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The V8 Hall of Fame

Which is the best V8 ever made?

Ntsako Mthethwa
April 3, 2024
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The V8 Hall of Fame

While it’s a known fact that the industry is on the brink of a significant transformation, the V8 engine is far from being obsolete. In fact, besides getting more efficient with hybrid supplementation, the V8 powerhouse continues to live on, in our hearts at the very least, for the foreseeable future.

So, on to one of the more frequently asked questions we encounter: "Which is the best V8 ever made?" This is a loaded question, so to answer it once and for all, we will explore some of the V8 engines that, in our opinion, are among the finest production car engines ever manufactured. While there are numerous contenders, these particular engines stand out for their exceptional performance and technological innovations. 

Ford Mustang GT (302 Coyote V8)

The Ford Mustang is best described by its legendary V8 engine, a 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated unit that has set the standard for excellence and emotion in the sports car market. Push the start button, and the V8 powerplant comes to life with a fast-blaring sound before it settles into a nice, bassy idle, and you know immediately that you are in a special car. In this application, it pushes out 330kW and 529Nm.  

With low-end torque in heaps, the V8 provides strong performance to make the Mustang a viable daily sports car, and while electrification seems to have caught up with the brand, at least for the next generation Mustang, the V8 lives to see another day. 

Jaguar F-Pace SVR (5.0-litre Supercharged V8)

Affectionately referred to as the “unruly cat," the Jaguar F-Pace SVR made a significant impression at our 2022 Speed Week. This SUV, equipped with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine that delivers 405kW and 700Nm, is arguably one of the best-sounding vehicles in its class.

Despite the prevailing trend towards electrification and environmental consciousness, the F-Pace SVR remains steadfastly traditional. It does not incorporate any form of electrification, distinguishing it from its German counterparts. The vehicle’s V8 engine, vented through quad tailpipes, produces a powerful and distinctive sound. It delivers a range of auditory experiences, from sharp cracks to deep pops, all of which are authentic and unenhanced. In essence, people are more likely to hate you for downshifting around their neighbourhood or when you accelerate to overtake them. 

BMW F10 M5 (S63 4.4-litre V8)

Dubbed the ultimate super saloon, the BMW F10 M5 remains a cult classic of note. It came at a time when people were still mourning the demise of the previous iteration of the M5’s V10, and the 4.4-litre V8 turbocharged petrol engine brought with it even better performance. 

With all 412kW and 680Nm sent to the rear wheels, it tended to cannibalise its rear tyres while attacking corners with so much competence while sounding... what’s the word? Brutal. It will do all this while carrying four adults with remarkable comfort, and no matter where you are in the rev range, there’s an incredible amount of pulling power. 

Chevrolet SS Lumina (L98 6.0-litre V8)

Despite its departure from the South African market in 2017, the Lumina SS has left an indelible mark on the automotive landscape with its soundtrack from the 6.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 powerplant. With 270kW and 539Nm sent to the rear axle, the SS Lumina can be best described as vocal and fast, and be it ute or sedan, the SS Lumina continues to turn heads.

It remains a coveted item among collectors, some of whom are willing to pay a premium, even double the original price, for a well-maintained specimen. This enduring appeal underscores the special status of the Lumina SS in the realm of performance vehicles.

Mercedes-AMG W204 C63 (M156 6.2-litre V8)

The Mercedes-AMG W204 C63, with its hand-assembled, naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine, is widely regarded as one of the finest creations to emerge from Affalterbach. Delivering a power output of 336kW and a torque mountain of 600Nm exclusively to the rear wheels, the engine’s sound is a symphony of power and performance. The full-throated roar and instinctive responses of the C63 as it accelerates from a standstill are truly remarkable. 

However, it’s worth noting that automotive engineering has evolved. The introduction of the electrified W206 C63 S E Performance, while technologically advanced, has been met with mixed reactions. Some enthusiasts feel that it lacks the raw, visceral appeal of its predecessors. This sentiment underscores nostalgia for the “good old days” of automotive design and engineering. It’s a reminder that while progress is inevitable, the charm and character of classic models like the W204 C63 continue to be cherished.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT (4.0-litre V8)

Those who have experienced it often express surprise at its performance, noting that ‘it really shouldn’t go like this’. That’s how fast the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is with its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine residing under its bonnet. While it's less dramatic at idle, it’s when you dial it into Sport Plus mode and plummet the accelerator pedal that the engine springs to life with a fierce soundtrack, breathing out of the titanium centre-exit exhaust pipes. 

Instead of the iconic melodic V8 gurgle, the engine delivers a slightly hoarse ‘brrraaap’ sound while delivering an unrelenting shove. If you care about numbers, you will recall that it’s the same model that lapped the iconic Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes, 38.9 seconds, with the same V8 powerplant beating at its heart. 

Ferrari 458 Italia (F136 4.5-litre V8)

We can't forget about the mighty F136 V8 engine, thanks to Ferrari and Maserati's joint venture. The 4.5-litre V8 powerplant was touted as the world's most powerful naturally aspirated V8 at the time, with 419kW and 540Nm of raw, insane grunt, also capable of screaming all the way to the 9,000r/min mark. Ferrari’s V8 engines, with their unique blend of technology and design, continue to set the standard for performance and excellence in the automotive industry.

Audi R8 V8 (4.2-litre FSI V8)

Probably one of the finest V8s to ever exist, the Audi R8 was initially powered by a 4.2-litre FSI V8 engine with 309kW and 430Nm and shared with the formidable B7 RS4 model. While the flagship V10, which was added to the R8 range approximately two years later, may have a more refined sound, it is the V8 that has truly captured the hearts of many, including yours truly. It's this distinctive tone that continues to resonate with purists, even today.

The 4.2-litre V8 FSI engine has a way of crawling under your skin and making parts of you tingle, thanks to its excellent noise, which is accompanied by a bark. Not only that, but it has terrific and sublimely pleasurable driving qualities that rival the best on the road.

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