Why Bentley is dropping its iconic W12 engine for a V8 hybrid

Why Bentley is dropping its iconic W12 engine for a V8 hybrid

We drove the fourth-generation Continental GT fitted with a brand new V8 that gives 750+ horsepower and 50 miles of all-electric vary. 

Kristin Shaw Avatar

Posted on Could 28, 2024 7:00 PM EDT

a car on cement

The 2025 Bentley Continental GT is now powered by a V8 hybrid setup with 50 miles of all-electric vary. Kristin Shaw/Widespread Science

After constructing greater than 100,000 W12s since 2002, Bentley ceased manufacturing of its iconic engine in April. With a watch on sustainability, the British model deliberate to retrain and redeploy the 30 W12 specialists and concentrate on its new V8 and V6 hybrid powertrains.

Every Bentley engine is handbuilt, because it has been for the reason that starting of the corporate’s historical past greater than a century in the past. The automaker has established a legacy on its energy and brawn, with high-end automobiles that fulfill the wishes of deep-pocketed prospects. Like its countrymate and competitor Rolls-Royce, Bentley is now headed toward electrification, and all of it begins with the fourth-generation Continental GT.

The coupe, now fitted with a 771 horsepower V8 hybrid powertrain, can ship as much as 50 miles of all-electric vary and a formidable 737 pound-feet of torque. Its distinctive growl is all pure, and whereas the hybrid setup is definitely completely different from the W12, it retains the easy acceleration one would anticipate from a automobile that begins at 1 / 4 of one million {dollars}. 

That is how this ultra-luxury model made the change.

Constructed within the “Dream Manufacturing facility”

100 and fifty-eight miles northwest of London, the Bentley Motors staff has been crafting highly effective automobiles in Crewe for the reason that facility was constructed within the mid-Forties. Inside these partitions, Bentley designed, developed, and constructed the Continental GT, launching it in 2003. That first Continental GT was powered by a six-liter twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder engine in a W formation.

“Honestly, it’s nearer to a V12 than a standard W, utilizing solely two units of camshafts, however the staggered cylinder bores within the blocks and heads created two minuscule 15-degree Vs, including as much as one sort-of W,” says Ethan Jupp of Goodwood (the group that hosts the Goodwood Competition of Pace). The profit? “It was extra compact in size than a traditional V12 and was spectacularly easy.”

Bentley invested almost $45 million in a brand new high quality and engineering heart on the Crewe location and broke floor almost a 12 months in the past. The “Dream Manufacturing facility” is a part of the automaker’s $3.2 billion, 10-year plan to grow to be carbon impartial by 2030, which incorporates the model’s very first battery-electric automobile in 2026.

“I’m personally an enormous fan of the 12-cylinder engine however the brand new eight-cylinder is a greater engine,” Matthias Rabe, Bentley board member for R&D instructed me. “It’s a really emotional, all-natural sound. It’s very responsive, enhanced by utilizing electrical energy, and it’s extraordinarily highly effective. That was essential, to maintain the [Bentley] character.”

Monitor examined

I examined the brand new Continental GT on the Circuit Parcmotor Castellolí outdoors of Barcelona, Spain. With Bentley Director of R&D Automobile Movement Bentley Motors Markus Thiel within the passenger seat to direct me across the observe, I navigated the turns and straightaways with warning at first, then choosing up pace with every leg. 

We began in Bentley mode, which units up the automobile for all-electric energy, then progressed to Sport mode, and completed in Consolation mode. Sport mode, which additionally regenerates the battery, unlocks the entire engine’s energy and offers the Bentley wings; I felt the acquainted rumble that the coupe has all the time promised. Consolation mode is made for cruising, which is what a Grand Tourer is supposed to do. 

Bentley is transferring towards electrification, with its first battery-electric automobile scheduled for 2026. In the meantime, the Continental GT’s hybrid engine is a stable step. Picture: Kristin Shaw/Widespread Science

The 2025 Continental GT was constructed with 50/50 stability, Rabe says. As the load of the automobile is evenly distributed between the entrance and rear axles, the coupe’s dealing with is designed to be excellent. It additionally improves put on patterns on the tires. Bentley Head of Automobile Dynamics Richard Haycox says the twin-valve damper system is the chassis’ secret weapon, offering a better envelope of calibration with out compromise. In essence, which means the dampers (or shocks, as we are likely to name them extra usually in North America) work collectively at every nook of the automobile to enhance the compression and rebound ratios. Consequently, the journey feels much more cushioned than the earlier single-damper construction. All of that’s calibrated fastidiously with code, Haycox says, and the calibration prospects are infinite with tiny changes. 

I instructed Thiel that it nonetheless felt very planted, even within the rain. That’s precisely the purpose, he responded. 

“This automobile is a every day driver, and it would rain typically,” Thiel stated. “The thought is to provide the feeling that it’s protected, cocooned, secure, and managed.” 

Close to the tip of my remaining lap, the clouds that had threatened to burst open all morning lastly gave means, and I went round as soon as extra to chill down the brakes. That is when the Continental GT’s all-wheel drive setup actually confirmed its functionality, gripping the floor as if every roll of the tires renewed sticky glue that held it in place. 

The stickiness is as a result of new co-developed Pirelli P Zero tires and torque vectoring, which applies drive to every wheel relying on detected grip and traction. Thiel says the rubber sneakers have been designed to bear the load of the brand new coupe, which is of course heavy as a hybrid. Plus, the tires have to boost vary with low rolling resistance.

“The tire has a big effect on the entire system and the habits,” Thiel stated. 

The brand new Continental GT might be revealed to the world with out its camouflage on the finish of June. Keep tuned for extra.

Inbuilt Crewe within the U.Ok., Bentley’s latest automobile will make its world debut in late June. Picture: Kristin Shaw/Widespread Science

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