Goodbye V8, Hello V6 Supercars

Goodbye V8, Hello V6 Supercars

The writing has been on the wall for a while. The number of V12 engine cars is dropping rapidly, Mercedes has no V12 S-Class anymore, The 812 will be the last pure V12 front-engine Ferrari, and the legendary Lamborghini V12 will only continue with hybrid assist now. We have ever-tightening emissions regulations to thank, but this V12 cull is also having a trickle-down effect – the V8 is also under threat – with increasing competition from the V6.

In a lot of cases, what was a V12, will now be replaced by a hybrid V8 – more power, lower emissions and some EV-only driving ability, this is how things are going. But if the top-rung cars now have eight cylinders, where does that leave the mid-engine supercars?

Well, we’ve already seen three of the new order released – the Maserati MC20, McLaren Artura and last week we saw Ferrari’s 296GTB. All V6 powered, but all going about things slightly differently. So first up, a look at each of these new supercars:

Ferrari 296GTB

Image courtesy of @handre_dxb

When news first broke of a new V6 Ferrari being announced in June, most people (and media outlets) assumed it was a new, lower priced model that may be badged ‘Dino’ to pay homage to the classic model. But then the day came and one number immediately put those thoughts to bed – 819bhp. With a hybrid V6 drivetrain and that power number it was clear from the off that this new 296GTB is more ‘baby SF90’ than new Dino.

The 296GTB – 2.9 litres and 6 cylinders – features a twin turbo V6 with an electric motor sitting between the engine and gearbox, sending power to the rear wheels only. Headline figures are the aforementioned 819bhp, along with 740Nm of torque, but the engine alone makes 654bhp which is mighty impressive and makes it the highest specific output road car engine on sale. There’s a tiny 7.4 kWh battery pack but that means that as a plug-in hybrid it can travel around 15 miles on EV power alone. 0-62mph takes 2.9 seconds on the way to the 205mph top speed.

Ferrari are promising the 296GTB will be the most agile and fun Ferrari in recent times which is positive news, but for us one of the biggest plus points is the styling. From the 458 to 488 and then F8 Tributo, the mid-engine Ferrari model has been getting more and more fussy, likely down to them being based on the same basic structure forcing Ferrari to get more extreme with the aero. 

But the 296GTB is a truly beautiful car, taking some styling hints at the front from the SF90 but in a much more stylish and subtle way. The big hitter styling-wise though is from the doors backwards – the rear arches are wonderfully swollen, tapering into a little flick which is near identical to the stunning classic 250LM. If from the front ¾ view you get real nods to older cars, from the rear you get pure futuristic Ferrari. 

A huge diffuser channels the air out from under the car, with the single wide central exhaust relocated to the middle of the rear. Above that are some slim LED rear lights, still with a slight double-round styling hint, and a seriously cool extending gurney flap sitting between them. The decklid shows off the new engine, while the rear window sits recessed beneath a nice roofline extension that flows into the rear buttresses, again like the 250LM. The best looking mid-engine Ferrari since the 458? Absolutely.

Many are reporting the 296GTB to be a rival to the McLaren Artura, but at a £230,000 basic price (realistically £250,000 given Ferrari’s option pricing) it’s a good £40-50,000 more than the car from Woking, not to mention almost 150bhp more. 

Maserati MC20

An all-new Maserati is a rare thing, let alone a completely new supercar, with the last being the MC12 from 2004. So it’s rather exciting that the new supercar from Modena not only looks the part, but also keeps some of the design details from its predecessor. The MC20 is a small, mid-engine rear wheel drive supercar with half the cylinder count of the MC12 but amusingly the same power output.

Visually the MC20 is fresh and stylish, with a fairly sleek looking top half and an aerodynamic and aggressive lower half. The butterfly doors add a level of drama to the whole car and the nose has some real hints to the older MC12. Inside there is a driver focused interior too and of course there’s plenty of carbon available to spec inside and out.

But the big news here is under the skin, because whereas the MC20 uses a V6 like the other cars in this article, it does so without any hybrid assistance. That’s because Maserati will be launching a fully electric version in due course, so for now we have the 3.0 litre twin turbocharged V6 ‘Nettuno’ engine sitting behind the driver. It produces 621bhp and 730Nm of torque, serious numbers for a car weighing under 1500kg. 

That power is sent to the rear wheels via a new 8-spd dual clutch gearbox, so expect lightning quick shifts. 0-62mph takes just 2.9 seconds and there’s a 202mph top speed. Initial videos we’ve seen show that the MC20 doesn’t suffer from not having a V8 aurally either, with a deep throaty V6 sound that really opens up in the higher rev ranges. 

The MC20 will cost £187,000 before options, with nice paint and some carbon that’s likely to be around £200,000.

McLaren Artura

The Artura is probably the most important car that McLaren has produced. In the short time they’ve been around they have made a lot of models, from 12C to 650S, to 570S and 720S, plus the P1, Senna, Speedtail etc, but they have had serious issues with reliability and commenters criticising them for using the same twin turbo V8 in everything they make.

Well they don’t need to worry about that now, as the Artura throws away everything that McLaren has done previously. This new model has a hybrid twin turbo V6 much like the 296GTB, but this one is 3.0 litres in size and with the electric motor produces 671bhp and 720Nm of torque. There’s a 7.4kWh battery which allows 19 miles of EV running.

Thanks to McLaren’s carbon fibre chassis, the Artura weighs in at 1395kg – staggeringly light for a hybrid car – and means that it can hit 62mph in 3.0 seconds and can top out at ‘over 200mph’ – so 201/202 then. McLaren are the only ones to give a more interesting stat though – 0-124mph in just 8.3 seconds – that’s mighty quick, though sadly we can only guess at how the Ferrari and Maserati will do over the same metric.

There has also been a lot of criticism levelled at McLaren due to most of its cars looking the same and well, the Artura doesn’t exactly break the mould. In fact to the untrained eye from the front it would be mistaken for the 570S. But look into the styling more and there are a lot of fresh design details in there – there are headlights like in the 720S incorporating a duct, with a large vertical intake below. Every Artura has wing vents too, to release pressure from the front wheel arch, body colour as standard with carbon optional.  

The side styling is a lot simpler and more classically beautiful than the 570/720, with a large intake on the rear haunch leading to a rear that is pure McLaren. Thin LED lights, central mounted exhausts, the usual fayre all done very nicely, as are the rear flying buttresses – interestingly the way those have been designed means they should be the same on the coupe and inevitable convertible. So it’s very much more of the same, but a gentle evolution of their style rather than laziness.

The Artura starts at £182,500, again with options this can be expected to rise to nearer the £200,000 region.

Summary

So although the MC20 and Artura are positioned below the current 720S/F8 ranges, Ferrari have gone all out and effectively replaced their F8 Tributo with a V6 Hybrid car. We can now expect others to follow suit – we doubt the glorious V10 engine can live on in the Lamborghini Huracan replacement even with hybrid assist, but expect to see that retain a V8 in some form, while the rumoured Audi R8 replacement is going to be a pure EV.

What is certain, is that by 2030 none of these manufacturers will be able to sell non-hybrid or EV cars by 2030 in Europe, so now is the time to pick up one of the legendary V12 and V8 engine supercars and use it.

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