The Mercedes-Benz V12 engine used in the S-Class, CL and SL will live on in future generations thanks primarily to a loyal fanbase of buyers who will only buy cars with twelve cylinders.
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Mercedes-Benz is readying heavily upgraded versions of the existing 5.5- and 6.0-litre V12 engine to deploy in the new-generation S-Class, in addition to the forthcoming S-Class Coupe and revised SL. The move goes directly against the trend with other Mercedes-Benz engines to downsize capacity and add a turbocharger to increase efficiency.

“The S65 and S600 buyers are the reason that the V12 continues,” confirmed Mercedes-Benz Australia corporate communications manager David McCarthy. “There’s somewhere between 4000 and 6000 [buyers] per year, and they will only buy V12.”

Mercedes-Benz V12 4

Currently, the S600 utilises a 5.5-litre V12 with 380kW of power and 830Nm of torque, while the S65 AMG 6.0-litre gets 463kW and 1000Nm; but both slurp more than 14L/100km combined.

“If you look at the current S600, it’s obviously pretty thirsty,” McCarthy continues. “But they’ve pared that back and spent a lot of money making it Euro 6 [compliant].”

The 6.0-litre V12 became Euro 6 compliant with the launch of the SL65 AMG, which coincided with the addition of a seven-speed auto, helping to drop consumption to 11.7L/100km, well below the 14.5L/100km combined figure of the current S65 AMG.

The new S-Class. Press Drive, Canada 2013, Die neue S-Klasse. Pressefahrvorstellung in Kanada, 2013

With the next-generation S600 and S65 AMG, however, the twelve-cylinder units will get further upgrades, scoring stop-start technology, and the seven-speed automatic gearbox from the SL65 – up from the current five-speed. They will also work with lower kerb weights to dramatically decrease consumption and meet tightening emissions regulations.

“We are going to do that [lower consumption] by upgrading the transmission, by doing a lot of fine tuning measures upon the engine itself,” said Mercedes-Benz head of product management for S-Class and roadsters Lutz Regelmann.

“We improve the whole car for the S-Class, we have a different drag coefficient, less weight… So all that in combination will reduce the consumption for the vehicle.”

The new S-Class. Press Drive, Canada 2013, Die neue S-Klasse. Pressefahrvorstellung in Kanada, 2013

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed the S500 Plug-in Hybrid for the Frankfurt motor show in September, at which point the V12 models – including the S600 and S65 AMG – are also likely to debut to book-end the range.

In Australia, the S600 long-wheelbase sedan will be first to arrive with the new V12 engine in the second quarter of next year.

Mercedes-Benz Australia will pass on the S65 AMG sedan, however, the only other V12-engined model in the S-Class range, and will instead choose to wait for the S65 AMG Coupe that will debut at the Detroit motor show and follow locally later in 2014.