Although some would dispute this statement, V8 engines are still the golden middle ground. At least performance/price wise. They are still much more powerful than their 4 or 6-cylinder brethren, while not being nearly as expensive as V12 or larger powerplants. Although, they aren’t particularly fuel efficient. And that seems to be one of the most important engine-related categories these days. But, if history taught us anything, it’s that fuel efficiency is overrated. Especially in the U.S. where some of the best V8 engines ever built served as automotive industry’s backbone.
V8 once reigned supreme, then went into hibernation come early seventies. It has since returned in glorious fashion, only to begin making way for smaller forced induction mills in recent years, again. But, fear not. Things aren’t nearly as grim as they used to be during the seventies. Market is still flooded with V8s. What’s even more important; it’s flooded with extremely good V8s. Whether it’s power, sound or build quality you’re going for, modern V8s often have it all. Here are some of modern era’s best V8 engines money can get you these days.
General Motors 6.2L LT4 Supercharged V8
It’s hard to argue that Chevy small-blocks are some of the best V8 engines ever created. They were affordable, compact, durable, reliable, and easy to maintain and modify. Their successors have built upon that. They’re all of the above mentioned in modernized package. And fifth generation LT4 small-block crate engine stands out in the crowd. Consider any modern small-block worthy of this list, but we’ve chosen LT4 for its performance. That and immense impact it’s had in the last couple of years. After all, it’s LT4 that stands behind Corvette Z06’s and Camaro ZL1’s 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of twist. It’s the most powerful Chevy small-block engine to date, although it’s limited to “only” 640 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque in Cadillac CTS-V.
LT4 small-block sports rather high 10.0:1 compression ratio. At least for forced induction engines. This 1.7L Eaton TVS supercharged beast also sports aluminum heads, titanium intake valves, special forged aluminum pistons, and stainless steel exhaust manifolds among other feats. It actually continues where its predecessor, the LS9 left the stage. The same LS9 that used to power Corvette ZR1 and still motivates Equus Bass – luxury, hand-crafted, Detroit-built muscle car that epitomizes the term resto mod.
Mercedes-Benz 4.0L M178 Twin-Turbo V8
We’d prefer if automakers would simply leave naturally aspirated engines alone. But in this day and age where power plays essential role, that’s practically impossible. Newest addition to Mercedes-Benz V8 family here, replaces one such naturally aspirated V8. Instead of 6.2L M156 (M159 in AMG SLS), we now get more compact 4.0L M178 bi-turbo mill with similar power output. The engine debuted in AMG GT where it started with 456 hp. New AMG GT R is able to squeeze as much as 577 ponies and 516 lb-ft of torque out of it, though.
This 460-pound engine uses rather peculiar design in order to remain compact and light. Mercedes-Benz calls it “hot inside V,” which means that its two BorgWarner turbos are positioned inside the V configuration. Between the cylinder heads to be more precise. It’s the first such engine manufactured by the German automaker. Apart from putting exhaust heat right upon turbo’s platter, this layout also enables simpler plumbing and less heat loss. High-quality aluminum engine redlines at 7,200 rpm, while its dry-sump lubrication system allows it to be mounted as low as it’s necessary in supercars such as AMG GT. Although it has reduced bore compared to M156, M178’s forced induction-boosted performance justifies old and beloved powerplant’s discontinuation.
Radical 2.7L RPE V8
If you’re unfamiliar with Radical – they’re a U.K.-based small batch sports cars manufacturer. Why are some of their engines special? Because Radical is mostly using Suzuki motorcycle engines as a base. Although motorcycle engines aren’t exactly large, that doesn’t hinder Radical from converting them into V8s. One such engine is their 2.7L RPE V8 which currently motivates their 1,600-pound SR8 sports car.
RPE V8 is capable of producing 405 horsepower which propels lightweight sports car to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. It also enables it to max out at 173 mph and achieve frightening 2.2 Gs of lateral force. Quite an incredible feat considering small 1.3L displacement of Suzuki Hayabusa 4-cylinder which serves as RPE V8s base. Of course, Radical’s engine is built around couple of Suzuki engines upon Radical’s in-house cylinder block. It redlines at staggering 10,500 rpm’s which makes it one of the highest revving engines in existence. Truly commendable features for largely unknown low volume powerplant.
Chrysler 6.2L Hemi SRT Hellcat Supercharged V8
Despite SRT Demon debuting a few months ago, Hellcat still stands out as the most powerful American V8 engine out there. Reason is, 6.2L Demon V8 is limited production engine, and probably won’t make it past the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. 6.2L Hellcat V8, on the other hand, already motivates Dodge Challenger and Charger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. There are even talks of Hellcat-powered Chrysler 300.
In other words, 707-horsepower Hellcat Hemi V8 is a proven powerplant of impeccable pedigree. And it’s inexpensive as well. At least compared to most of other engines on this list. But it wouldn’t be capable of making as much power as it does without 2.4L IHI supercharger. The same blower often found in AMG-tuned Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It delivers as much as 11.6 psi of boost, and in turn, boosts this Hemi’s performance sky high. But that’s not all. SRT Hellcat V8 also packs forged, high-strength alloy pistons with diamond-like-carbon coating pins. Then there are special crankshaft and control rods. In fact, 91% of the engine is new compared to conventional Hemi V8 used as its base.
BMW 4.4L S6344TU Twin-Turbo V8
BMW 4.4L S63 V8 is a motivating factor behind the likes of X5 and X6. That doesn’t mean a lot to most petrolheads out there, but what if I told you it also stands behind M5’s impeccable performance? Well, it does. S63 V8 has been powering BMW M5’s since 2011. New generation which should make its debut soon, will continue this trend.
S63’s cylinder block, crankshaft and rods were taken from conventional N63 version of the engine. S63 improves on the formula with new cylinder head, intake system, cross-engine exhaust manifold, and most importantly, dual Garrett MGT2260SDL turbos with boost of up to 17.5 psi. BMW M5 and M6 use the upgraded S63B44TU version of the engine which uses larger 10.0:1 compression ratio, BMW’s Valvetronic system, 22 psi of boost from MGT2260DSL Garrett turbos, and redlines at 7,200 rpm. All that is good enough for 575 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque.
Ferrari 3.9L F154 Twin-Turbo V8
We all know what Ferrari means in the automotive world, and we also know Italians built their reputation upon their V8-powered supercars. Newest addition to the family, F154 replaces the prized naturally aspirated F136 Ferrari-Maserati mill. It has slightly smaller displacement than that of its predecessor, but compensates with addition of two twin-scroll IHI turbochargers. It’s Ferrari’s first twin-turbo V8 engine since F120A, long ago found in Ferrari F40.
3.9L F154 V8 boasts aluminum alloy cylinder block and heads in a 90 degree angle. Unlike in Maserati applications where it sports crossplane crankshaft, Ferrari models come with flat plane crank. F154 currently powers the likes of Ferrari California, 488 GTB, and GTC4Lusso T. It can also be found in newest Maserati Quattroporte GTS, while V6 version of the engine powers Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. F154 V8’s current maximum amounts to 661 ponies in Ferrari 488 GTB. There’s potential for more, however, and it’s only a matter of time before Ferrari fulfills it.
Jaguar 5.0L SVR Supercharged V8
This is basically a version of AJ133 V8 that’s debuted in 2009 and has found its way into numerous Jaguar and Land Rover applications. This version, developed by SVR (Special Vehicle Operations) department, generates up to 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. It’s currently available with Jaguar F-Type SVR coupe which is the first Jag since XJ220 to reach 200 mph mark.
As you can see, it draws extra power out of twin vortex Eaton supercharger, and does 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds. Engine itself is one nicely sculpted chunk of aluminum complemented by Inconel titanium exhaust system and otherwise similar bits and pieces as in conventional AJ133 V8’s. This means SVR version of the mill is just differently calibrated in order to yield more power. There’s potential for more. I don’t doubt it.
Ford 5.2L Voodoo V8
When Ford borrowed flat-plane crank idea from Ferrari, they created arguably the best V8 engine in company’s history. 5.2L Voodoo V8 redlines at 8,250 rpm, delivers evenly spaced exhaust pulses, and generally breathes better. That’s why this naturally aspirated V8 generates 526 horsepower in Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R.
Voodoo V8 borrows 5.0L Coyote’s aluminum block, albeit with larger bore and stroke which result in bigger displacement. It also sports larger heads, forged aluminum pistons, forged steel crank and connecting rods, and high 12.0:1 compression ratio. It’s one of the best American V8 engines ever built. Due to different approach from typical American V8’s, Voodoo emanates a different symphony than that of its coevals. This is what makes us proud to be American.