Audi Abandons W12 Engine, New A8 Will Be Its Last Hurrah

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Audi will continue offering a big W12 engine as an option on the 2019 A8, but it also confirmed the current generation will serve as the motor’s swan song. Afterward, none of its models will boast 12 cylinders, at least for the foreseeable future.

While the matter is less pertinent for North America, as the largest powerplant currently available for the sedan stateside is the 4.0-liter TFSI, it’s always sad to see downsizing. But it doesn’t make much sense for Audi to stick with the Bentley Bentayga-sourced 6.0-liter W12 when it isn’t a big money maker for the brand.

Prospects don’t look particularly good for Audi’s V10, either. As the brand presses deeper into electrification, engine size will take a backseat to kilowatt hours and hybridization. In fact, the R8 already has a twin-turbocharged V6 in the works. That motor could end up be a replacement, rather than an option.

According to Car and Driver, Audi R&D head Peter Mertens was the one to break the W12 news to journalists. “We will not have the 12-cylinder forever,” Mertens explained at the Geneva Auto Show. “There are customers who really want the 12-cylinder and they are happy with it and are going to get it. But this is going to be the last installation.”

He went on to suggest that other engines would probably be cut from Volkswagen Group’s lineup as the manufacturer’s focus shifts toward electric vehicles. He also noted that regulatory pressures are heavier than ever and ensuring compliance with the tough new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedures won’t be easy. “Think of every engine and transmission combination that has to be homologated. That’s a hell of a job we are doing.”

Understandable, but unpleasant just the same. However, Mertens doesn’t want auto enthusiasts to fret; he says Audi will continue producing performance vehicles. They’ll just be electrified with more emission-friendly engines.

[Image: Audi]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Stuki Stuki on Mar 18, 2018

    Once suitably clogged up by contemporary light weight, low flow turbos, the engine layout largely ceases to matter much. All focus is shifted to make the need to, and benefit from, revving past the point where all engines more cylinderous than a Harley style V Twin, are largely indistinguishable anyway. Resulting in engines that are too asthmatic to sing up where their layout matter much. The 4.0 V8 "standard" engine (US) in the A8, is as notionally good as any out there. But man, is it dull compared to the NA V12 in the Rapide (and other Astons). If only the Rapide was a bit more sensible, a bit more suitable for appearing sensible, a bit less likely to roll over and play dead somewhere in Bumeff Nevada or The Yukon, and a bit less of a pain in the wallet....

  • Hreardon Hreardon on Mar 18, 2018

    Agree on the W12 being a bit of a dinosaur that really just added a lot of unnecessary mass and didn't provide much to the driving experience. I have always appreciated the A8 and the S-Class distinctly: the S-Class is pure opulence and presence and I love it for that. It's baller. The A8 has nowhere near the presence or feel of the S-Class, but it's a great car in its own right. The new model does what the previous one couldn't: it's the more modern (especially interior) antidote to the old world feel of the S-Class. Both great cars, but also guaranteed to appeal to completely different personalities.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.