Why The World Needs Smaller V12s

Have you ever wondered what the true effect of tree-hugging is? We’ve been told that cars are responsible for the hole in ozone layer, which in turn is killing the baby whales, baby penguins and baby babies.
To save them, our cars are running on fewer cylinders every year, and I believe it won’t belong before we start using two-cylinder turbos on all econoboxes. Yah, disgusting!

I thought I’d remind what a cool engine is before we all have our brains washed clean and replaced with single-cylinder moped noises.

I’m not sure how the baby whales are doing, but all our cylinders are dead. They used to rome in families of eight arranged in a V pattern, but these groups are either dying off completely or are being forced to put four of their members on life support so the others can survive under the false pretext of “cylinder deactivation.”

I’m not saying that protecting the environment isn’t something that’s worth doing, just that the price has been way too high.

If I were to name a champion of the eco times, I would call him “DOWNSIZING” with capital letters. Downsizing means your engine is more complicated and thus more expensive to maintain, it means exhausts are muffled and muted, while performance is placed out of your reach. Downsizing is just an acceptable name for killing cylinders, and I don’t like it.

Looking back ten years ago, where we are now is not the automotive market I expected we’d see. For me, the strangest thing of all is that because of downsized engines, about half of all small performance cars sound like some sort of tuned old Civic Type Rs.

The Audi S3, the Mercedes A45 AMG, the Subaru BRZ and even big cars like the BMW 5 Series now make that specific four-cylinder engine rattling sound. To hide the horror, they’ve festooned this awful four-cylinder rattled with fake sounds coming from the speakers or through boxes that funnel noise into the cabin.

It’s fine from inside the cabin, but four-bangers manage to make lots and lots of noises, most of them not very pleasant. The S3 and A45 I just mentioned whale away under high revs when you thrash them through a tunnel but will not give you the same sensation in the pants area as an old V12 supercar did.

Which brings me to my crazy solution. When BMW replaced the naturally aspirated six with a turbo-four in the 328i, Z4 28i and so on, I immediately thought that what we need is smaller engines with lots of cylinders.

Let’s take Ferrari for example. They are best known for their V12 engines, which currently displace 6262cc (FXX, FF, F12berlinetta and soon F150). But the most famous cars in their history had really small engines, still V12, but really small.

The first car Ferrari made had a 1.5-liter V12 engine from the Colombo series. Today, three-bangers can have that displacement. That’s four times fewer cylinders and four times less beautiful a sound.

This story isn’t just a flight of my fancy, it’s more of a cry for attention from automakers who are used to cutting costs where they should actually diversify and invest.

Can you imagine how much cooler the Golf R would be if it had a V6 again? The egg would be all over BMW’s face if Audi would make a 2-liter V6 with twin turbos countering all the boring four-bangers out there?

Emissions laws and taxes got us all running scared. A Ferraris is now just as expensive to own as it was to buy, and voices within the company speak of hybrids and electricity. But why not go back in time and make 4-liter V12 instead of just ruining the only symphony a Prancing Horse knows to play, the twelve-string.

Engineering is a beautiful thing, and anybody who buys a prestigious performance car has an interest in things that have to do with the mechanical. Emissions and fuel consumption should play second fiddle to performance, character and power.

This is something I’m very serious about. Every carmaker that’s got a name to protect had better put together smaller V6 and V8 engines before it’s too late, before the Audi R8 gets a T5 and we all start searching for charging stations along our weekend adventure route.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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