When you’re considering the top 10 12-cylinder cars for 2016, you’re looking at the models comprising the state of the automotive art. When manufacturers aspire to endow their products with these engines, they also fit them with the best of everything else they know how to do. Exceptional smoothness, along with a infinite abundance of freely available power characterize these powerplants. When you have a 12-cylinder engine under your right foot—you’re enjoying the ultimate automotive experience, whether you’re piloting a luxury sedan, a sports car, or a grand tourer (GT). Succinctly put, when you’re in possession of one of the top 10 12-cylinder cars, you have truly arrived.
When it comes to Audi sedans, the absolute best of the best is the A8 L W12. As you’d expect from one of the top 10 12-cylinder cars for 2016, the A8 L W12 is a paragon of technology, luxury, performance, and grace. Pretty much every option offered for the flagship Audi sedan is standard with the 12-cylinder engine. Further, you’ll find such luxuries as an Alcantara headliner, premium leather upholstery, dual-screen rear seat entertainment, active noise cancellation, dual-pane acoustic glass, separate rear power adjustable seats with heat, ventilation, and massage. In other words, the 12-cylinder Audi is more like a light jet than a car. The W12 engine makes 500 horsepower and 463 ft-lbs of torque from 6.3-liters of displacement. Rather than two rows of six cylinders arranged like a” V”, the W12 configuration is comprised of three rows of four cylinders. Pricing starts at $137,900.
Crowning the Aston Martin range, and one of the top 10 12-cylinder cars for 2016, is the Aston Martin Vanquish—offered as either a coupe or a convertible (Volante). The Aston flagship houses the most powerful GT production engine Aston Martin has ever created. One of the last holdouts for strictly normally aspirated engines; the Aston’s 5.9-liter V12 delivers 568 horsepower and 465 ft-lbs of torque through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The transmission is mounted at the rear of the Vanquish to balance weight distribution. The handmade carbon fiber body is one of the most beautiful ever crafted, and the quality, fit, and finish of the materials used to comprise the passenger compartment are without parallel. Yes, there are cars in the Vanquish’s category capable of greater performance, but the Aston Martin’s style, sophistication, and presence are pretty much unrivalled. Pricing starts at $284,995 for the coupe and $302,995 for Vanquish Volante.
For the 2016 model year, the Bentley Continental GT gets a revised grille treatment, reshaped front fenders, a new rear bumper, and a resculpted trunk lid. Inside, you’ll find a new, smaller steering wheel, the center console has been redesigned, and the instrument faces are updated. What hasn’t changed is the extraordinary presence of the Continental GT. It still looks good, even though the basic design has been around since its unveiling in Geneva in 2003. A paragon of luxury and high performance among the top 10 12-cylinder cars for 2016, the Bentley Continental GT is offered in both coupe and convertible forms. The twin-turbocharged W12 makes 626 horsepower and 607 ft-lbs of torque from 6.0-liters. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. Pricing starts at $242,125.
When it comes to GT cars, every front-engined V12 Ferrari is considered royalty. The marque’s current range topper, the F12 Berlinetta, uses a normally aspirated V12 producing 731 horsepower and 508 ft-lbs of torque from 6.3-liters. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission feeds this prodigious output to the rear wheels. While the jury’s been out on the F12’s styling since the model was introduced, one thing is certain, the F12 Berlinetta’s look is all its own. Meanwhile the driving experience surpasses all others. The wail of the V12, the razor sharp handling, and the brilliantly responsive steering and brakes, all add up to make the 2016 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta the best grand touring sports car ever crafted. Pricing starts at $330,000.
Photo by Benjamin Hunting
The first all-wheel drive model from one of the world’s premier auto manufacturers, the Ferrari FF (Ferrari Four: four seats/four-wheel drive) gives the loyal cadre of Ferrari owners a car they can drive regardless of weather or road conditions. Originally introduced in 2012, it’s also the only all-wheel drive wagon on the list of the top 10 12-cylinder cars for 2016. New for the upcoming model year is the more conventionally styled FF Coupe, giving Ferrari an all-wheel drive front-engine 12-cylinder coupe to offer alongside the more powerful F12 Berlinetta. Power for FF comes from Ferrari’s 6.3-liter V12 making 651 horsepower and 503 ft-lbs of torque. The engine feeds all four wheels through a seven-speed automated manual transmission. Pricing for the coupe has yet to be announced; the wagon starts at $298,750.
The personification of the phrase “exotic sports car”, the only conventional aspect of the Lamborghini’s appearance is the fact its wheels are round. This is the only thing the fire-breathing Lamborghini’s styling has in common with plebeian automobiles. Offered in both coupe and roadster body styles, the Aventador is built with one thing in mind—going as fast as (feel free to insert your own expletive here). Which, of course lands it on our list of the top 10 12-cylinder cars for 2016. Power comes from a 6.5-liter V12 with 690 horsepower and 509 ft-lbs of torque. A seven-speed automated manual gearbox feeds all four wheels. Pricing starts at $397,500. Yes, we know about the insane 740-horsepower $493,095 super lightweight Aventador LP 750-4 SV. A track-focused hyper-car whose top speed is about the same as the LP 700-4, the “basic” Aventador is a better all-around move.
While we find the look of the current Mercedes SL somewhat less than graceful, we will say it’s the best all-around sports/GT/personal luxury car on the market today. Fit the SL with a hand-assembled turbocharged AMG V12, and it gets even better—way, way better actually. The inherent smoothness of the V12 engine is enhanced when turbocharging is applied to it, as is power delivery. In the case of the 2016 Mercedes-AMG SL65, we’re talking 621 horsepower and a jaw-dropping 738 ft-lbs of torque—fed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Fitted as it is with the best of the best of the Mercedes-Benz catalog of comfort, convenience, and driver’s aid features, the SL65 AMG would be absolute state of the art, if it were better looking. Pricing starts at $217,550.
If your memory is long, or your studies strong, you know the Maybach 57 and 62 ultra-luxury models Daimler-Benz introduced at the Tokyo Auto Show back in 1997. For a number of reasons, those cars were somewhat less than warmly embraced by the high net worth individuals D-B had hoped to lure away from Roll-Royce and Bentley—so the project was shelved. This time, the sole Maybach offering is an element of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class portfolio, which allows Daimler-Benz to bring the Maybach in with a lower price tag. Hopefully, this will enable it to attract the merely rich, as opposed to only the super wealthy. Still an exceptional automobile by any measure, the rear-drive Mercedes-Maybach S600 features a twin turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 good for 523 horsepower and 612 ft-lbs of torque feeding a seven-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $189,350.
Just as the Mercedes-Maybach is based upon the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the entry-level Rolls model, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II, is based upon the platform underpinning the BMW 7 Series. This endows the Rolls with outstanding road manners as well as exceptional quiet and smoothness. The traditional upright Rolls-Royce styling looks good on the scaled down sedan, even while telegraphing the prestige the marque is justifiably expected to radiate. The rear opening “suicide” doors make entering and exiting the Ghost’s back seat considerably more graceful as well. Naturally, the latest in cutting edge tech and luxo features are well present and accounted for. Power comes from a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 good for 563 horsepower and 575 ft-lbs of torque fed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $338,900.
When it comes to the top ten 12-cylinder cars for 2016, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is the benchmark by which all other ultra-luxury sedans should be measured. This is due to the fact the flagship Rolls is also the answer to the question; “With what would one come up if they were building a price-no-object full-size luxury car?” Virtually hand made, the Phantom features the finest woods, wool, leather, and chrome available. Further, the roof can be fitted with fiber optic lighting to match the configuration of the stars in the sky on the night of your birth. Quiet, comfort, smoothness, easy handling, and yes—prestige—are featured in supreme abundance. The rear-drive Phantom employs a 6.75-liter V12 with 453 horsepower and 531 ft-lbs of torque supplying a seven-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $456,790.