The best V-8 luxury cars are surprisingly rare, and for what’s perhaps a surprising reason. While there are plenty of incredible new technologies now available to the auto industry, and the world’s premium automakers have retained an equal commitment to supporting traditional craftsmanship as well, the V-8 engine itself has become an unusual sight. In the luxury segments in particular, many of the more athletic brands have switched to high-powered V-6 turbos for their larger entries, which in the past would have merited the two extra cylinders. And there are still a handful of 12-cylinder entries among the ultra-lux automakers. Luckily, we did come up with a list of luxurious rides that have been carefully chosen to combine V-8 power and premium amenities.
The 2015 Audi A8—the four-rings flagship—does indeed start with a standard high-tech turbo V-6, but moving up to the available premium engine secures its place as one of the best V-8-powered luxury cars in the country. And that 4.0-liter V-8 features the same innovative TSFI technology as the A8’s smaller engine, backed by a combination of both direct injection and turbocharging that results in 435 hp and 444 lb.-ft. of torque. Now, as you might guess that’s a steep increase from the standard A8 engine and reduces 0-60 acceleration to a mere 4.3 seconds, a blistering pace, especially for a full-size Sedan. But the kicker here is that high-velocity V-8 also enables up to 30 mpg in highway driving.
Eight cylinders come standard in the 2015 Mercedes S550, and it’s a sign of the S-Class’ self-anointed status as the flagship of flagships that even the line’s entry point is one of the industry’s best V-8 luxury sedans. At the heart of the matter: a 4.7-liter unit that leverages twin turbochargers, direct injection and multi-spark ignition for 449 hp, 516 lb.-ft. of torque and 0-60 sprint times as low as 4.8 seconds. It’s also worth pointing out that the 2015 S-Class, due in August, is expected to premiere two more M-B innovations. Near Field Communication, for quicker, simpler smartphone pairing, and Speed Limit Assist, capable of recognizing speed-limit signs and alerting the driver to adjust the car’s velocity as needed.
BMW 750i xDrive
The 2015 BMW 7 Series is an impressive feat of engineering, but unless you count the Alpina B7—technically “manufactured” by Alpina, albeit right on BMW’s production lines—it didn’t offer enough cylinders to qualify as one of the top V-8 luxury cars. Well, that gets rectified for the new model year, in the shape of the 2016 BMW 750i xDrive. Coming this fall, the 750i xDrive will boast BMW’s 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbo V-8 and enjoy outputs of 445 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. Further, along with that upgraded engine comes upgraded technologies, highlighted by the debut of “Gesture Control” for the car’s iDrive operating system, obviating the need to even touch the touchscreen to manage select vehicle features.
Restyled and adding some notable new technologies for the 2015 model year, the Infiniti Q70 additionally welcomed an extended-wheelbase model that grows in length by nearly six inches as compared to the standard edition. Both, of course, also serve up the same 5.6-liter, direct-injection V-8, tuned to unleash 420 hp and 417 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with Infiniti’s Adaptive Shift Control and Downshift Rev Matching for quicker, smoother operation. With that powertrain beneath its sleek, highly aerodynamic sheet metal, the Q70 is a powerful pick among new luxury cars with V-8 engines, and also one of the few here that can tout Top Safety Pick+ recognition from the IIHS.
Lexus LS 600h L
Leave it to Lexus—the lux division from Toyota—to offer the only hybrid choice on our honor roll of best V-8 luxury sedans. That would be the 2015 Lexus LS 600h L, which integrates a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with a high-output, permanent-magnet electric-drive motor and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. The setup works together to deliver 438 hp, an electronically controlled top speed of 130 mph and fairly brisk 0-60 sprints of 5.5 seconds, all assisted by permanent all-wheel drive and packaged into an extended-wheelbase body style. Alternatively, Lexus leads off the LS range with the rear-wheel-drive LS 460 that relies on a 4.6-liter V-8 for 386 hp and 367 lb.-ft. of torque.
Showing just how hard it can be to break into the ultra-premium vehicle segments, the 2015 Hyundai Equus has faced stiff headwinds on the sales front, although it certainly has the horses to run with the rest of the luxury herd. In fact, the Equus has 429 of them—complemented by 376 lb.-ft. of torque—thanks to its 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine. Moreover, it matches that sophisticated powerplant to premium features including, for the 2016 model year, a new Hands-free Smart Trunk with Automatic Opening that can recognize the key fob in the owner’s pocket or purse, lifting the trunk lid without the need for awkward kicking motions. It’s touches like that elevate the Equus to its place among the top luxury cars with V-8 powertrains.
For drivers who want to stand out from the ordinary—even compared to these extraordinary cars—it’s hard to beat the 2015 K900. After all, the K900 keeps sales down to just a bit over 100 units a month, guaranteeing the kind of exclusivity other great V-8 luxury cars don’t provide. Meanwhile, what the K900 provides is a standard 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 420 hp and 376 lb.-ft. of torque, with all that power sent toward the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Frankly, it’s the same powertrain furnished by Kia’s corporate cousin, the Hyundai Equus, but wrapped in the kind of bold, aggressive design language that speaks to drivers like LeBron James, the K900’s luxury ambassador.
Bentley Flying Spur
Bentley pushes the best V-8-powered luxury vehicles to new heights with the Flying Spur, a mammoth sedan that, at the top of the range, revels in a 6.0-liter W-12 engine that can release 616 hp and 590 lb.-ft. of torque. Yet the brand also has something special for those who make do with the car’s standard 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, helping to make up for the latter engine’s mere 500 hp and 487 lb.-ft. of torque: the 2015 Bentley Flying Spur Beluga Specification. Supplied solely to the Flying Spur V-8 model, Beluga benefits include model-specific 20-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish, a gloss-black radiator matrix (above a body-color lower-grille bar), and a cabin enhanced by piano-black veneers, knurled paddle shifters and contrast stitching.
A mainstay of the Big Cat brand, the 2016 Jaguar XJ has been thoroughly renewed for the coming model year, complete with enough cutting-edge creature comforts to retain its spot on our roster of best V-8 luxury cars. Of special interest: Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, able to bundle navigation, seamless integration with select Apple and Android devices, mobile wi-fi capability, and a 18-speaker, 825-watt surround sound audio setup that is standard for XJ owners. Not standard, but much appreciated by performance-oriented owners, is a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine that delivers 470 hp and 424 lb.-ft. of torque in the aptly named XJ and XJL Supercharged editions, the latter of which is an extended-wheelbase model.
Despite representing a value choice when compared to the rest of the best V-8 luxury cars, the 2015 Chrysler 300 does showcase some unexpectedly lux touches, most noticeably in the new 300C Platinum trim. In that guise, and garnished by gorgeous Poltrana Frau leather on its instrument panel and console, along with award-winning Uconnect infotainment technology and Black Olive Ash Burl wood accents, the car was named to the most recent WardsAuto “Best Interiors List.” Then, to meet today’s powertrain criteria, this well-appointed Chrysler product also comes with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that’s good for 363 hp and 394 lb.-ft. of torque, but also can return EPA ratings that reach up to 25 mpg.