It’s true that Volkswagen primarily produces road cars. But it’s not like road cars can’t make use of sophisticated and purring engines.
The W12 engine is older than you think. It goes all the way back to World War I when a British company called D. Napier and Son created the first W12 engine to be used in airplanes. That 900 HP engine was truly a phenomenon up until that time. But why was the Napier W12 the only notable W12 for seventeen years before Volkswagen built theirs?
Before Volkswagen, almost all the concept cars introducing W12 engines were forgotten. The thing is, this engine is complex. So complex that only a legendary multi-firm owning company like Volkswagen could work on it.
To produce a W12 engine that would be fit for compact cars and not compromise performance, the engineers had to amplify the complexities of this engine—resulting in creating one of the most powerful engines ever made. Let’s take a closer look at the W12 and why Volkswagen likes it so much.
Volkswagen’s First Experience With W12
Back in the ’90s, Volkswagen wanted to produce a car that would battle the best-selling S-Class Mercedes. The challenge, however, was the fact that they didn’t have the right engine. Up to that point, Volkswagen had already made the VR6 which was amazingly powerful but still not enough to beat an S-class Mercedes. So what they did was make use of their innovations up to that point to bring a new one into existence.
They put two VR6 engines together in a W formation, with four rows of three cylinders, and the W12 came to be. The best VW car equipped with a W12 was released in 2001, and the power of its engine was proved to the world on 23 February 2002, when the concept car broke records ripping around the Nardo Ring in Italy for twenty-four hours at a crazy average speed of 200.6 MPH.
Two Engines In One; It’s A Treat
We already know that the format of this engine is two VR6 motors merged to create a W12 layout. But that’s not all that there is to this engine’s power. Some minor alterations applied to this engine have played a significant role in enhancing its overall performance.
For example, each cylinder was bold out from 81 MM to 84 MM, allowing a bit more air into each cylinder. That’s where the slightly bigger boom comes from. This is how they improved the engine’s power and transformed it into something bigger than even two VR6s combined.
Clever Engineering Allows For No Compromise
The next small change that Volkswagen engineers made to the combo of the VR6s was to use aluminum-silicon alloy for the cylinder block instead of steel. This allowed for not only greater torsional rigidity but also better heat dispersion.
A block made out of aluminum-silicon alloy would be far lighter than one made out of steel. Volkswagen had already solved the problem of making engines smaller to fit compact cars with the VR6, and with the W12, they managed to make them weigh less, too.
Since the two banks of six cylinders were packed very tightly in this engine, the engineers had to find a way to remove the heat from the block. Besides changing the material from steel to something more suitable, they installed separate air filters and throttle bodies for each cylinder bank.
Surprising Cars Powered By W12
Not everyone would know, but some of the pretty standard-looking cars you see driving around have W12 engines under their hoods. It’s not like only sports cars should have engines as strong as a W12. This company’s name literally translates to “people’s car”; they want to deliver something to people that is worth their while.
The Audi A8 L is one of the most famous W12 equipped cars out there. The engine makes a mighty 493 HP, pushing the car to 62 MPH in just four seconds. Despite the crazy power and speed, the machine gives a smooth drive.
Another W12 powered vehicle is the Volkswagen Phaeton. This car is almost as big as a Range Rover. What fits a bulky car that wants to be fast better than a W12? Would any other engine be able to bring something as heavy as a Range Rover from rest to 60 MPH in less than ten seconds? The W12 does the job in six seconds!
Volkswagen isn’t planning on letting go of the W12 formula anytime soon. Far from that, It seems like we’re going to keep hearing the name of this engine along with brands like Audi and Bugatti for a long time.
The company said yesterday that it had received 30,000 reservations for the ID.3 1ST since it began taking online requests in May.
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