW Group brands to use the colossal engine, which is conspicuously absent from the facelifted regular Bentayga range - if you want it in the SUV, you have to buy the Bentayga Speed.
Speaking at the online reveal of the new Continental GT Speed, however, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark insisted the 650bhp coupe is not a “swansong” for the engine. He referred to the W12 as “effectively a new engine,” and even alluded to further developments in the near future. “For today, this is the pinnacle, but you can already imagine what we may do,” Hallmark said.
It’s an engine with plenty of “headroom,” he noted, but Bentley won’t ever hybridise the car. “We’re not going to create a plug-in hybrid 12-cylinder, and the reason is weight,” he said, adding, “If you put 250 kilos of battery into the heaviest car that we do, you push [the dynamics] into a completely different dimension.”
His later conclusion of “we would not be doing a hybrid 12” seemed to cover any kind of electrified version of the 6.0-litre engine, and that’s important. A few weeks back Bentley pledged to go fully electric by 2030, a stepping stone to which will be the electrification of all models by 2026.
We would have expected the W12 to have been culled from the range by then anyway, though - it’s simply getting harder and harder for manufacturers to keep such engines alive.
From the sounds of it, at least, Bentley’s big, unusual 12-cylinder will stick around longer than a lot of its contemporaries. We’ll miss it when it’s gone.