The only disquieting aspect of BMW’s N74 6.6-liter V12 is the gossip around the engine; the V12 itself is the smoothest powerplant in the automaker’s stable. Debuting in 2017 in the imperial 7 Series trim, the M760i, rumors of the engine’s death began only a year later. In 2018, BMWBlog wrote that the mill would disappear once the 7 Series facelift hit the market in 2019, the move having “everything to do with regulations imposed by EU.” The engine stuck around through the change, and in 2019, BMW’s head of powertrain for the 7 Series told Top Gear, “We will keep [the V12] for the rest of this generation at least, until 2023.” Demand in China and the Middle East compelled V12 production to run “at maximum capacity.”
One year on, it’s back to premature death: BimmerToday reports (translated) the aluminum block V12 is on its last cylinders, with the caveat, “According to our information, the production of the twelve-cylinder sedan for the European market will be finally stopped in autumn 2020.” That means the markets sponging up the V12 supply, like the Middle East, China, and the U.S., should continue to get their fix.
Demise in Europe makes sense, with automakers watching CO2 figures there like keto dieters watch carbohydrates. In the U.S., the M760i makes 601 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to the Otto particle filter required on the European model, the M760Li over there produces 577 hp and 627 lb-ft. Meanwhile, output from the un-crimped 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 in the 750Li has climbed to 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. The 54 additional horses in the V12 likely get lost in the 7 Series’ weighty shuffle, but a keen driver should feel the additional 74 lb-ft.
Are those numbers worth the €57,400 ($62,300 U.S.) difference in purchase price between the V8 and V12? That’s hard to argue, especially when performance is so close between the V8 and V12. Chinese and Middle Eastern buyers don’t bother with such trivialities since the V12 is a status purchase and their chauffeurs aren’t concerned with shaving 0.3 seconds off the sprint to 62 miles per hour.
It’s fair to believe the V12 will last outside Europe until the new 7 Series arrive for the 2023 model year, after which the V8 and V12 are predicted to leave the lineup. The N74 engine could live on after that for BMW-owned Rolls-Royce, which has stated its desire to keep its 6.75-liter version in production “as long as possible” before going straight to electrification.