End of an era as Bentley axe iconic W12 engine


As the luxury carmaker shifts to a more sustainable model, production of its W12 engines will finish in April 2024.
Bentley GT Continental. Image source: Supplied

Rev-heads around the world are waking up to the news that luxury carmaker, Bentley, is ceasing production of its iconic W12 engine.

“When we first launched the W12 back in 2003, we knew we had a mighty engine that would propel both our cars and the brand forwards at speed.””

– Adrian Hallmark, Bentley CEO

The engine, which is a 12-cylinder piston engine arranged in a W configuration around a crankshaft, is only used by a handful of car makers around the world, Bentley being one of them. In fact, in 2003, a twin-turbocharged version of the W12 engine was produced to be used exclusively in the Bentley Continental GT and the Bentley Flying Spur.

W12 engines. Image source: Supplied

Production of the engine will cease in April 2024, by which point Bentley estimates more than 100,000 vehicles featuring the engine will have been handcrafted in the company’s Crewe factory.

After April 2024, Bentley’s entire model line will be available with the option of a hybrid powertrain.

But the company plans to send off the W12 engine with a bang – or rather, a roar. It claims it’s created the most powerful version of the W12 ever to store in 18 examples of the Bentley Batur, handcrafted by Mulliner. They claim it can reach 750 PS (PferdStarke, or horsepower) and 1,000 newton-metres of torque. (Torque tells you how an engine feels when you accelerate. In technical terms, a high torque means the shortest possible delay between the driver pressing the gas pedal and the engine responding).

W12 engines. Image source: Supplied

Bentley says the move is part of its journey towards sustainable luxury mobility.

“When we first launched the W12 back in 2003, we knew we had a mighty engine that would propel both our cars and the brand forwards at speed,” Bentley’s chairman and chief executive, Adrian Hallmark says.


“The tie has come to retire this now-iconic powertrain as we take strides towards electrification.”

The company says it is aiming to retrain and deploy all 30 of W12 engine craftspeople in the factory at Crewe. The existing W12 engine production facility will be converted to complete other Bentley engines used for the plug-in hybrid models.

Bentley’s Beyond 100 strategy intends to become “climate neutral end-to-end from 2030”. Its strategy will see it launch its first electric Bentley in 2025, and a new model every year thereafter.

The move is largely in line with the rest of the auto-making industry, as it transitions towards a carbon-neutral future. In 2021, Audi revealed it would stop manufacturing all diesel and petrol cars by 2033 as part of a pivot towards electric cars. From 2026, it’ll only launch all-electric car models.

Ford, General Motors, Volvo, Daimler Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover are also gearing up to go fully electric.

Forbes Australia issue 3 is out now. You can pick up your copy at all good newsagents or become a member here.

More from Forbes Life