Although they are not a dime a dozen, SUVs fitted with V12 engines do exist. We take a look at a five of them.
Launched last year, the Bentley Bentayga has been punted as the world’s fastest, most powerful SUV and it only comes with twelve-cylinder power, at least initially. It is fitted with the brand-new version of Bentley’s signature 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12, that pushes out 447Kw and 900Nm of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. The Bentayga achieves 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 301 km/h. Not too shabby for a vehicle weighing over 2500kg. Of course that much power doesn’t come cheaply: it will cost you just under R4-million to make one your own.
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, churning out 463kW and 1000Nm 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 2800kg, it weighs even more than the Bentayga, so it takes a considerably longer 5.2 seconds to hit 100km/h. 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 mad 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 331kW and 600Nm of torque. That’s considerably less than the engine makes today, so the 0-100km/h 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.
Audi took a decidedly different approach to its twelve-cylinder sports utility vehicle 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 petrol. At 367kW, power was still higher than the Touareg’s W12, but torque matched that of the G65 at 1000Nm. As a result 0-100km/h 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 331kW (same as the Touareg) but torque from the engine originally developed for a sports car, was down to 500Nm. It took 7.7 seconds to reach 100km/h and top speed at 190kph, which pales in comparison to what these other twelve-cylinder SUVs can do – but was much, much faster than the Range Rovers and Hummers of its day. Only 328 were made between 1986 and 1993.