Audi A8 last to run with the W12 engine

Oddball engine will retain one exclusive use case

  • Image Credit: Audi
After 17 years on the market, Audi has sounded the death knell on the A8 W12. Audi R&D honcho Peter Mertens — the same exec who suggested the end of the R8 — told Car and Driver at the Geneva Motor Show that the new 2019 A8 "is going to be the last installation" of the 6.0-liter 12-cylinder. That won't affect our market since the Audi retired the W12 here in 2017, and the engine won't reappear in the 2019 model. Our top end will be the A8 60 with a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 making 460 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque. The W12 isn't dead yet — Audi gets the engine from Bentley, and Bentley has no plans to quit it.

Introduced to the market in 2001 for Europe and Asia in the first-generation A8, we didn't get the W12 until 2005, in the second-gen luxo-sedan. Back then, the oddball motor built up from the the VR6 in the Volkswagen Corrado made 444 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Today's Audi W12 stands at 585 hp and 627 lb-ft, detuned from the 633 hp and 620 lb-ft it makes in the Bentley Continental GT.

The executioner has booked a healthy bit of business at the VW Group recently, what with the coming end of the Beetle, the R8, and this application of the W12. Internal and external factors make it likely we'll be hearing that ax cleave a lot more metal, soon. The company's need to meet real-world emissions targets and the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), on top of spending on development for flashy EVs like the E-Tron GT, means slow-sellers — even halos — won't get much time to dither about. And according to C/D, the V10 could skip out before the W12 if the coming twin-turbo R8 V6 eats up all the V10's lunch.

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