The V8 engine is arguably the best powerplant a passenger vehicle can have. This engine configuration is relatively light and compact, so it can go in the front, middle or back of the car. The V8 engine always provides a healthy amount of power, torque and performance. It is the best unit for powering sports cars. Besides the performance, a V8 can produce a lot of torque, which is crucial for trucks and other working vehicles.
Although there are other, more advanced engine configurations like those V10 or V12 cylinder units, the V8 is still the king. It represents the perfect balance between cost of production and quality. For those who don’t know, the V8 engine got its name because it comes with eight cylinders in a V shape with the angle between the cylinder heads. The first mass-produced V8 engine was Ford`s famous Flathead V8 in 1932. After that, almost all major car manufacturers presented V8 engines with various displacements or power levels.
Even though V8 engines use more fuel than six-cylinder units, there are many V8 choices on the market today. It is safe to say that drivers live in the golden age of V8 power. There are so many V8 engines domestic car makers offer, as well as foreign companies, too.
Here is a list of 14 best modern V8s. Some of the engines you may already know or possibly have in your car or truck. They have discontinued some engines, but still are available in slightly used cars. Some are exotics, and some are common U.S.-built V8 units. However, all those engines represent the pinnacle of engineering excellence regarding power, performance and sound, which is one of the best characteristics of any V8.
14. Chevrolet 6.2-liter LT4 Supercharged V8
What is the greatest feature of the new Corvette C7 Z06, aside from a great chassis, design and legacy? It’s the small block 6.2-liter V8 engine with a big supercharger on top. It provides 650 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque, which is an astonishing number. This LT4 engine is the evolution of a long line of Chevrolet’s small-block engines dating back to 1955.
Despite the advanced technology other manufacturers use, Chevrolet is still faithful to its simple yet effective formula. It includes a single camshaft and valve lifters. In comparison to some other high tech V8s on this list, Chevrolet’s solution may seem primitive, but there is no denying the results. A combination of classic analog engineering with a massive supercharger equals 650 HP, smoky burnouts and a true V8 legend.
13. Ford Voodoo V8
The renaissance of American performance in 2010 brought many fantastic engines from all domestic car brands. Chevrolet has its line of fantastic LS and ZL-1 small block V8s and Dodge has its mighty hemis. Ford presented a modern, powerful 5.0 V8 called the Coyote in 2010. It featured modern components, variable valve timing systems, 32-valve heads and much more.
But, despite the Coyote being fantastic, the Voodoo V8 took the crown for one of the best modern Ford engines. It is also one of the best production units in America. With 5.2-liters of displacement, they based the Voodoo on the Coyote V8 architecture, but just barely. Ford’s SVT team gave it some different components and characteristics.
First, the Voodoo features a flat plain crankshaft which is an exotic solution for a muscle car engine. Second, it has newly designed high flow heads and forged pistons. And third, it has heavy-duty internals and exhaust systems. The results are fascinating. The Voodoo delivers 526 HP, which is more than 100 HP per liter of displacement.
The red line is at 8,250 rpm, which is unbelievable for a V8 engine. The Voodoo is the most advanced muscle car engine with technology equal to exotic European cars. Presently, the Voodoo is only available in the Shelby GT350 and its more powerful, lighter GT350 R variant.
12. Mercedes 4.0-Liter M178 Twin Turbo
V8 engines don’t need forced induction. But the quest for fuel efficiency and emission standards and the everlasting need for performance has forced manufacturers to produce turbocharged and supercharged units. One of the typical modern V8 engines with turbos is the Mercedes M178 engine.
You can find the M178 in several Mercedes models including the new AMG GT sports car. The M178 is a compact, lightweight unit. With just 4.0-liters of displacement and a clever way of mounting its turbochargers, this V8 could fit anywhere. Mercedes installed both turbochargers between the engine heads and below the intake system.
This way, the width of the engine is much smaller, but there are two problems. One is the amount of heat the engine produces with two turbochargers in the same place, and second is complicated servicing. In any case, Mercedes engineers seemed to successfully solve both of those problems. They have proven the M178 is a durable, strong unit delivering 577 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque.
11. Ford 6.8-Liter Power Stroke V8
The only diesel engine on this list is the Power Stroke V8, which Ford produced from 2011 to 2015 to install in their trucks. International Harvester produced the previous generation of Ford diesel engines, but they weren’t good. This resulted in Ford getting many complaints about that engine and its quality. So, the company decided to design the next generation in-house and iron out all its flaws. Although it isn’t a brand new V8, you still can find them on dealer lots all over America and with low mileage, too
The 2011 Power Stroke was tougher than any other V8 diesel engine on the market. They fixed the fuel and intake systems and the new powerplant delivered 390 HP and 738 lb-ft of torque. Besides big power and great performance, the 6.7-Liter Power Stroke V8 delivered efficient fuel economy. It was also quiet running and powered anywhere in its rev range. After the 2015 upgrade, which included a new turbo and engine management system, the fantastic V8 diesel delivered 440 HP and massive 860 lb-ft of torque.
10. Radical 2.7L RPE V8
Have you ever heard of the Radical V8? No one can blame you since Radical is a tiny British car manufacturer that produces sports and race track cars. They base their engines on Suzuki motorcycle units. This may sound strange, but the Radical has one of the most interesting, highest revving V8s in the car industry. This makes it a sure contender on this list.
The basis for the Radical 2.7-liter V8 is two Suzuki straight four motorcycle engines. When combined, they make a V8, retaining all of the motorcycle engine characteristics. This engine makes the Radical 2.7-liter V8 rev up to 10,500 rpm and delivers 405 HP. Such a small, high revving engine can`t have big torque figures. However, in the case of Radical cars, torque is not important, since their SR8 model weighs only 1,600 pounds.
9. McLaren 4.0-liter M840T Twin Turbo
When McLaren introduced its 650S model featuring a brand new 3.8-liter V8 unit, the whole automotive world was caught by storm. The combination of the McLaren design, a perfectly tuned chassis and the turbocharged V8 was unbeatable.
Today, there is a new model, the 720S, which features a brand new 4.0-liter V8 with same basic construction. But, it has over 40 percent new parts and components. And, you guessed it, it is sublimely good. The power output is 710 HP and 568 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to launch the new McLaren sports car to fantastic speeds.
McLaren is one of the first companies to introduce downsized and turbocharged V8 engines. And with this unit, they prove that this famous British sports car and racing outfit is still at the forefront of the V8 technology.
8. Mercedes 6.2-liter M156/159 V8
They discontinued this glorious V8 and replaced it with the fantastic M178 already featured on this list. But, this naturally aspirated unit is so good and since they installed it in so many models up to 2014, this makes it modern and available on the used car market.
The secret of the M156/159 is its great construction. This is a classic, sporty V8 engine with 6.2-liters, perfect block and head construction, high revving capacity and 571 to 631 HP on tap. This was the first engine AMG designed on its own. Besides the guaranteed performance and speed, this engine had one of the best soundtracks of all time, achieving it without any sound enhancers.
Basically, the M156/159 was the last great classic V8. The engines that succeeded it had either smaller displacement or forced induction to achieve the same power level. They produced this engine in large numbers since they installed in 10 Mercedes models, including the mighty compact C63 AMG sedan and the SLS AMG sports car.
7. Chrysler 6.2-Liter SRT Hellcat Supercharged V8
One of the meanest, scariest engines on this list must be Chrysler’s crazy 6.2-liter supercharged hemi. Chrysler produced these V8s for their Hellcat versions of the Challenger and Charger. This engine pushes the boundaries of not only Hemi design but the concept of a street legal V8.
With 707 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque on tap, the Hellcat Hemi propels any car to sublime speeds in just a couple of seconds. This is the final and most powerful version of Chrysler’s 5.7-liter Hemi which debuted in 2003. The secret of the Hemi engine is its cylinder head, which is bigger and hemispherical; hence the name. This concept allows the engine to burn more fuel at higher rpm delivering more power.
Even though the basic 5.7 Hemi was a decent engine, Chrysler`s engineers wanted more. With the help of larger displacement block and 2.4-liter supercharger unit, they got the monstrous 707 HP that clearly deserves the nickname, “Hellcat.” However, car fans are afraid that this is the last time they will see crazy engines like this. The trend is downsizing and the Hellcat Hemi could be the last great American V8.
6. BMW 4.4-liter S6344TU Twin Turbo V8
Behind this long, uninspiring name is a world-class V8 powerplant responsible for the stellar performance of the BMW M5, X5 M and X6 M. In the language of numbers, this 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 delivers 575 HP and 500 lb-ft of torque.
It is quite odd to see a twin turbo V8 from BMW. BMW is a company they built on the straight six naturally aspirated engine. However, modern times ask for different engines and BMW must deliver to stay on top of the car world. This highly advanced unit includes light materials and has two turbochargers; one for each side of the engine.
Despite producing enough power to make the M5 one of the fastest sedans in the world, a group of enthusiasts discovered the S6344TU delivers even more horsepower than advertised. Independent dyno testing shows this twin turbo V8 produces up to 620 HP, which is more than the 575 HP the factory claims.
5. Koenigsegg 5.0-liter Spyker V8
The Swedish hypercar manufacturer, Koenigsegg produces bespoke low flying jets of a car with unbelievable power levels and obsessive attention to details. Also, they are known for producing their own engines, which every knowledgeable car fan appreciates.
Their latest creation is a 5.0-liter V8 which they will produce in naturally aspirated, as well as turbocharged versions. The N/A variant will deliver 600 HP and will go in the new Spyker model. The version with forced induction will power the new Koenigsegg supercar. The same engine when turbocharged delivers 1,350 HP in the Koenigsegg One:1 model. The factory even claims that this powerplant could produce as much as 1,500 HP with special fuel for an added boost.
An interesting thing about Koenigsegg engine production is that the company experiments with engine heads without the camshafts. It will be interesting to see future V8s they equip with this system.
4. Ferrari 3.9-liter F154 Twin Turbo V8
Although Ferrari is best known for its naturally aspirated V12 engines, one driver favorite is their twin turbo V8. The 3.9-liter unit is in several Ferrari models, including the sublimely good 488 GTB and the practical, capable GTC4 Lusso.
However, since Ferrari is a part of Fiat, several more models use the same engine, although in a different form. The Maserati Quattroporte GTS uses the F154, as well as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. However, in the Alfa Romeo, engineers cut two cylinders off, turning the V8 into a V6 with a slightly smaller displacement.
The numbers are astonishing. This twin turbo mill is capable of delivering 661 HP and revving to 8,000 rpm. Ferrari was one of the first major sports car companies to embrace forced induction, so future versions of this engine will have even more power.
3. Jaguar 5.0-liter SVR Supercharged V8
As a luxury and performance car manufacturer, Jaguar needs powerful engines. So, the basis for their top V8 engine was the AJ133 V8. This engine debuted in 2009 and you can find it in many regular Jaguars and Land Rovers.
However, to attract customers who wanted both performance and speed, Jaguar attached the big Eaton supercharger and reinforced the engine’s internals. This created an all-out performance monster to deliver 575 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque. Those are quite respectable numbers for an all-alloy, supercharged V8.
Interestingly, the design of the block and the heads allow more development. Since Jaguar is always craving more power and better performance numbers, you can expect an even better version soon.
2. Lexus/Toyota 2UR-GSE 5.0-liter V8
The new Lexus LC 500 coupe is one magnificent driving machine. The design and the technology are fascinating, but the big part of its appeal is the engine. In days of supercharging and turbocharging, Lexus decided to go the traditional way and introduce a magnificent, naturally aspirated V8 with 5.0-liters of displacement.
The alloy V8 delivers 471 HP and 398 lb-ft of torque. Even though those numbers are somewhat smaller than the rest of the engines on this list, the 2UR-GSE has a high-revving capacity. It also has the VVTi system and it is lightweight. That is enough to provide a vivid performance to the Lexus LC 500 coupe.
1. Nissan 5.6-liter VK56VD V8
Available in various Nissan and Infiniti products, this V8 powerplant is not your average performance engine. But that is not why it is featured on this list. This engine is a perfect balance between performance, durability and practicality. You can find it in performance models, as well as in big SUVs and trucks.
They made the VK56VD out of light alloy materials, so it features 5.6-liters of displacement. The power ranges from 390 HP to 420 HP, depending on the application. In Australia, Nissan races in the V8 Supercar championship where those engines deliver up to 650 HP in race tune.
The quality of Nissan’s V8 also shined when they installed in the Titan pickup truck. In the Titan, this light but powerful unit shows its true nature. It is also durable and trouble free for many miles, despite the hard working conditions.
These are the best modern V8 engines today, but keep your eyes open for future updates to this famous horsepower powerhouse.