Bentley’s choice to discontinue manufacturing of its 6.0-litre W12 engine ends a distinguished reign for one of the vital highly effective, dependable and fascinating engines ever made within the UK.
The unit’s novel, four-bank design was conceived when Volkswagen Group engine designers, pondering outdoors the field, mixed two narrow-angle VR6 engines above one crankshaft at an included angle of 72deg. The ensuing 6.0-litre turbocharged engine – a lot lauded by Ferdinand Piëch, the tech-loving group supremo of the time – appeared first in a record-breaking Volkswagen idea in 2001 after which in a model of the Audi A8.
Nevertheless, it got here to international prominence in 2003 as energy for the seminal Continental GT coupé, the primary new Bentley to be launched after the considerably messy divorce between Bentley and Rolls-Royce in 1998. Two years later, it was adopted for the Flying Spur limousine, intently associated beneath the pores and skin to a different Piëch favorite, the VW Phaeton.
The engine’s advanced structure meant it wanted a great deal of noise and vibration improvement, however one in all its predominant virtues was compactness: it was really smaller than Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 of the time. This was a very useful advantage within the comparatively short-nosed Conti GT, which additionally needed to accommodate the complexities of a everlasting four-wheel drive system.
Early Conti GTs had been quick, dependable and superbly constructed, although one foible was nose-heavy understeer and one other was a sequence of faint however unseemly “buzzes” from the engine in some rev ranges. There have been appreciable revisions to the engine for the 2008 launch of the higher-powered GT Pace mannequin and the 2009 Supersports, which (in a transfer that turned out to be a blind alley) was additionally expensively configured to run on ethanol.