Once upon a time, automakers weren’t held back by safety, emissions, or fuel economy regulations. They were allowed to run wild with their imagination and fit massive engines to their cars. That’s why Ferraris, Lamborghinis, BMWs, Jaguars, and Mercedes-Benzes all stuffed 12-cylinder engines in their most powerful and luxurious cars. Unfortunately, because of modern regulations, automakers have had to produce smaller engines with less cylinders and more turbochargers. When things started to go sideways, 12-cylinder engines were the first to go.
That makes 12-cylinder cars incredibly rare and expensive. There aren’t many 12-cylinder cars on the market, but if you’ve got the budget for them, they’re out there. Relics of the past, dinosaurs compared to modern vehicles, and overindulgent in nearly every way possible, these 12-cylinder
Grand tourers don’t get much prettier or as capable as the Aston Martin DB11. Unfortunately, if you want a V12 engine, you’ll have to go with the range-topping AMR trim. Those last three letters indicate that it’s the hardcore model, standing for Aston Martin Racing. What you get with the DB11 AMR is a twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12 engine that makes 630 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That results in a zero-to-62 mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 208 mph. With the V12, you’ll certainly complete your cross-country journey quickly.
If you’re looking for a powerful V12 engine in an Aston Martin, look no further than the DBS Superleggera. Meant to be a more track-focused version of the DB11 and carrying the historic Superleggera name that means lightweight in Italian, the DBS Superleggera’s gorgeous bodywork features a large amount of carbon fiber. Additionally, the engine, which is the same one that’s found in the DB11, has been massaged to make more power. The turbocharged 5.2-liter V12 generates a stout 715 horsepower.
Say what you will about the Bentley Bentayga, the brand’s first SUV with its odd name, but the model gives consumers exactly what they’ve been yelling for – a high-riding, ultra-luxurious vehicle. While the Bentayga is available with a V8, a diesel, and a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the most impressive engine is the twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12. Even in the massive land yacht that is the Bentayga, the engine helps the SUV get to 60 mph in a claimed 3.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 187 mph. Not bad for an opulent brick.
Part grand tourer, part sports car, the latest Bentley Continental GT is the most capable version of the nameplate to date. While other two-door luxurious coupes and convertibles have been discontinued recently due to a lack of interest, the Continental GT continues to be the go-to choice for everyone from starting athletes to CEOs. As with previous years, the Continental GT is offered with two engines, one of which is a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine rated at 626 horsepower. You’ll undoubtedly be enjoying the luscious cabin too much to simultaneously enjoy the performance, but there’s plenty of both to go around.
BMW doesn’t offer a full-blown M version of the 7-Series sedan, which is a shame, but what it does offer is a massive V12 engine in the M-badged M760i xDrive. The large luxury sedan is the only vehicle in BMW’s lineup to come with a 12-cylinder engine and boy is it a good one. The turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 cranks out 601 horsepower. Despite the M760i xDrive’s gargantuan size, it can get to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Also, for what it’s worth, the M760i xDrive is the cheapest vehicle on this list.
I’ve always had a fondness for Ferrari’s V12-powered monsters. There are two trains of thought with Ferrari’s V12 engines – they either go in track-focused monsters or large supercars that can act as touring vehicles. With the Ferrari 812 Superfast, it’s the latter. The 6.5-liter V12 engine in the 812 Superfast produces 789 horsepower, making the supercar superfast – sorry, I couldn’t help myself. The way the engine sounds and revs out to 8,500 rpm is also astonishing.
If you want a traditional four-door sedan from Ferrari, sorry, you’re out of luck. Ferrari doesn’t do sedans, but what it does do is the hatchback-like GTC4Lusso. While it’s not as pretty as other Ferraris because of its bulbous rear end, the GTC4Lusso can do something others can’t – hold up to four people. The hatchback also has an impressive amount of cargo capacity, easily being able to hold four medium-sized bags of luggage. When the time comes to put the hammer down, the GTC4Lusso’s 6.3-liter V12 engine roars into life with 680 horsepower.
The newest entry on this list, and arguably the most exciting, is the Gordon Murray T.50. While the latest supercar on the market has a lot of cool details, like a central seating position, an electric fan for increased downforce, and a Vmax mode, the naturally-aspirated V12 has to be one of the supercar’s better features. Unlike every other car on this list, the T.50’s engine is paired to a six-speed manual transmission. Additionally, the V12 makes 654 horsepower and revs all the way up to 12,100 rpm. With a limited production run of just 106 units, you’ll probably never see one of these in real life, but just knowing that it’s out there is a reason to rejoice.
Lamborghini has always saved its V12 engines for its largest, most absurd, and most expensive vehicles. The flagship Lamborghini Aventador is the last of the old-school supercars. As wide as a barn, as flashy as alligator shoes, the Aventador is the kind of vehicle people buy to stand out. There are several available trim levels with the Aventador, but all of them come with a 6.5-liter V12 engine. In the base S model, the V12 is good for 730 horsepower, while the SVJ is rated at 759 horsepower. Better yet, you can also get a Roadster to enjoy the sound of the V12 more.
Mercedes-AMG used to offer quite a few V12-powered cars, but it’s since moved on to its now-ubiquitous twin-turbocharged V8. Now, if you’re looking to get a V12 with a Mercedes-Benz badge that’s new from the factory, you’re forced to go with the high-end Maybach S650. The luxury sedan features a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that’s assembled by the folks at AMG. With 621 horsepower and an impressive 738 pound-feet of torque, the luxury sedan that weighs more than 5,200 pounds can get to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds while the driver gets a massage.
Absurdly expensive, insanely beautiful, and immensely capable, if the Pagani Huayra didn’t have four tires and turn signals, it would be more spaceship than hypercar. The Huayra competes against the likes of Bugatti and Koenigsegg with a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 from Mercedes-AMG. Unlike in cars from Mercedes, Pagani’s monster puts out 730 horsepower in coupes, 764 horsepower in Roadsters, 789 horsepower in the BC, and 791 horsepower in the BC Roadster. Regardless of the engine, the Huayra certainly lives up to its namesake of being the God of Wind.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a direct competitor to the Bentley Bentayga. With the Bentayga getting a W12 engine, it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see Rolls-Royce offering a V12 in its massive SUV. The standard V12 engine in the Cullinan is a twin-turbocharged 6.7-liter unit that produces 563 horsepower. Somehow, if you’re the type of person that thinks 563 horsepower isn’t enough, the Cullinan Black Badge comes with a tuned version of the engine that makes 600 horsepower.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is one of the few convertibles on the market that’s available with a V12 engine. While the majority of vehicles are SUVs, supercars, or luxury sedans, the Dawn lets incredibly well-to-do consumers enjoy the opulence of some of the finest materials on the planet, along with unlimited headroom. There’s also the convertible’s gorgeous design. The 6.6-liter V12 engine in the Dawn is rated at 563 horsepower or 593 horsepower in the Black Badge variant. Sure, the Dawn can get to 60 mph in roughly 4.5 seconds, but that’s missing the point. This is a silky-smooth luxury convertible that’s meant to cruise up and down the coast.
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