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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
audi abandons w12 engine new a8 will be its last hurrah

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]

Join the conversation
2 of 29 comments
  • 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.

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.