The production of Bentley’s iconic W12 engine is set to end in April 2024. This remarkable engine has been the beating heart of Bentley’s performance flagships, and some would argue, the brand itself since 2003. With more than 100,000 units produced, the W12 is not only an engineering marvel, but is also among the most successful 12-cylinder engine of the modern era.
To celebrate the legacy of its W12 engine, Bentley has created the Speed Edition 12. This limited edition comprises just 120 units each of the special Bentayga, Flying Spur, Continental GT and Continental GTC models. These models feature several subtle interior and exterior refinements, making them instantly recognisable to those in the know.
Based on Bentley’s ‘Speed’ specification (the marque’s performance-oriented upgrades), the W12 inside the four Edition 12 models develop up to 659PS (650 bhp) between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the engine’s signature surge of torque reaches its peak of 900Nm at just 1,500rpm, and continues unabated through to 5,000 rpm.
The Edition 12 models will also feature several unique design enhancements. These include Edition 12 badging, numbered engine plaque, Edition 12 embroidery, colour graduated seat contrast stitching, and a fascia in Grand Black veneer with the engine firing sequence etched alongside an inlaid Edition 12 badge.
The W12’s engineering heritage can be traced back to 1991, to VW’s revolutionary VR6 engine. The W12, as we know it today, was the brainchild of Ferdinand Piech, VW Group’s erstwhile CEO. According to automotive folklore, Piech, an engineer by vocation, is said to have sketched his idea for a W12 while travelling on a bullet train in Japan. It was then up to VW Group’s engineers to bring his concept to life.
Bentley’s version of W12 made its debut in 2003 with the Continental GT, the first all-new Bentley model launched under Volkswagen Group ownership. The unique W-formation of the 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 enabled it to be 24 per cent shorter than an equivalent V12 with no compromise in power, efficiency, or refinement. Over the years, the continuous evolution of the engine has seen a 37 per cent increase in power and a 54 per cent increase in torque. The company also claims a 25 per cent reduction in emissions.
The external features of the four Speed Edition 12 models are subtle yet carefully curated. For example, the silver brake callipers on these cars are not available for any other Bentley model. Opening the bonnet, a numbered Edition 12 plaque has pride of place on the engine’s cover.
Other exterior features include Blackline specification exterior brightware, 22-inch black painted Speed alloy wheels, and self-levelling wheel badges. Opalite, a new paint colour, is available as an option. This light grey-green has a subtle copper effect that glows in bright sunshine.
The Continental GT and Convertible models feature Speed Edition 12 badging on the front fender. Meanwhile, the Bentayga and Flying Spur models carry Edition 12 badges on the rear quarter together with the existing Speed badge.
Edition 12 welcome lamps and illuminated treadplates welcome the driver and passengers to an interior space of hand-crafted exclusivity. All Edition 12 models are available with Bentley’s Speed colour splits. The main colour, Beluga black, can either be chosen as the sole upholstery colour or complemented by Brunel blue, Cricket-ball red, Linen or Orange. The veneer in each case is high gloss Grand Black.
Unique features of this limited edition include seats with Mulliner Silver piping and embroidered Edition 12 namestyle. The upper seat areas are quilted, and contrast stitched in a graduated three-colour ‘fade’ from Anthracite through Porpoise to Stratos. Quilted door panels are contrast stitched as well.
The organ stop air vents feature the numeral ‘12’ on the face of the control. Another detail worth mentioning is the Grand Black veneer facia facing the front seat passenger. It features the firing sequence of the W12 engine etched alongside an inlaid Speed Edition 12 badge.
As a bonus, each Speed Edition 12 customer will receive a precise 15 per cent scale model of the Bentley W12 block as a commemorative artefact for display on a desk, cabinet or shelf. The scale model W12 engines are cast using aluminium taken from a full-size W12 engine block and will serve as a permanent memento of one of Bentley’s most significant and powerful engines.
As only 120 examples of each of the four models will be produced, the Speed Edition 12 is set to become a rare and sought-after collectable. This is not just for their exclusivity, but also because they pay tribute to an engine that has powered Bentley’s cars – and its fortunes – for two decades.