Bentley's Beloved W12 Engine Will Live On

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CEO Hallmark's comments leave us with more questions, and hopes.

Last week, Bentley lifted the wraps off the Continental GT Speed. With its 6.0-liter-turbocharged W12 engine uprated to produce 650 horsepower, the Speed is the most powerful version of the Continental GT yet.

But with Bentley set to become an electric-only brand from 2030 and stakeholder VW halting production of new combustion engines, it seemed likely that the Continental GT speed could serve as a swansong for Bentley's beloved W12 engine, marking the end of an era. Speaking with Motor Trend during the Continental GT Sport's unveiling, CEO Adrian Hallmark has given us hope to be optimistic about the W12's future.

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"I wouldn't call it the swan song just yet. There's life in what is effectively a new engine," Hallmark said when asked if the Continental GT Speed will be Bentley's last model with a W12 engine under the hood. "This is the pinnacle of our brand-it's been the foundation of the Continental GT. It's the cleanest [W12] we've ever built and, with subsequent improvements, there will be more to do with twelve cylinders."

There is a hurdle Bentley will need to overcome to keep the W12 engine alive, however. Even before Bentley becomes a battery-electric only brand in 2030, its entire model lineup will only include plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars.

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Hallmark ruled out the possibility of developing a plug-in hybrid version of the W12 because of the extra weight this will add, which would adversely affect the performance and driving dynamics. Hallmark didn't confirm how it plans to preserve the W12, but it will need to be electrified in some form to make it more efficient and remain in production beyond 2026.

If not, Hallmark's comments suggest W12-powered Bentleys will remain in production until at least 2026. While Bentley is making a dramatic switch to electrification, the British automaker is also reportedly considering developing synthetic fuel to save the combustion engine.

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