Is the V12 engine on the way out? Well, a number of manufacturers have already moved away from the twelve-cylinder unit, seemingly being forced into downsizing by increasingly stringent emissions regulations in some parts of the world. And more appear to be following.
So, how many examples are left in South Africa? Just seven V12 engines remain on the local new vehicle market (plus a handful of W12 derivatives), employed across a total of 23 models. How long they’ll remain on the market, however, is anyone’s guess.
Let’s take a closer look at the V12 engines still on offer in South Africa…
1. Aston Martin's 5,9-litre V12
The Gaydon-based brand still offers its naturally aspirated 5,9-litre unit in as many as four models in South Africa, producing 410 kW/620 N.m in the case of the R3,7-million Rapide S and 433 kW/630 N.m in the Vanquish S Volante, Vanquish S Ultimate coupé and Vanquish S Ultimate Volante. Reports suggest the next-generation Rapide will ditch its V12 in favour of electric power, while the Vanquish is due to be replaced by the soon-to-be-revealed DBS Superleggera…
2. Aston Martin's 5,2-litre V12
Of course, Aston Martin also offers a newer, smaller-displacement V12 engine, turbocharged to produce 447 kW and 700 N.m in the R4,1-million flagship of the DB11 range. Here, the burly powerplant sends its oomph to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, resulting in a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 3,9 seconds and a top speed of 321 km/h.
3. BMW and Roll-Royce's 6,6-litre V12
The M760Li xDrive (also offered in “Excellence” trim) employs the Bavarian brand’s turbocharged 6,6-litre V12, tuned to deliver 448 kW and 800 N.m (although it is apparently facing the axe). This, despite the luxury barge’s considerable heft, translates to a sprint to three figures in a claimed 3,7 seconds. With Rolls-Royce falling under the BMW Group banner, it’s no surprise that the British marque’s V12 is closely related to the one used in the M760Li. Indeed, the Westhampnett-based automaker employs the V12 in four offerings in South Africa: in the Ghost, Ghost Extended Wheelbase and Dawn, the engine makes 420 kW (although the torque outputs vary), while the Wraith gains peak figures of 465 kW and 800 N.m.
4. Mercedes-Benz's 6,0-litre V12
The Stuttgart-based automaker currently offers its turbocharged 6,0-litre V12 (although reports suggest it will soon bite the dust) in a total of six derivatives, including products from Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Maybach. Five of those (the SL65, S65 coupé, S65 cabriolet, S65 L and Mercedes-Maybach S650) offer the full-fat 463 kW and 1 000 N.m, while the S600 L (the cheapest car on this list at R2 641 782) makes do with 390 kW and 830 N.m. Interestingly, a 562 kW version of this mill, complete with various bespoke components, is used in the Pagani Huayra that became available in SA in late 2017.
5. Ferrari's 6,3-litre V12
The flagship V12-powered version of the GTC4Lusso (R6 440 800), which is the successor to the FF, uses a naturally aspirated 6,3-litre mill that churns out 507 kW and 697 N.m, directed to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The result is a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 3,4 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h.
6. Ferrari's 6,5-litre V12
While the GTC4Lusso employs the brand’s F140 ED engine, the 812 Superfast (R7 343 800) uses the F140 GA unit, which is a little larger in displacement at 6,5 litres. Peak outputs thus climb to 588 kW and 718 N.m, allowing the rear-wheel-drive 812 Superfast to hit three figures in a claimed 2,9 seconds before topping out at 340 km/h.
7. Lamborghini's 6,5-litre V12
Used in both the coupé and roadster versions of Lamborghini's Aventador LP740-4 S, this free-breathing twelve-cylinder engine sends 544 kW and 690 N.m to all four corners. While the coupé completes the obligatory dash to 100 km/h in a claimed 2,9 seconds, the roadster takes one-tenth longer.