I spent the last week driving around Southern California in a brand-new BMW 740i, which is a full-size, gigantic, massive, hugely heavy luxury sedan that’s powered by … a 6-cylinder engine. When I picked up the car, I was vaguely aware of this fact, but I had a very busy week in California and I didn’t really think about it. In the end, I drove this car something like 750 miles in a span of 5 days, and I came to the following conclusion: I don’t really miss the V8.
This is surprising for anyone who knows me and my car-buying preferences, because I love V8s. Love, love, love, love. My last five or six personal cars have been powered by a V8 engine — and when I went looking for a new car earlier this year to replace my Range Rover after 5 years of ownership, I dismissed anything that didn’t have a V8. "Not for me," I thought. "Car enthusiasts drive V8s."
Well, I no longer believe that.
I’ll have a full review of this 740i coming soon enough, but the basic gist is that the 6-cylinder felt zippy, and quick, and more than capable of moving this thing around wherever I took it. Interestingly, BMW also offers a V8 in this car, and I came away from this whole experience thinking the following thing: Who would bother with it?
And frankly, I think that’s how life is going to go, more and more, as turbocharged engines proliferate. Which brings me to the question I’m addressing in this piece, namely: How long before V8s are just completely gone?
No, I don’t think they’ll ever truly die, or else I don’t think they’ll die any sooner than other internal combustion engines. But how long before they’re reserved for cars like the Ferrari 488, or various Aston Martins and AMG Mercedes models, and regular vehicles simply stop using them altogether? How long before the Chevy Suburban isn’t powered by a V8, and Cadillac doesn’t use any V8s, and the V8 is basically completely finished, except for a small sliver of ultra-high-performance cars?
This is already happening, of course, as many former V8 stalwarts have already dropped their powertrains. For instance, the Range Rover ditched its standard V8 years ago, and it now uses a standard supercharged V6. The Ford Expedition is now using a turbo V6 exclusively, and the F-150 is clearly heading in that direction. And this 740i was proof that you don’t really need a V8 for a full-size luxury car.
With that in mind, when do you think the V8 will be extinct? I’m honestly wondering if it will even survive until 2025, except in highly limited applications like the ones described above. Moreover, I strongly suspect that my current personal car, purchased with the desire to own a V8 — because "Why would anyone own anything else?" — will be my very last daily driver with eight cylinders. The writing is on the wall, and the V8 is dying.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Here’s Why the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S Costs $350,000
You Can Now Buy an Aston Martin for Under $30,000 — But Should You?
Here’s Why the 1990s Mazda RX-7 "FD" Is a Great Investment