Although the twin-turbocharged Volkswagen W-12 engine – an interesting design that essentially places two V-6 engines atop one another -- was originally designed and built in Germany, it’s about to become a little more British.
Earlier this week, Volkswagen announced its Bentley Motors subsidiary will now serve as the “center of excellence” for the W-12 engine. As such, Bentley’s facilities in Crewe, England, will increase production of the 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W-12, so it can provide engines to other Volkswagen group brands – notably Audi. Presently, Crewe builds about 5000 W-12s annually, but that figure will allegedly increase to 9000 by 2018.
After thirteen years of W-12 production, what better time to reflect on some of the more memorable vehicles we’ve seen utilize Volkswagen’s W-12 powerplant? We’ve rounded up five of our favorites.
1991 Audi Avus Quattro ConceptSixteen years before the R8 hit the roads, Audi teased the idea of building a modern supercar with the wild Avus Quattro concept. Styled by a young J Mays, the all-aluminum concept drew comparisons to the pre-war Auto Union grand prix cars, thanks in no small part to its supple curves, long wheelbase, and polished aluminum skin. The concept’s powertrain was equally wild: a 5.6-liter W-12, which was supposedly capable of producing 509 hp at 5800 rpm and 398 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. Unlike Volkswagen’s later W-12 engines (along with its production W-8 and W-16 engines), this early W-12 effort was a true W-shaped block, complete with three banks of four cylinders.
Volkswagen W12 Syncro/ Roadster/ Nardo ConceptsVolkswagen’s push to move upmarket included W12-powered variants of its Touareg SUV and Phaeton luxury sedan, but neither was as audacious as the brand’s W12 supercar project. The original concept, styled by ItalDesign and known as the W12 Syncro, debuted at the 1997 Tokyo auto show. The midengine sports car boasted a 420-hp, 5.6-liter W-12 engine, which was essentially made by laying two VR6 engines atop one another. A roofless red roadster variant debuted a few months later at the 1998 Geneva auto show.
In 2001, Volkswagen rolled out an updated version of the W12 coupe. Now known as the Nardo, the orange car boasted a 6.0-liter W-12 good for 591 hp and 458 lb-ft of torque, and allegedly capable of 0-62 mph times of 3.5 seconds.
Its new name was fitting, as a modified W12 Nardo set a 24-hour endurance speed record at Italy’s Nardo test circuit, where it covered roughly 4810 miles at an average speed at just over 200 mph.