Once you’ve experienced 12 cylinders, anything else makes you feel short-changed. There’s a reason flagship models from Bentley, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce all boast engines of this type. However, you don’t need to be a lottery winner or CEO to grab a slice of V12 luxury. Check out our selection of cars in the Auto Trader classifieds, with prices from just £2,995…
Motoring Research recently sampled a V12 XJS for our weekly Retro Road Test. We said: “The V12 burble doesn’t get boring, and there’s plenty of poke. It feels hugely special, and its reputation means they’re actually a bit of a bargain.”
That reputation – for iffy reliability and single-figure fuel economy – is the reason this XJS is the cheapest V12 currently in the Auto Trader classifieds. Still, at £2,995, with a modest 69,114 miles on the clock, it’s a pretty magnificent car for the money.
Aston Martin DB9
Forget the engine for a minute and just look at it. The DB9 could be the most beautiful car ever to emerge from Newport Pagnell. AND it has a creamy 450hp 5.9-litre V12. Just don’t mention the 18.9mpg thirst.
The price of looking like James Bond is a not-insubstantial £52,950. However, that’s still less than half the cost when new in 2008. And this DB9 has covered a mere 8,000 miles. It’s barely run-in.
How about something – slightly – more sensible? The ultimate fourth-generation (1998-2006) Mercedes-Benz S-Class boasts a mighty 500hp 5.5-litre V12 that blasts this long-wheelbase limousine to 62mph in 4.8 seconds. Very quietly.
When new, this S600L would have cost £95,000. And that’s before options, such as the chunky Mercedes-branded carphone. Fortunately, the wonders of depreciation mean you can buy this 2003 54,000-miler for just £9,994. Even taking running costs into account, that’s an incredible bargain.
BMW’s answer to the S600L was the 760Li. With a 445hp 6.0-litre V12 and 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, this is the closest you’ll get to an M7. The Chris Bangle-penned styling was controversial when new, but we reckon it’s aged rather well. The first-generation iDrive media system? Probably less well.
This 2003 760Li came with £12,800 of extras when new, taking it well over £100,000. Today, you buy it for £11,995 – seriously tempting for a one-owner car with 64,000 miles and full service history.
Audi A8 6.0
Completing our luxury German triumvirate is the W12 version of Audi’s A8. Rather than building a conventional V12, the Volkswagen Group spliced together two narrow-angle VR6s to create its 443hp 6.0-litre flagship engine. Well, unless you count the W16 in the Bugatti Veyron…
Our stealthy blue 2005 A8 looks in excellent condition. It has covered just 49,000 miles in the hands of one owner, and is currently for sale on Auto Trader at £12,495. This, or a mid-range Fiat 500?
Audi Q7 6.0 TDI
You can also find a 12-cylinder engine in Audi’s seven-seat 4×4 – but this time it’s a diesel. The mighty 500hp 6.0-litre V12 TDI makes the Q7 a bona fide alternative to a Range Rover. And because it drinks from the black pump, fuel economy is a not-too-terrifying 25.0mpg.
Q7 V12s are few and far-between. This 2010, 60,000-mile example is advertised for £39,989 – not cheap, but that’s still more than £60,000 in depreciation since new. Or £10,000 a year. Or £27 a day. Eek.
Bentley Continental GT 6.0
Wait, another 6.0-litre W12? Yup, Bentley is part of the Volkswagen Group so it gets to borrow this engine – tuned up to 560hp here. Supercar performance and a leather-lined cabin that seats four (at a squeeze). What’s not to like?
The Continental GT we’ve found in the classifieds is a 2004 car with 65,250 miles under its 19in wheels. The Audi-based infotainment is starting to look dated, but the fastback styling is as fresh as ever. Fit a private plate and most would struggle to tell this apart from the current car.
Ferrari 456 GT
Now things are getting serious. We hesitate to describe any V12-engined Ferrari as a ‘bargain’, but the gorgeous 456 GT is cheaper than most. And while maintenance costs alone will amount to several thousand pounds a year, you’ll make that back over time as the car appreciates in value. In theory.
This left-hand-drive 456 GT looks subtly beautiful in silver with a black leather interior. It has a 442hp 5.5-litre V12 and, best of all, an old-fashioned Ferrari manual ’box with an exposed metal gate. Even at £48,995, the want is strong with this one.
Here’s another Ferrari that’s still relatively affordable – but probably not for long. The 400i packs a 310hp 4.8-litre V12, along with straight-edged styling that evokes the 1970s as powerfully as a kipper tie.
This manual 400i is apparently one of 31 right-hand-drive examples made. It has spent much of its life in New Zealand, and has covered just 19,000 miles. The £55,900 asking price is a fraction of what you’d pay for an equivalent Ferrari 512 BB.
Our final 12-cylinder car is the grandest of all: the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The first Roller built under BMW and put the British brand firmly back at the top of the super-luxury tree. A 453hp V12 delivers effortless progress – no mean feat in a car weighing more than three tonnes.
At £79,995, this particular 2004 Phantom was the cheapest available on Auto Trader at the time of writing. And we’ll acknowledge that, with those 22in Revere alloy wheels, the spec is more Premiership footballer than Lord Sugar. Still, £80k for the pinnacle of V12 indulgence doesn’t seem too steep.