The successor to the iconic and long-serving Bentley W12 has been announced – complete with electrical assistance

Bentley is gearing up to show off its new and improved Continental GT, which for the first time since 2003 will do without its W12 calling card. Instead, a new powertrain called the Ultra Performance Hybrid V8 will take pride of place and help make the new car the most powerful road car ever to wear the Flying B badge.

The W12 will finally bow out in summer this year after a production run of 105,000 units in the last 20 years. Bentley claimed that its new ‘leading powertrain’ will be the most powerful produced in its 105-year history, all while delivering ‘four-figure torque over a wider plateau’ and an all-important CO2 figure of 50g/km.

The new powertrain is likely to be derived from others in the wider Volkswagen group and will see a V8 of as-yet-unconfirmed capacity (most likely 4.0-litres) paired with an electric motor and battery. An all-electric range of 50 miles is claimed, which in turn suggests plug-in hybrid technology at play.

The new powertrain will debut in the next Continental GT, which will do without a W12 option for the first time

The new powertrain will debut in the next Continental GT, which will do without a W12 option for the first time

The move to a flagship hybrid engine comes in the wake of the firm’s commitment to its Beyond 100 plan originally announced in 2020, which targets sustainability and ‘end-to-end’ carbon neutrality by 2030. 

While Bentley and its competitors have already committed to full-electric ranges – Bentley is set to be EV-only by 2033 and Rolls-Royce by 2030 – Bentley’s persistence with hybridisation is reflected by other brands, including Mercedes and Volkswagen, as EV enthusiasm cools slightly. 

Bentley’s fully-electric deadline was originally set for 2030 but was moved to 2033; the release of its debut EV was pushed back to late 2026 from 2025 owing to delays in the development of its new Volkswagen Group Premium Performance Electric powertrain, which in turn has delayed the arrival of other new electric Bentleys.

It’s bittersweet news for well-heeled internal combustion fans, then: the W12 may be another iconic engine lost to modern regulation, but there’s set to be a few more years of petrol-powered Bentleys than originally planned.