W12 versus V12: Why Bentley spells awesome with a W
When you think of fast cars, certain letters come to mind.
R, S, and you know, certainly V. But you know, sometimes.
Awesome is spelled with a W.
This of course is a Bentley Continental GT, a car known and loved across the world for ending the Rolls-Royce dominated era of the brand and welcoming in the beginning of a reclamation of the original Bentley spirit.
We're here in the north of Sweden to try out on some challenging snowy roads but also to talk about the very specific part of the car, it's engine.
That W12 was then and is now a biturbo 6 liter affair kicking out anything up to 626ps in the top end GT speed and.
600 pounds [UNKNOWN] of torque.
But when you lay it side by side with some other of its B12 competitors, say the B12 Vantage or the Rolls Royce Rave, those numbers are pretty competitive.
So why the W12 configuration?
Why not B12?
Well, for that we have to go back to the 80s.
In the 80s, Volkswagen were trying to fix a problem, and that problem was how do you transversely mount a six cylinder engine in a front engine car that's been designed for four cylinders.
A V6 engine proves to be too wide to fit in the engine bay, so the VR six.
The engine was developed.
Our traditional V6 engine, as I'm sure you all very much aware, but that was too wide.
The VR6 engine however, has it's cylinder's put 15 degrees apart, making for a much, much narrower unit.
This you can fix transversely in a Golf or any other car that's been developed for four cylinders.
And you've got yourself a V6 in a four cylinder engine car.
Normally for cars that have a 12 cylinder engine, a V12 engine is what you'd expect.
But to make that, you take what looks like a V6 engine and you just double it in length.
That makes it incredibly long.
The amazing thing about the VR6 engine is that it's so narrow, that you can actually arrange two of those in a V configuration.
It's a V of Vs, a W. This means that the engine is about as wide.
It has a V12 engine.
It's about as long as a V8 engine and it allows the center of gravity to be pushed way further back in the car.
You can create a mid front engine car, because the engine is so short.
When the Bentley Continental GT launched back in 2003, the W12 engine was the only engine option available.
This car was built around this engine.
There is now, of course, also a V8 available, and it's a great engine.
It's got lots of grout.
But for me, you buy a Bentley for a couple of different reasons.
The Volkswagen Group have taken it in a new and exciting direction, away from the old Rolls Royce overlords.
The Continental GT is a far more sporty car.
Almost as sporty as anything they put out in the age of the Bentley boys.
And certainly beats anything under the Rolls-Royce era.
And this engine is part of it.
But still, if you're buying a Bentley, you want to combine that sportiness with a sense of refinement.
And that W12 engine, while delivering.
Delivering incredible power.
It's unbelievably smooth.
In an age where a V12 engine has been replaced by V8s and V8 engines are getting replaced by V6s, Bentley are still committed to making this W12 engine.
And why wouldn't they be.
It's a phenomenal piece of work.
The VW Group put this engine in a couple of different cars.
You can get it in an Audi.
You can get it in a Phantom.
But the genius of it is the fact that because the W12 engine is essentially built as two VR6 engines, an engine which, in itself, is mass produced, it means that the W12 engine can be mass produced.
Which is fantastic, because it means without having to commit too much tooling or too much expertise to a specific 12 cylinder.
Their engine the VW group can carry on developing this engine forever.
And that's good news.
The V12 engine was, of course, down to the amazing engineers at the Volkswagen Group.
But really, the driving force behind it actually getting implemented, is rumoured to have been Ferdinand Piech.
Now, as head honcho for the VW Group for a considerable amount of time, and.
The grandson of Ferdinand Porsche.
He has been incredibly influential at the Volkswagen Group.
He was inspired by an Italian W12 engine, a slightly different configuration but an almighty piece of work all the same.
Considering the fact that Ferdinand was behind the Volkswagen Phaeton, a W12 and the Veyron.
A W-configuration engine car.
It's not surprising, really, that these came into existence.
Demand has something for the W.
DW Group are the only manufacturers in the world making a W-12 engine right now.
And they use it in all of their cars that have a 12-cylinder setup.
But, superficially, though.
It just sounds bad, doesn't it?
I know it does to me.
And certainly it brings all kinds of emotions of some of the most exciting cars ever made.
But that's not the point of the W12 engine.
It's not about bragging rights.
It's not about prestige.
It's about efficiency.
I'm not talking fuel efficiency, I'm talking about power efficiency.
The most immense of power in the smallest amount of space for the best possible way to this fusion.
The W12 engine might lack the flashiness or indeed, the history of the B12 and V8, but it's one of those unique automotive treasures that might never be embraced by the mainstream but nevertheless, forms the heart of this amazing car.
Driving a Bentley is always an occasion but for me.
Driving one with a W12 is just perfection.