Bentley is gearing up to replace its signature W12 engine with a more powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain (PHEV). The W12 engine currently powers the Speed versions of the Continental GT coupe and convertible, Bentayga SUV, and Flying Spur limousine. Bentley’s head of engineering, Matthias Rabe, hints that the new electrified powertrain will likely be based around a V8 engine.
- Expected to use 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from VW
- Continental GT PHEV spotted testing
- Bentley to offer a plug-in hybrid option across the range by 2025
New Bentley PHEV powertrain: details
Currently, Bentley has two existing PHEV powertrains – a 2.9-litre and a 3.0-litre V6, which power the Flying Spur and Bentayga, respectively. The former puts out 543hp whereas the latter produces 462hp. However, both of these power outputs are much lesser than the ones produced by the 6.0-litre W12 – 650hp in the Continental GT Speed and 740hp in the limited-run Mulliner Batur.
Speaking to our sister publication, Autocar UK, Rabe stated “I want all of our future plug-in hybrids to be more powerful than today’s 12-cylinder as I don’t want a reduction in power.”
Sibling brand Porsche, meanwhile, uses a PHEV powertrain that combines a 136hp electric motor with the Volkswagen-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, making 680hp in the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid and 700hp in the Panamera. Therefore, this could serve as the basis for the Bentayga, Continental GT and Flying Spur.
Bentley has also confirmed that it has begun testing the Continental GT convertible with the PHEV powertrain. Although the brand has not confirmed the ICE base of the powertrain in the testing mule, Rabe hinted it could be a V8, stating, “We've had fantastic six-cylinder engines in the past, but I think Bentley today is normally either eight-cylinder or 12-cylinder, and a hybrid combined with the eight-cylinder would be a perfect fit."
Bentley’s future plans
Prior to the arrival of the V8 PHEV model, Bentley is currently contemplating debuting a more powerful version of the W12 engine as a spectacular sign-off. Rabe stated that “The Batur showed we can go higher. It is good for up to 740hp, and, we will celebrate the last W12 for sure, but the final decision isn't made whether we commission something.” Bentley is also aiming to offer every model with a hybrid powertrain by 2025, when it will also launch its first all-electric model.