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The End of an Era – Bentley Announces the End of the W12

After 2 decades in production and over 100,000 units having been produced, Bentley have finally announced that the production of their now legendary W12 engine will stop in April of 2024.

This engine came to define so much of the high-tech/high-performance character of modern Bentley’s of the 2000’s. The wonderfully balanced and soulful 6-litre power plant was originally only fitted to the high-speed Continental GT’s and Flying Spur’s but formed the basis of nearly every range topping Bentley from there after.

This endless source of momentum we knew could not last forever. With tougher emissions and Bentley’s (which is owned by the Volkswagen Group) aim of becoming more reliant of EV technology with its Beyond100 plan, the majestic twin-turbo 12 cylinder must be consigned to the history books when the last behemoth leaves Crewe early next year.

The automotive world were first introduced to the engine back in 2003 in the then brand new Continental GT. Now, unlike the infamous 6.75 litre Bentley/Rolls Royce V8 which has also has only recently cease to exist, the W12 was in constant development. By Bentley’s own admission, the 6-litre right now would make around 54% more torque than 20 years ago and around 25% less emissions thanks to turbo technology and more sophisticated engine management software becoming available and more widely developed.

The next phase of the Bentley engine line-up will be the further development of their twin-turbocharged V8 and all-new V6 technology while combining it with the advanced hybrid systems from their parent company Volkswagen. Bentley have said that the decision to end production was ”Our progressive journey towards sustainable luxury mobility means making changes to every area of Bentley Motors.” So to keep their share of the luxury car market, which is now a global and very lucrative market, they must adopt and adapt.

Although we will all mourn the loss of this engine and its endless wave of power, Bentley will be sending it off in true Bentley fashion with the limited-edition Batur. A 750BHP swan song to send the old girl off in style. As Bentley themselves put it in a press-release, ”20 years and more than 100,000 W12s later, the time has come to retire this now-iconic powertrain as we take strides towards electrification – but not without giving it the best send-off possible, with the most powerful version of the engine ever created”

So, on this day and on that fateful day in April of next year – let us celebrate the time we had and mourn the moments we will never experience with this legendary modern engine but look forward to a world it helped to create.