We’ve seen everything from supercars to luxury sedans propelled by twelve-cylinder engines. But sport-utility vehicles?
Yes, those, too. It’s hardly what you might call “commonplace,” but it’s been done. Not just once or twice, and not just in concept cars (or trucks, as the case may be) though there have been a handful of those as well.
In fact, there are twelve-cylinder SUVs you can go out and buy today, several more that have come and gone in recent years, and at least one more on its way. Scroll down for a rundown of our favorite twelve-pot high-riders.
Billed as the world’s fastest, most powerful SUV, the Bentley Bentayga launched just last year… exclusively with twelve-cylinder power, at least initially. Up front sits a brand-new version Bentley‘s signature 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12, driving 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. The result is a 0-60 time of just 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 187 miles per hour. Not too shabby for a vehicle weighing over 5,600 pounds. Of course that much power doesn’t come cheap: it’ll cost you over $200,000 to put one in your driveway.
Mercedes is one of the few automakers still producing twelve-cylinder engines, and its AMG performance division has its very own. The 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 is even more potent than Bentley’s dubya, churning out 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. The engineers in Affalterbach have installed it in the SL roadster and various versions of the S-Class (and the CL coupe before it) and a few years ago slotted it into the Geländewagen to make the bonkers Mercedes-AMG G65. It arrived in the US just last year with a price tag also north of $200k. At 6,250 pounds, it weighs even more than the Bentayga, so it takes a considerably longer 5.2 seconds to hit 60. We don’t even want to know how fast a vehicle with the aerodynamic profile of a barn door will go flat out.
The Bentayga isn’t the only SUV to have received Bentley’s W12. And the 5.0-liter V10 TDI wasn’t the only bonkers engine to have featured in the first-generation Volkswagen Touareg. The two came together from 2005 through 2010 when you could get a Touareg with a W12, rated at 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s considerably less than the engine makes today, so the 0-62 time, while respectable, took 5.9 seconds. The model was initially supposed to be a limited edition, but demand especially from the Middle East (where fuel cost is less of a consideration) saw it put into regular production. It was never offered in the United States, though.
Audi Q7 6.0 TDI
Audi took a decidedly different approach to its twelve-cylinder sport-ute than its sister brands have. Built on the same platform as the Touareg, the Q7 also offered a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 – only this one burned diesel instead of gasoline. At 493 horses, power was still higher than the Touareg’s W12, but torque matched that of the G65 at 738 lb-ft. 0-62 as a result was quoted at 5.5 seconds, bridging the gap between the performance of its two aforementioned German rivals. The engine was so potent that Audi even considered putting it into the R8 supercar, but after presenting a couple of concepts, the project was ultimately shelved – and the engine along with it after 2010.
The forthcoming Urus is slated to pack a twin-turbo V8, but its precursor slotted the Countach’s V12 under the hood. The model name was LM002 but it was popularly known as the “Rambo Lambo.” Power was quoted at 444 horses (same as the Touareg) but torque from the engine originally developed for a sports car, was down to 368 lb-ft. 0-60 took 7.7 seconds and top speed at 118 mph, which pales in comparison to what these other twelve-cylinder sport-utes can do – but was much, much faster than the Range Rovers and Hummers of its day. Only 328 were made between 1986 and 1993.
A Great Idea… In Concept
A number of automakers have toyed with the idea of building a twelve-cylinder SUV, but never put one into production – or, at least, haven’t yet. BMW the 700-horsepower engine from its Le Mans-winning V12 LMR prototype into its crossover to make the one-off X5 LM. It set a blistering Nürburgring lap time of 7:50 – faster than any SUV before or since. The original version of the Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris concept was actually dubbed the D12 and packed that same VW Group W12 engine before a more compact V8 was envisioned for the production version that has, ten years later, still yet to materialize. And Aston Martin presented a Lagonda crossover concept in 2009 that incorporated the company’s evergreen 6.0-liter V12. But following negative public reaction, the project was ultimately scrapped in favor of the Lagonda Taraf, which features the same engine but in a sedan.
More In The Pipeline
Aston Martin may yet build a twelve-cylinder crossover, under its own name or Lagonda’s. What we do know is what Rolls-Royce is working on. Known for the time being as Project Cullinan, it will be the brand’s first SUV – much as the Bentayga is Bentley’s first – and will in all likelihood be powered by the 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 currently found in the Ghost, Wraith and Dawn. If Mercedes wants to keep up and ultimately goes ahead with long-rumored plans for a Maybach GLS, it may very well slot in a V12 there as well.