Opinion

Opinion: The Bentley W12 will be sorely missed

Bentley’s plan to go fully electric means the clock is now ticking on its association with the VW Group’s W12 petrol engine, which began with the Continental GT in 2003.

There was a sniffiness about it at the time from Bentley traditionalists, who preferred the more effortless torque of the firm’s 6.75-litre turbo V8. Well, that was certainly a wonderful engine too, but it wasn’t nearly as adaptable or clever as the compact, innovative W12.

Some also said the W12 would never make big power reliably because of the inherent challenges of getting cool air to its inner banks of cylinders. Some problems.

Three years ago, Bentley got 700 imperial horses from it, and 750lb ft, for the last-of-the-old-line Continental Supersports. I bet there’s quite a lot more to come from it now.

The thing is, I’ve always preferred it at its most refined and unstressed. There’s a deliciously silken brand of unstoppableness about its low-range torque that works brilliantly in heavy cars.

Electric motors will supply as much torque quite easily. They won’t approach nearly the same demure mechanical charm, though.

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