Never knowingly underpowered, Bentley's W12 "has much more to give" say the engineers
In the wake of the launch of the fastest ever production Bentley to the world's motoring press in Germany this week, the company has hinted that an even more powerful version of its W12 engine could be on the way. The new Continental GT Speed uses a 625hp version of the 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged unit to power it on to a top speed of 205mph, but a senior Bentley powertrain engineer confirmed, "the W12 has much more to give."
Engine test regime is brutal to say the least
Despite being the fastest Bentley ever, the new Speed isn't the most powerful Continental GT to date. The 2009 Supersports - based on the pre-facelift model - was marginally more powerful at 630hp. A Supersports version of the latest Continental GT could see that figure rise towards 650hp. Even in 630hp guise the W12 unit develops 105hp/litre, suggesting that there's capacity to extract more power without harming reliability or drivability.
Indeed, engine reliability is a priority for Bentley. One of its durability tests for the W12 unit involves four 100-hour sessions at full throttle. That's the equivalent of nearly 20,000 miles (32,000km in new money) at over 200mph. Another is the scuff test, in which the engine is wound up to the rev limiter 100 times within 30 seconds of a -10 degree centigrade ambient temperature start.
The W12 engine and the Continental GT itself have been huge successes for Bentley. Since its 2003 launch, 26,000 examples of the two-door coupe have been shifted, helping to make Bentley the world's most prolific manufacturer of 12-cylinder engines.
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Impressive testing regime. I recall an old school Ferrari one that was slightly more agricultural where they'd leave the engine running at full throttle and head off for lunch.
jason61c12 Oct 2012
I'd love to see footage of them doing that to a new engine. Just shows how good modern tolerances are in engines!
robinessex12 Oct 2012
Mmmmmmmmm 400 hrs at full throttle. If I rememeber correctly, the Ford Cortina, cast iron crankshaft, was lifed at 72 hrs full throttle. I also seem to remember at Ford Tractors, a diesel engine had run for circa 5yrs at full throttle, stopping only for routine servicing.
Talksteer12 Oct 2012
I suspect they could get more like 900 bhp out of the engine with fairly mild modifications, wouldn't be particularly Bentley like though.
V8 FOU12 Oct 2012
Most impressive thing about these modern Bentleys is the depreciation! A 6/7 year old one has lost over £100K. Possibly something to do with the cheap pcp's they were/are offering....