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Bentley farewells W12 with Speed Edition 12

After 20 years’ service, the 6.0-litre 12-cylinder mill is being farewelled in style


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10 May 2023

IN 2003, Bentley’s W12 engine heralded a new era for the company as it introduced its first all-new model, the Continental GT, under Volkswagen Group ownership. Now, as stricter emissions rules catch up with the aging giant, the petrol-fuelled W12 is to be farewelled – going out with a level of style befitting its monumental presence.


This week, Bentley has announced a number of Speed Edition 12 models as the last to feature its twin-turbocharged W-formation 6.0-litre engine. Fittingly, it says the external features of the special editions are “subtle, yet carefully curated” to make the models “instantly recognisable to those in the know”.


Bentley’s W12 unit was designed to be 24 per cent shorter than an equivalent vee-configuration 12-cylinder, lending obvious packaging benefits in all applications with no compromise in power, torque, efficiency, or refinement. Over the past 20 years the unit’s output has increased by 37 per cent in terms of power and 54 per cent in torque, along with a significant 25 per cent in emissions output.


In the Speed Edition 12 models, the unit produces 511kW between 5000 and 6000rpm and 900Nm from 1500 to 5000rpm.


Among the distinctive exterior features of the commemorative models are silver-painted brake calipers – which are not available on any other Bentley. Continental GT and Convertible models feature Speed Edition 12 badging on the front guards, while Bentayga and Flying Spur models carry Edition 12 badging on the rear three-quarter panel alongside the existing Speed moniker. Each vehicle also features a numbered plaque on the engine cover.


Other features include Blackline specification exterior brightware and 22-inch black painted Speed alloy wheels with self-levelling badges, while a new paint finish, dubbed Opalite – a light grey-green with subtle copper effect – is available as an option.


Inside, the Speed Edition 12 models feature welcome lamps and illuminated treadplates, with colour splits including Beluga Black as the primary (and available as a monotone) with Brunel Blue, Cricketball Red, Linen, or Orange contrasts. The veneer is each case is high gloss Grand Black.


Further unique features of the Bentley Speed Edition 12 models include Mulliner Silver piping on the seat upholstery and embroidered Edition 12 namestyle, quilted seat uppers with contrasting three-colour ‘fade’ from Anthracite through Porpoise and Stratos. The door cards are also quilted with contrasting stitchwork.


The famed organ-stop air vents are also unique to the Speed Edition 12, featuring the numeral ‘12’ machined from solid on the face of the control, while the veneer fascia fronting the passenger seat is etched with the W12’s firing order, alongside an inlaid Speed Edition 12 badge.


As a final touch, customers will receive a 15 per cent scale model of the W12 engine block as a commemorative artefact. The model is made from the same aluminium as the engine itself and will “serve as a permanent momento of one of Bentley’s most significant and powerful engines”, an engine that is set to be replaced by hybridised power in the very near future


Just 120 of each of the four models will be produced, ensuring what the British marque says is “a rare and sought after tribute to an engine that has powered the company’s cars – and its fortunes – for two decades”.


Local availability and pricing for the Bentley Speed Edition 12 range has yet to be confirmed.

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