In a move which will doubtless raise a number of eyebrows in the Stuttgart region of Germany, Bentley has announced that it intends to be the ‘last manufacturer of 12-cylinder engines in the world’.
In the near future its W12 powerhouse will receive direct fuel injection, which is likely to extend its life considerably and enable it to meet any forthcoming emissions standards which could otherwise threaten its existence. In fact, not only is it surviving, but it’s set to become far more popular with the advent of the Bentley SUV, which should see the current 5000 units produced each year rise to 9000.
Other famous 12-cylinder producers are Mercedes Benz and Ferrari. Whilst to some the idea of not being able to buy a V12 Ferrari would be herecy, Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer aside from Bentley to publicly nail its colours to the 12-pot mast. Whether it’s as steadfast as Bentley in its commitment remains to be seen.
Whatever the number of years left for the W12, it won’t last anything like as long as the Rolls-Royce/Bentley V8 which, 55 years after its introduction, is still going strong in the Bentley Mulsanne. They’re even going to produce a ‘Speed’ version next year!