They always say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and perhaps that’s now true for the Bentley W12 engine. The last one will be made in April as Bentley continues on its path to electrification; and after years of proclaiming the 4.0-litre V8 to be the engine to have where available, now it isn’t hard to find those admitting to how much they’ll miss the big 6.0-litre.
For some, the twin-turbo W12 was the only possible choice for a Continental GT or Bentayga as the largest, most powerful engine available. And even in less powerful installations than the recent GT Speed and 740hp Batur, it was a mighty powertrain, hugely torquey and with an unmistakeable soundtrack. Modern Bentley doesn’t really exist without that 12-cylinder engine. So it should be little surprise that it’s getting the proper Crewe send off, including the Edition 12 limited editions.
That being said, you don’t need a new Speed, or Batur, or Edition 12 to experience why the 6.0-litre is so admired. Heck, there are still £15k Continental GTs out there for the really brave, or 600hp+ Speeds for less than £30,000. A lot of W12 for the money. Arguably the engine has never found a better home, though, than in the current Continental GT. A lot has happened, to put it mildly, throughout the automotive world since its 2018 introduction, but nothing should detract from the Mk3 Conti GT as one of the best Bentleys ever made.
Pairing the W12 with a dual-clutch transmission worked wonders for responsiveness; a brand-new platform meant this finally drove how we’d always a Bentley super tourer would. The styling, though familiar, was now properly handsome rather than merely agreeable. And the interior was a revelation. It’s easy to be a bit blase about Conti GTs given their ubiquity, but this latest one really remains something very special. And even those less committed fans of the W12 must concede that the GT experience will lose something when production finally ends.
This one intrigues as an early 2018 car that’s a whisker over £100k; it is now possible to pay five figures for a third gen car, though it’ll have higher mileage than the 17k recorded here. We’re suckers for Newmarket Tan leather wherever it’s seen, and contrasts smartly here with the Onyx Black exterior. This Conti also benefits from the Bentley Rotating Display option (imagine having to go without it) and the Mulliner Driving Specification.
With 635hp, there’s precious little lost out in terms of pure power to the 659hp Speed. By the stats this is a 207mph Bentley, if speed really does matter - no V8 or EV will match that. It seems that interest in the W12 can only increase as its demise looms, even with so many out there. This one ought to serve as a reminder of the 6.0-litre’s charm very nicely indeed.
SPECIFICATION | BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT
Engine: 5,950cc, twin-turbocharged W12
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 635@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 664@1,350-4,500rpm
Top speed: 207mph
Year registered: 2018
Recorded mileage: 17,000
Price new: £159,100 (2018, before options)
Yours for: £104,995
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