A V12 is the holy grail of performance car engines as all the greatest supercars of all time use a V12 as their beating heart. However, a V12 is not only superior when it comes to performance, yet it is also highly regarded as the smoothest engine out there. That is why the world’s most comfortable cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom, also use a V12.
Only two Audi models used a V12 engine, the Audi Q7, and the Audi A8. However, the A8 uses a W12 engine which is similar to a classic V12, but not quite the same. On the other hand, the last-gen Audi Q7 is also available with a turbodiesel 6.0L V12 TDI which is one of the strangest, yet most ludicrous engines ever fitted on an Audi.
As mentioned, V12 engines are also commonly found in supercars and sports cars, but the Audi R8 supercar uses either a 4.2L V8 or a 5.2L V10. This means that the only two 12-cylinder Audis are the Q7 6.0L V12 and the Audi A8 W12 flagship sedan.
These two engines are inherently different as the one found in the Q7 is a unicorn and no other serial production car has ever used it. On the other hand, the W12 found in the A8 is also available with a few Bentley sedans and coupes.
Audi A8 W12 – The range-topping Audi flagship sedan
As previously mentioned, the W12 found in the Audi A8 is not a true V-configuration 12-cylinder engine as it uses two V6 engines trapped together. This is also a fairly unique way how VAG managed to develop a smooth and linear powertrain for the best luxury cars they offer.
The W12 found in the current generation of the A8 offers 585hp and 626lb-ft of torque. This W12 powertrain is rated at 6.0L and is only being used for comfort and smoothness. As mentioned in the beginning, 12-cylinder engines are incredibly smooth and that is why these are found in the range-topping luxury cars.
The BMW 760 is the range-topping BMW flagship sedan that also uses a V12 and it’s the same story as with the Mercedes S680. The W12 found in the A8 is also available with the Bentley Continental and the 4-door Flying Spur.
The last-gen Bentley Benteyga also used a W12 but the W12 was scrapped as it did not pass emissions regulations for the EU market.
Audi Q7 V12 TDI – A crazy Audi SUV
Audi is a German luxury sedan commonly known for making luxurious, yet conservative and potentially even sedate cars. Audi was never a brand that focused on making attention-grabbing cars, they were always more keen on subtle, technologically driven luxury with a small scent of lavishness.
However, the first-gen Audi Q7 6.0 V12 TDI is a completely different story and is now the only V12 diesel engine that Audi has ever offered. The TDI V12 was developed for racing purposes as the R10 Le Mans racer was designed and built around the V12 TDI engine.
Audi later decided it was a good idea to offer the Q7 family SUV with that very same engine which is not something you’d expect Audi to do, but we are oh so glad that they did. The 6.0L V12 offers 500hp and an even more ludicrous 730lb-ft of torque.
This was an era when the world economy was slowly taking a dive which means that a 6.0L V12 was not exactly the best engine you could go for. Either way, we are glad Audi did it as the V12 TDI in the Q7 is one of the most authentic engines of all time.
The essence of 12-cylinder engines – Why do they exist?
From a modern-day perspective, a V12 engine is unnecessary and overly excessive which begs the question why did anyone think that an engine twice the size and twice the weight of an already large 6-cylinder engine is a good idea for anything.
After all, most supercars are always focused on being as light as possible, and squeezing a gargantuan V12 is obviously a step in the wrong direction. However, a V12 is a flagship engine configuration and only the best cars ever used a V12 which does not necessarily mean that these cars can even be viewed from a more ordinary perspective.
These cars are made to excel in certain areas in which a smaller 6 or 8-cylinder engine simply can not. It’s almost impossible to imagine a range-topping Lamborghini without a V12 or a range-topping Rolls Royce without a V12.
A V12 is a statement as much as it is the smoothest engine you can buy. Furthermore, a V12 sounds glorious, especially in Ferrari and Lamborghini models. It’s safe to say that such sound and emotion can not simply be matched by smaller engines.
Is the Audi W12 A8 a good engine?
A W12 engine is as rare as a turbodiesel V12, and besides the A8 and a few Bentleys, no other car uses a similar engine. Bugatti designed the W16 engine found in both the Veyron and the Chiron in a similar manner by combining two V8s instead of two V6s as is the case with the W12.
This is a VW thing as no other car company does anything similar. All in all, the W12 found in the A8 is indeed a good engine for its purpose. It is quiet, refined, and smooth which are the three main characteristics of a true limousine-level 12-cylinder engine.
Is the V12 TDI in the Q7 a good engine?
The V12 TDI found in the Q7 is a great engine, but not for the reasons you might expect. This engine was never designed to be used in a daily driver as it is a true racecar engine. This means that it requires expensive maintenance a regular Audi Q7 owner is not willing to pay.
The 6.0L V12 TDI Q7 is a car all of us wish and dream of owning, but at the same time, none of us are brave enough to actually do it.
Are V12 engines going out of production?
V12 engines are slowly becoming scarce and many automakers are moving away from large displacement engines in general, especially V12s and V10s. It is yet unclear if we are ever going to witness a brand new V12 in the luxury car segment, but a V12 is a necessity for many of these cars, so we can’t tell for certain.
On the other hand, the brand-new EQS Mercedes has shown that an electric powertrain can actually be a lot smoother than even the smoothest of V12s which indicates that the most luxurious cars from the future are likely going to be electric.