The V12 engine is synonymous with supercars, from classics like the Lamborghini Miura and Countach to modern-day screamers like the Ferrari FF and Pagani Huayra. The McLaren F1 – a car universally considered one of the most lust-worthy machines of all time – made use of a 6.1-liter V12 provided by BMW that pushed out 618 naturally aspirated horsepower.

Though not a true successor to the iconic F1, McLaren's more recent MP4-12C makes 617 horsepower from just eight cylinders displacing 3.8 liters, albeit with the help of twin turbochargers. Such power capabilities have prompted McLaren managing director Antony Sheriff to proclaim, "The V12 engine is a thing of the past. The engine belongs in a museum."

We're not quite ready to archive away all thoughts of V12-powered supercars, but Sheriff has a point. V8 engines, even with turbochargers in tow, are easier to package than V12s and have significantly fewer moving parts, which is good for both power and efficiency. Sheriff suggests that even a V6 would be a possibility for future high-performance applications from McLaren.

And so, we leave this question to you, dear readers: Is the V12 engine a thing of the past? Take part in our informal poll below to voice your opinion.

Is the V12 engine "a thing of the past"?
Yes. Who needs cylinders when you can turbocharge? 3160 (22.6%)
No. A proper supercar deserve at least 12 cylinders. 5832 (41.7%)
I don't care, as long as it's fast. 4991 (35.7%)


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  • 71 Comments
      P
      • 2 Years Ago
      Like it or not, the blessed V12 is, in fact, on its way out. Too much internal friction, too much complexity, too expensive in perilously low-volume quantities, etc. It is an engineering anachronism in a world where the V6 and 4-cylinder is the future and even the V8 is in steady decline. I don't like this fact any more than you all (I've driven a couple Ferrari 12's that were life-alteringly good) but the world is changing and it's best to shrug, accept, and move on with the times than whine about it... As much as I want to join in on it. C'est la vie.
      rjstanford
      • 2 Years Ago
      The main advantage that high-cylinder low-displacement engines had was smoothness (and lightness of each piston). With those two advantages basically gone, I'm in complete agreement. Its novelty value, not really useful.
        tarheel91
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rjstanford
        V12s are also perfectly balanced and have constant exhaust flow. This helps in a number of ways. The real issue is that V12s are long. That means a longer, heavier crank and makes cooling and positioning more difficult.
      benzaholic
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seems like AMG keeps the 65 V-12 around just for the snobbery factor. It always has just a handful more HP and torque than whatever V-8 AMG calls a 63 at any given time, but gets more than a handful added to the selling price.
      scott3
      • 2 Years Ago
      With rules and regs the V12 will be very limited at best. Time for people to get over cylinder envey and just enjoy the power. I never thought I would give up my V8 engines but with my 300 HP Tubo 4 daily driver I could care less. Besides the 32 MPG highway driving it like I stole it is ok with me.
        ClementZ
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scott3
        300hp AND 32 MPG highway from a turbo 4? Mind me asking, what car do you drive?
          Matt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ClementZ
          If were talking stock probably an Evo or STI. Or with using factory parts, a Cobalt SS turbo with the GM stage kit or an SRT4 with the Mopar stage kits (stage 3 for the Neon and stage 1 for the Caliber). That would put all of these cars at 300hp (+/- 10 hp since each car/dyno is a little different) and 30mpg highway granted you kept it out of boost during your trip, while still being able to goose it every now and then. As for a 300hp turbo 4 that you can get 30mpg while driving like you stole it? I call bullshit, unless he went big turbo, those things will get mid 30s on the highway and that is only because the turbo doesn't spool until like 2000rpm before redline.
        stuckonthebridge
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scott3
        COULDN'T care less.
      dmal427
      • 2 Years Ago
      To paraphrase the Moody Blues, it's "A Question of Balance" As long as an I-6 or a V-12 are the most inherently balanced engines, there is a need for them.
      ghost03
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think there are others at McLaren who would be most upset to hear him say that. Fact of the matter is the MP4-12C and F1 are two completely different cars. I'm pretty sure Gordon Murray went to extensive effort to fit a V12 in the F1 specifically so that he would not have to use turbochargers (and thus muck up the linear throttle response on his otherwise perfect car). At the price point they were going for, I believe they could've more easily made a twin-turbo V8 with as much power. If a successor to the F1 is made, I believe it too will be a naturally aspirated V12, even if it makes little more power than the MP4-12C's twin-turbo V8, leaving Mr. Antony eating his words.
      Durishin
      • 2 Years Ago
      McLaren? Really? Um, they purchase engines - recently from Mercedes. WTF do they know about it? They may be right, but I would ask di Montezemolo if I really wanted to know.
        Mark Antar
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        The 12C's engine is the M838T, and it has been designed and developed by McLaren in partnership with Ricardo. Mercedes only supplies McLaren with F1 engines, but nowadays, McLaren Automotive has nothing to do with Mercedes.
      Redline
      • 2 Years Ago
      V12's are as iconic as V8's or even v10's in supercars. It's like restricting yourself to one flavour of ice cream.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      RWD
      • 2 Years Ago
      The real shame is, turbocharged engines (particularly V8s) lack so much in the sound department. The MP4-12C and M5 come to mind, incredible performance, but they just don't give me goosebumps on a fly-by (especially the M5). The Zonda's sound vs. Huayra? That's exactly where turbos get us... but it's unavoidable and completely necessary. Sadly, cars that sound good are becoming a thing of the past.
      RodRAEG
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm still waiting for someone to make another Flat-12. Damn that would be sweet.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RodRAEG
        [blocked]
      MANARC100
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would love to have a road ready museaum full of V12's.
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