Merc’s powerhouse engine will live to see another S-Class generation

Just when you thought it was safe to proclaim the V-12 engine a relic in Mercedes-Benz’s engine lineup, now comes word that the mighty V-12 might not be done yet. Daimler chairman Ola Källenius made that point to GT Spirit on the sidelines of the 2019 Guangzhou Auto Show in China. According to Källenius, the next-generation Mercedes S-Class will be offered with a V-12. He didn’t dive into the specifics of the said engine, but speculation is rampant that the next-generation S-Class’ V-12 engine will be an updated version of the 6.0-liter V-12 unit that’s currently available in the Mercedes-Maybach S650.

It Didn’t Look Good for the V-12 Engine Before

The Mercedes V-12 Will Live On In the S-Class, Emissions Be Damned Exterior Spyshots
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Last year, AMG CEO Tobias Moers dropped a bombshell on fans of AMG’s bi-turbocharged V-12 engine. Speaking with Car and Driver back in April 2018, Moers announced that the brand’s mighty 12-cylinder engine would be phased out of high-tier AMG models. The decision was made in part because of increasingly stringent regulations on massive gas-guzzlers, but more importantly because of increased focus on hybridization and electrification.

AMG wasn’t immune to this shift. It even rolled out the Mercedes-AMG S65 Final Edition at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, allowing fans of the performance brand the chance to say goodbye to the V-12 engine.

Moving forward, the automaker already has a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8 engine that can either be used as it is or can be adapted for hybrid applications.
The Mercedes V-12 Will Live On In the S-Class, Emissions Be Damned Exterior Spyshots
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Several recent Mercedes models are already using the V-8 in either setup and as Mercedes and Mercedes-AMG continue to try to appease specific markets and their respective rules and regulations, it did feel like the end of the V-12 engine was nigh. It wasn’t expected to be completely gone, but its use was believed to have been set specifically for Mercedes-Maybach models. Currently, the Mercedes-Maybach 650 uses the mighty 6.0-liter V-12 engine. But apart from that, Mercedes and Mercedes-AMG models were thought to be done with the V-12 engines, or at least that’s what most people were led to believe.

The Next-Generation S-Class Will Have an Option, But What About Others?

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Drivetrain
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It seemed that everyone had come to grips with the V-12’s departure from the Mercedes lineup. Alarm bells even sounded when Mercedes unveiled the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 earlier this week with a V-8 engine, a dramatic shift from its previous incarnation where it was offered with the iconic V-12 engine.

But just as the eulogy was being written, no other than Daimler CEO Källenius dropped his own bombshell.

Turns out, the next-generation S-Class will indeed receive a V-12 engine.

It will come as an option, but still, it’s better than nothing, right?>

Källenius didn’t dive into the specifics on what kind of V-12 engine the next-generation S-Class will receive, but there are rums that the current 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12 (M279) engine will be the powertrain-of-choice, albeit an updated version of the existing setup. The unit packs 621 horsepower and 731 pound-feet of torque in its current state of tune but considering that the engine will receive updates in line with the stature of the next-generation S-Class, expect an increase in both power and torque for that model. How much of an increase? Perhaps something in the lines of 700 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque isn’t out of the question.

Mind you, the V-12’s lease on life extends only on the next-generation S-Class, which isn’t scheduled to arrive until 2020. The current-generation S-Class models will no longer come with a V-12 engine.

What About The Maybachs?

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Mercedes-Benz has finally revealed the European pricing for the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.
Mercedes-Maybach’s stature as Daimler’s super-luxury brand comes with certain perks, one of which is the availability of a V-12 engine.

The current Mercedes-Maybach S600 is currently powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 unit. It remains to be seen if the next version will carry a similar unit, but don’t be surprised if it will since the next-generation Mercedes S600 will have a V-12 engine as an option.

What’s clear, according to Källenius, is that the recently launched Mercedes-Maybach GLS will not feature a V-12 engine of any sort.

The super-luxury SUV was released last week with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine paired with EQ Boost and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The setup produces 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers suit the luxury SUV relative to its competition — the Rolls-Royce Cullinan’s 6.7-liter twin-turbo V-12, for example, produces 562 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque.

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Exterior
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A V-12 engine would’ve sounded exciting, but Mercedes isn’t keen on using it on any model it sees fit. It has to choose the right model to get the V-12 engine, and the Maybach GLS SUV isn’t one of them. The more polished Maybach S600 sedan, though, is another story. If the V-12 engine is offered as an option to the Mercedes S600, it’s not unlikely that Daimler will also offer it in the next Maybach S600 as well.

Source: GT Spirit

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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