A V8 engine is an 8-cylinder engine in which the pistons are arranged in a V configuration. A V8 engine is highly praised for its low-down torque figures, impressive power figures, and an overall smooth driving experience.
V8 engines have always been associated with the higher trim Mercedes models, especially the AMG models. One such engine is the AMG 156/159 V8, and not many other Mercedes V8s have ever been worshipped as much as this one. It is rather safe to say that the AMG 156/159 is the best Mercedes V8 of all time.
AMG 156/159 V8
The AMG 156/159 V8 is a 6.2-liter naturally aspired V8 engine that was offered in many Mercedes AMG cars between 2007-2014. This engine produced a horsepower output between 451hp up to 622hp in the SLS AMG Black Series, which was at the time the most powerful naturally aspired engine on the planet.
Early versions of this engine did not fare well as they had many different problems, flaws, and defects which even resulted in a class-action lawsuit. But, after Mercedes managed to iron out all the problems, the AMG 156/159 was ready to steal the show, and a couple of years later, it sure did.
The engine of the Black Series
In 2011, Mercedes released one of the best AMG creations of all time, the C63 Black Series. The C63 BS was and still is a highly sought-after car, and many believe that this very car is the best German performance sedan of all time, even beating out the greatest BMW M cars.
The reasoning behind such a great legacy is undoubtedly the engine, and what an engine it was. A 6.2-liter naturally aspired V8 producing 510hp and 620Nm of torque, paired with a Mercedes 7-speed gearbox. The car could sprint 0-60mph in about 4 seconds, which was and still is an impressive figure for a family car.
The AMG 156/159 V8 was also used in many Mercedes race cars, especially the GT3 cars. But the greatest rendition of this engine was the beating heart of the legendary Mercedes SLS Black Series. This engine is a true tribute to automotive engineering, and due to the downsizing and forced induction, engines such as these will never be made again.
Mercedes Benz M178 V8
After the discontinuation of the AMG 159, Mercedes was faced with a rather demanding task at hand. How to improve on such a legendary engine in times where engineers are limited by the ever more restricting car emissions regulations? But rest assured, Mercedes engineers would find a way.
And they certainly did with the M178 V8 engine. The M178 V8 is currently being offered in many AMG models in the same way the AMG 159 was. This engine is a more compact 4.0-liter V8 with two turbos strapped onto it, also a classic V configuration.
The first versions of these engines were able to produce 456hp in the Mercedes AMG GT, a car in which this engine debuted. After a while, Mercedes found a way to increase the power of this engine up to 630 horsepower in the most powerful Mercedes sedan of all time, the GT 63 S AMG 4 door coupe.
Compared to the AMG 159, this engine was able to produce more torque, more power, and a better fuel economy. For these reasons, you might think that the M178 is the best Mercedes V8 of all time, and from an engineering standpoint it might as well be.
But, as far as the regular car enthusiast is concerned, no Mercedes V8 ever stands equal to the AMG 159.
Flat plane crank M178
The latest hit from the AMG department is a completely revised M178 placed in the AMG GT Black Series. The difference between this engine and the engines placed in many other current AMG offerings is the fact that this engine is a flat-plane crank V8.
The advantages of this engine layout are a more compact, lighter, more responsive, higher-revving engine that’s more akin to a naturally aspirated engine. Engines like these are being used in the most exotic supercars such as many Ferrari V8s.
The AMG GT BS engine offers an astonishing 730 horsepower and 800Nm of torque. Mercedes even managed to break the Nurburgring record for the fastest production car in existence with this very engine.
Engines going forward
What is the future of the V8 engine?
V8 engines are somewhat of a dying breed because of ever more restrictive emissions regulations. In today’s day and age, manufacturers have to be compliant with the restrictions because of environmental reasons. Even though this is a positive thing for the planet, the sad consequence is that V8 engines will soon come to an end.
The future of the automotive industry is looking fondly towards newer means of transportation, such as electric and hybrid powertrains. And in this situation, the V8 seems a bit dirty and archaic.
What are the benefits of an electric engine compared to a V8, and vice versa?
First and foremost, an electric engine produces no harmful emissions after it’s placed in an automobile. Furthermore, an electric engine can produce 100% of its power from 0, and a V8 needs to spoil to a certain RPM to produce 100% of the power.
This translates into the fact that an electric engine offers a better acceleration time, but it does lack in the top speed department. An emotional connection to a V8 is also something an electric engine can’t match, as an electric engine does not offer any specific engine character nor it can produce any sound that could match a V8.
What’s the difference between a V12 and a V8 engine?
A V12 is a 12-cylinder engine arranged in a V configuration. A V12 is somewhat of a holy grail in the supercar and top of the line luxury car segment. V12 engines are usually the smoothest internal combustion engines and the power outputs of a V12 are simply astonishing.
A V12 is also a dying breed, as many car manufacturers are moving away from a V12 towards smaller engines. Mercedes used to offer a V12 in the largest S-class flagship, but they stopped offering a V12 in 2020 by releasing the S65 AMG Final Edition.
Many other car manufacturers are soon to follow as the V12 is only being offered in the most expensive cars out there, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Rolls Royce.