Engines on test: Bentley Continental GT 6.0 W12

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The thing about Bentley’s all-new Continental GT is this: getting behind the wheel to drive it, feeling the full silky yet stunningly ferocious power of the 6-liter W12 engine, you can’t help but feel you’re experiencing the last of a certain, very special breed.

I mean, for how much longer can Bentley trot out this 5,950cc 12-cylinder work of art without some form of electrification attached to it? (Let alone the ‘let’s-not-really-think-it’ possibility of retiring it in favor of the 4-liter V8.)

Getting the opportunity to drive the GT really must be something akin to seeing one of the last saber-tooth tigers in the wild. Just imagine being that person! Powerful, menacing and surprisingly quick, but also majestic, elegant and oozing in character – the GT 6.0 and the extinct saber-tooth really have a lot in common.

Despite its size and lack of care for the environment (although this W12 heart is a huge step forward over the previous 6.0’s emissions footprint, emitting a ‘mere’ 278g/km and averaging 12.2 l/100km (23.2mpg) thanks in part to cylinder deactivation technology) you instantly forget all that important green stuff and instead fall for the W12’s old-school charm. And when we say old-school, we don’t mean the engineering and technologies that have gone into the powertrain (which, for the record, are highly advanced), more that wonderful noise that comes from the exhausts and the way the 12 cylinders work beautifully to power what is a car of ultimate luxury.

Two parallel twin-scroll turbochargers help the 6.0 unit develop 635ps at 6,000rpm and a whopping 900Nm of torque from 1,350rpm to 4,500rpm. Despite its size, stature and substantial curb weight (2,244kg), the Continental is rapid, hitting 100km/h (62mph) from standstill in just 3.7 seconds. And top speed, for all you autobahn junkies, is 333km/h (207mph).

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Sam joined the UKi Media & Events automotive team in 2017, having recently graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in journalism. For the newest addition to the editorial team, stepping into the assistant editor position signalled the start of a career in the subject he studied. In addition to his work on UKi’s automotive titles, Sam also contributes to Stadia, writing content for the magazine and website.

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