“From my cold dead hands.” -Karl Benz.
As the pool of automakers that haven’t backed down in the face of steep fuel economy regulations shrinks, there’s one important question that remains. Will the V12 engine be around much longer? The exotic power plant is already a rare breed for reasons that don’t include fuel economy (practicality and reliability being a two reasons), but automakers like Lamborghini and Aston Martin have pledged to hold on to their twelve pot units for as long as legal loopholes allow it to be possible.
Mercedes has just joined this group of automakers, or at leas that’s what Mercedes-Benz Cars divisional board member Ola Kallenius told The Drive in a recent interview. "The V-12 is around for the foreseeable future,” said Kallenius. "I don't see that going away quickly.” Right off the bat it’s worth asking why Mercedes is even pursuing this avenue. Its range-topping AMG G65 and AMG S65 models, both equipped with twin-turbo V12 power plants, make less power than the twin-turbo V8 AMG G63 and AMG S63 models that they outrank. Besides, it's not like Mercedes’ twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 is having a horsepower crisis, with the AMG division having extracted 600 horses from it in the latest AMG E63 S.
According to Kallenius, it has nothing to do with horsepower since apparently there are more important things in life than that. He explains that it’s all about the customers. Kallenius tells a story of a small select group of loyal AMG customers who won't even sit in a Mercedes for a test drive unless it’s powered by a V12. "It is a small clientele of connoisseurs that love V-12s," he said. "In some markets for some customers, that V-12 is still the ultimate, and that's what they want...so we will cater to that clientele with a very capable V-12 for the foreseeable future.” It could be an ego thing, but whatever the case Mercedes is hellbent on keeping their business.
If anything, it gets the endorsement of the world’s wealthier car buyers by doing so. Besides, the Silver Star has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to save average corporate fuel economy numbers lower in its lineup so that it can splurge them on V12 customers that'l pay any price to get their way. Just look at the upcoming AMG CLS53, what will become the first hybrid AMG model, if you need any assurance that Mercedes can save fuel anywhere in its lineup in order to keep clinging to its V12s.