The Mercedes V12 engine: the end of an era

Mercedes V12 engine
20.63K 0

It seems that the V12 engine, the symbol of prestige in a car, will disappear in the coming years. Mercedes and BMW will give up the noble V12 configuration. It seems the Mercedes v12 engine will dissapear when the new Mercedes S-Class will be launched in this autumn.

Almost all premium brands have or had a V12 engine: BMW, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Bentley (Ok, it’s a W12 but it’s still 12 cylinders), Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin.
But this prestigious object is on the verge of extinction due to increasingly stringent pollution rules.

From the first informations, the future BMW 7 Series will no longer have a v12. The N74B66  version with reduced power at 585 HP and maximum torque increased at 850 Nm is the latest evolution of the famous V12.
Although the future BMW 7 Series will launch only in 2022, the V12 engine will be taken out of production this summer.
Over 80,000 BMW 7 Series V12 units have been sold by BMW since 1987. 

Mercedes is in the same situation. The V12 engine lives the last months of its life in the Mercedes-Maybach S 650, Mercedes-AMG S 65, Mercedes-AMG S 65 Convertible and Mercedes-AMG S 65 Coupe.

The new luxury SUV Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic will have a 4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with 557 HP, which is the first sign that the Maybach luxury division is giving up the V12 engine.

The future Mercedes SL has already given up the V12 and the next generation will be developed by AMG and will have at most the 4-liter bi-turbo V8 under the hood.

In these conditions, it is hard to believe that Mercedes will keep a V12 engine only for the S-Class sedan, especially since, unlike BMW, the V12 engine is quite old.

Its architecture dates back to the mid-90s and today Mercedes has much more suitable alternatives to the V12 solution. The 4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine is almost as powerful, developing 612 hp in many Mercedes models compared to 630 hp in the V12 and in the Mercedes-AMG GT4 Door Coupe the V8 bi-turbo is even more powerful with 639 hp.

At the same time, the V8 is much more economical because it can be mated with the new 9-speed transmission while the V12 is coupled with the old 7-speed transmission which is the only gearbox in the Mercedes set that supports the enormous torque of 1,000 Nm.

In addition, the Mercedes-AMG S 63 is faster because it has a better power to weight ratio.

I was wondering a few years ago why Mercedes continues to produce this v12. Of course, many specimens went to Arab countries and China.
In 2014, the new bi-turbo V8 appeared, which was also installed under the hood of the S-Class at the 2017 facelift.

During a visit to Afflaterbach a few years ago I asked why V12 is still produced. And the answer was simple: because there are customers who want it. And those customers are not interested in the fact that the new S 63 accelerates by 0.2 or 0.3 seconds faster but want to enjoy the prestige of a V12. For them, only the number of cylinders matters.

For these customers neither the consumption matters nor the fact that the transmission is older and has only 7 gears.

For these customers, only the social status that a V12 gives matters, and if there are fans among them, then they may also be interested in the way the power is delivered which is unique to a V12. The available 1,000 Nm of torque at 2,300 rpm makes a Mercedes-AMG S65 accelerate like a TGV without feeling any effort.  But while an electric motor starts to cap as the speed increases, the V12 engine goes wild, with a torque of 1,000 Nm being constant up to 4,300 rpm.

From a technical point of view, the 6-cylinder in-line engine is the best balanced because it absorbs both first and second order vibrations. The same goes for a v12 that is just as well balanced.

The V12 Mercedes does not have the exciting and sharper sound of a V8, but it has a thicker and more pronounced tone that always announces to you that an enormous torque is always available.

Probably in the future, both Ferrari and Lamborghini will give up the V12 and there are rumors that the future Ferrari supercar will have a hybrid V6 engine but it is hard to imagine that Rolls-Royce and Bentley symbols of British luxury and prestige will give up the V12.