For as long as Mercedes-AMG has been turning out fancy land missiles, it's used a strapping V12 engine to transform the brand's halo models into true objects of luxury and power. The S-Class in all its permutations, the lumbering G-Class, the freaking Maybach—Mercedes has been doing its part to keep tradition alive in the face of a rapidly changing market. But it looks like that's not going to be the case for much longer.
Talking to Australian outlet GoAuto.com at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers shared that the company's twin-turbo M279 V12 engine will be discontinued when the current S65 sedan, coupe, and cabriolet cycle out of production. That S65 nameplate will also disappear. The new focus will be extending the life of its 4.0-liter V8 engine for as long as possible through electrification, which Moers believes will stretch farther "than what everybody thinks."
"Nobody in the industry is able to predict the V8 engine ends, say, in 2028—that’s impossible," he said. "It is all about how clever are you as a company, to put the money in. And it should not be a bet—it should be a well-prepared strategy."
That "well-prepared strategy" is likely to first crystallize in a plug-in hybrid version of the new Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door. It's rumored to emerge sometime around 2020, with electric motors juicing that V8 powertrain up to around 800 horsepower to do battle with the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Still, all the strategery in the world won't keep 12 cylinders firing for much longer at Daimler.
This would seem to go against what one of the company's board members told The Drive in 2017, that the V12 would be around "for the foreseeable future" since buyers at those lofty peaks still demand it, and they had "no plans to give up on [that segment]." Then again, the past year has seen the end of both the 12-cylinder SL65 roadster and the G65 SUV, leaving those rocking S-Class variants as the last ones kicking it old school with the M279. We reached out to Mercedes-Benz to confirm Moers' statements to GoAuto and we'll update if we hear back.
The W222 S-Class debuted in 2014 and is due for a total redesign in 2020. Less than two years from now is technically the "foreseeable future," but with none of AMG's rivals announcing their own imminent departures from the small and extremely lucrative V12 market, it's still something of a surprise to hear the company will be making this move. In an analogous example with a different outcome, the successor to the Lamborghini Aventador will reportedly maintain an electrified V12 powertrain when it launches in 2022.
It's the end of an era at Mercedes-Benz, sadly—then again, we should probably be happy that it lasted this long.