Bentley is also putting a damper on fans of multi-cylinder engines. W12? That was once. But although those interested in Bentley don’t have to worry about the well-maintained drive type, the crowning twelve-wheeler will be missed. ntv.de went on a farewell tour.

What is going on at Volkswagen? Why is the company that brings together such illustrious brand names under one roof (Bentley, Bugatti or Lamborghini) cutting off the noble twelve-cylinder engine so much earlier than it actually should? Is it the image (CO2 issue and stuff)? Or is it profit?

You have to get used to the matt finish.  But elegant is different. You have to get used to the matt finish.  But elegant is different.

You have to get used to the matt finish. But elegant is different.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

Yes, the eight-cylinder will probably live on for a few more years. But fans of well-groomed humming will still find it difficult to exchange the ultra-quiet and acoustically and mechanically uniform running for an almost rustic rumble. Ferdinand Piëch would probably turn in his grave if he realized that the end of the W12 was a foregone conclusion. The technically complex but compact concept is probably the work of the engineering genius – possibly inspired by the legendary W18 aircraft engine from the Italian blacksmith Isotta-Fraschini, founded in 1900.

So if you’ve just sold your company, got a hefty life insurance payout or won the lottery – try to find a way to get your hands on a Bentley W12. Visit your nearest Bentley dealer or browse the internet listings.

In 2024, the length of 5.32 meters is almost no longer state of the art. Even the Korean Genesis G90 is longer. In 2024, the length of 5.32 meters is almost no longer state of the art. Even the Korean Genesis G90 is longer.

In 2024, the length of 5.32 meters is almost no longer state of the art. Even the Korean Genesis G90 is longer.

ntv.de also gave itself the W12 pleasure, at least for a short time. The press department had once again asked for a test drive in the four-door Flying Spur sedan – an offer that you can’t refuse. At least that applies to car enthusiasts. The Flying Spur Speed ​​is one of the last opportunities to enjoy the twelve-cylinder drive culture at Bentley. Many of them actually no longer exist, but at least there are still some if the brand website is to be believed.

W12 exudes the charm of the special engine

Without any chrome, the Flying Spur looks sportier.  But also in style? Without any chrome, the Flying Spur looks sportier.  But also in style?

Without any chrome, the Flying Spur looks sportier. But also in style?

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

Ha! I can hear them complaining again in my mind’s ear, the moral do-gooders who accuse a small fan base of smooth mechanical running with a penchant for fuel consumption of eternal yesterday because they are not 100 percent convinced of electrically powered mobility. It’s not about that at all. The thought of many cylinders dancing under the hood and corresponding to the hopping of the intake and exhaust valves in a finely balanced rhythm can make you happy. Those with a nerd level below enjoy the nobility that the six-liter engine conveys via acoustics in a way that an electric engine will never be able to.

Would you like a little group? Paired with the elemental force of 900 Newton meters of torque, this Bentley gets off to a fiery start. Perhaps not quite as smooth as it used to be with the automatic torque converter – now there is an eight-stage double coupler on the trigger, which the so-called modular standard drive system – yes, difficult word – brings with it. The most modern vehicles are also based on this, such as the Porsche Panamera or, to a higher degree, even the candidates Porsche Taycan or Audi E-Tron GT.

The “Flying B” on the hood is always at the start and can move forward at 333 km/h if desired. The “Flying B” on the hood is always at the start and can move forward at 333 km/h if desired.

The “Flying B” on the hood is always at the start and can move forward at 333 km/h if desired.

And that’s why such advanced features as all-wheel steering or roll compensation are no longer available. They bring agility to the 5.32 meter long and 2.4 tonne luxury liner. So don’t get me wrong, lateral performance is not the issue here. What’s even more impressive is how brutally and smoothly the luxury sedan pushes (3.8 seconds to 100 km/h) and – equipped without a limiter – accelerates until the air resistance stops. Or is it the engine speed? Or the tires? We don’t know for sure, but the Brit runs 333 km/h, which only Alpina offers in the four-door range.

The air-suspended Flying Spur has something sporty about it

Only the finest in the Bentley: lots of carbon and leather exude nobility.  And there is plenty of display for the younger generation. Only the finest in the Bentley: lots of carbon and leather exude nobility.  And there is plenty of display for the younger generation.

Only the finest in the Bentley: lots of carbon and leather exude nobility. And there is plenty of display for the younger generation.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

However, the mixture at Bentley is completely unique. Here the high-tech armchairs with ventilation and massage are a little more padded, the ambience is a little more luxurious and the space is a little more extravagant. And the prestige is a little greater. So who needs it? However, the air-suspended Flying Spur also has a sporty component that perhaps seems a bit out of place here and there, if you want to put it that way. The all-wheel drive could roll a little more smoothly over transverse joints, but even in the most comfortable mode it remains rather taut. Doesn’t matter. After all, the music plays under the hood.

Whether the red cushions are mass compatible may be an open question.  However, the excessive legroom is definitely compatible with tall people and high levels of travel activity. Whether the red cushions are mass compatible may be an open question.  However, the excessive legroom is definitely compatible with tall people and high levels of travel activity.

Whether the red cushions are mass compatible may be an open question. However, the excessive legroom is definitely compatible with tall people and high levels of travel activity.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

Now the question remains as to how one can console oneself about the twelve-cylinder engine being no longer available. Maybe with a look at the brand’s history, where you won’t even find the full dozen pots. Four, six and eight-cylinder engines have determined the brand’s engine portfolio for many decades, so will the Bentley brand end with a four-cylinder again? Not quite, because the British would rather get rid of the combustion engine straight away before units that are acoustically unexciting go under the sheet metal. The brand will ultimately become purely electric by 2030.

And anyone who has problems with this can slowly wean themselves off with numerous plug-in hybrid models. There are currently (at least historically correct) six pots here, and with a bit of logic you would have to figure out that this concept also works in combination with an eight-cylinder. Especially since the platform allows it – the Porsche Panamera provides the steep template.

If you still want the W12, rest assured: it’s not out of the world. There are enough vehicles available – the only problem that remains is organizing the sum, which is estimated to be somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 euros. Anyone who has this option will hardly complain about the fact that this Bentley sometimes consumes 15 or 20 liters of super, although it can even use less than 10 when driving moderately.

I would like to make another bet. The final drive units of the Continental models, which also include the Flying Spur, will be more powerful than the current W12. And maybe bang. Can that ultimately be the consolation for the W12 farewell? Somehow I have a feeling of déjà vu: Jaguar also celebrated saying goodbye to the twelve-cylinder, that was at the end of 1996. Back then there was also an eight-cylinder as a replacement. Enthusiasts have also learned to love him. Let’s see. In any case, I will miss the W12. Goodbye.

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