From pony cars like the Ford Mustang to exotica like the Ferrari Roma, V8 engines have been chosen as they typically provide an ideal combination of power and smoothness. And let’s not forget their terrific sound!
More recently, increasingly restrictive regulations have discouraged manufacturers from introducing new models that are affordably priced and equipped with a V8 engine.
With the demise of the locally-manufactured Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore V8s and their fettled FPV and HSV variants, the number of affordable V8 options was significantly reduced. More recently, these vehicles were followed out the door by the Chrysler 300 SRT and Lexus RC F.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and Trackhawk are also no longer available. A 5.7-litre V8 engine is available in the new WL Grand Cherokee in North America, but it has yet to be confirmed for Australia. That means the 5.7-litre S-Limited of the current WK2 series mightn’t be directly replaced.
The Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series with its twin-turbo V8 diesel has made way for the twin-turbo V6 diesel-powered 300 Series, though you can still get a diesel V8 in the LandCruiser 70 Series – not that it’s all that powerful by today’s standards.
V8 engines are therefore becoming increasingly restricted to more niche segments and higher price points, and often paired with some form of electrification to reduce fuel consumption. Such models include the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E-Performance.
Nevertheless, there remain several options currently available for those who want the most bang for their buck and are willing to spend up to $150,000. We’re about to lose one more, though, as Mercedes-AMG switches from a twin-turbo V8 for its C63 to a plug-in hybrid turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain.
Here are the most powerful V8-powered vehicles available in Australia for under $150,000. All prices described in this article are before on-road costs.
BMW X5, X6 M50i and M550i (all Pure variants)
With sedans and SUVs equipped with V8 engines available under the $150,000 mark, BMW offers arguably the greatest variety of options of any manufacturer listed here. In slightly decontented ‘Pure’ specification, the X5 M50i SUV and its coupé sibling, the X6 M50i, as well as the M550i sedan, all share the Bavarian brand’s N63 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 and slide under this price point.
Producing a substantial 390kW of power at 6000rpm and 750Nm of torque over a wide band from 1800-4600rpm, this engine can accelerate the M550i sedan from 0-100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, whilst the heavier and less aerodynamic X5 and X6 SUVs take 4.3 seconds to reach the same benchmark.
The original design for the N63 engine was introduced in the late 2000s in models such as the original BMW X6 and the fifth-generation 7 Series, and it’s one of the earliest mass-produced V8 engines to adopt a ‘hot-vee’ layout. This means both turbochargers are placed inside the ‘vee’ of the engine to reduce turbo-lag and improve throttle response.
Claimed combined cycle fuel consumption is rated as 11.5L/100km for both the X5 and X6 SUVs, and a slightly better 10.7L/100km for the M550i sedan. Prices range from $139,900 for the M550i Pure sedan, to $142,900 for the X5 M50i and $148,900 for the X6 M50i.
Chevrolet Corvette and Silverado
With the C8 Corvette being a mid-engined sports car claiming to offer cut-price supercar performance and handling, and the Silverado being a full-size pickup truck, on paper it may seem that the two share very little. One thing they do have in common is offering very powerful naturally-aspirated V8 engines.
Sneaking in under the $150,000 mark at $144,990, the Corvette Stingray coupé in 2LT specification features a naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 making 369kW of power at 6450rpm, paired with 637Nm of torque at 5150rpm.
Known by the LT2 engine code, this V8 still uses an older pushrod (rather than overhead cam) design but is equipped with some modern technologies including variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, whereby the engine runs in four-cylinder mode when under low stress to conserve fuel.
With a claimed acceleration from 0-100 km/h of just 3.1 seconds, the Corvette is the fastest car in this story.
The Silverado LT Trail Boss and LTZ Premium share a 6.2-litre engine from the same engine family, and produce 313kW of power and 624Nm of torque. They’re priced at $106,990 and $114,990 respectively, and use 12.3L/100km on the combined cycle.
In contrast, the larger Silverado HD LTZ Premium, priced identically to the Corvette above, swaps out the 6.2-litre engine for a 6.6-litre turbo-diesel Duramax V8 engine.
Although power figures are up only slightly with 332kW at 2800rpm, the main advantage of this engine is its immense torque: 1234Nm from just 1600rpm. Unsurprisingly, towing capability is the Silverado HD’s strong suit, and it can haul a trailer of up to 4.5 tonnes.
Jaguar F-Pace SVR
Jaguar as a brand is famous for its sports cars and GT coupés but although an F-Type equipped with a V8 engine isn’t available under the $150,000 barrier, the same engine can be had cloaked in a different, more practical body.
The F-Pace SVR makes use of Jaguar’s famous 5.0-litre supercharged V8, producing 405kW of power at 6500rpm combined with 700Nm of torque over a broad spread from 3500-5000rpm. Claimed fuel consumption sits at 11.7L/100km on the combined cycle.
Mated to a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox from German specialist ZF, arguably one of the most compelling features of this powerplant is its supercharger whine.
A recent facelift has yielded additional improvements in steering and brake pedal feel. These tweaks help to further bolster the performance credentials of the F-Pace SVR, which can tackle the school-run and winding country roads with equal poise.
The F-Pace SVR is priced from $145,146 before on-road costs.
Ford Mustang GT
Ford defined the relatively inexpensive pony car category in the 1960s, and the current Mustang continues this trend by being the most affordable option on this list still available with a powerful V8 engine.
Available with a roaring ‘Coyote’ naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine producing 339kW of power and 556Nm of torque at 7000rpm and 4600rpm respectively, entry into the V8 Mustang range is priced from just $65,290, substantially cheaper than any other option in this story.
The Mustang GT remains the only V8 option under the $150,000 barrier that is also available with a manual transmission (a 10-speed automatic is optionally available). It can also be had as a convertible, albeit only with the automatic, allowing you to take in more of that sonorous engine note.
Combined cycle fuel economy is 13L/100km with the six-speed manual and 12.7L/100km with the auto.
MY22 changes include the introduction of a ‘California Special’ appearance package and new paint colours, though the hotter Mach 1 is now gone.
In big four-wheel drives and utes, Australians love diesel engines. That perhaps partly explains why the current Y62-series Nissan Patrol has never been able to match the vaunted Toyota LandCruiser in the sales race, as its sole engine is a petrol V8.
It used to go up against a twin-turbo diesel V8 in the LandCruiser 200 Series, but that model’s replacement comes with a twin-turbo diesel V6. That leaves the Patrol as the only SUV of this size not hailing from a luxury brand to offer V8 power, as we miss out on the likes of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and Jeep Wagoneer here.
The Patrol uses a naturally-aspirated 5.6-litre V8 engine producing 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. It’s thirsty, with a combined cycle fuel economy rating of 14.4L/100km.
Even with the latest price increase, the Patrol still comfortably undercuts its rival, particularly when you compare the models spec-for-spec. The range opens at $82,160 before on-roads.
Australians love the great outdoors and towing, and our vast size means that full-sized American pick-up trucks are increasingly gaining popularity as a capable, comfortable family vehicle and hauler.
Rivalling the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the Ram 1500, equipped as standard with a ‘Hemi’ V8 engine and capable of towing up to 4.5 tonnes. The 1500 line-up consists of the older DS series, available in Express and Warlock guises, and the redesigned DT that comes in Laramie and Limited trims.
Prices range from $89,950 for the base 1500 Express to $142,950 for the more generously equipped 1500 Limited. While there’s a wider range of engines available overseas, here there’s just a 5.7-litre petrol V8 producing 291kW of power at 5600rpm and 556Nm of torque at 3950rpm.
Like the Silverado’s V8, it’s a pushrod design equipped with cylinder deactivation technology to help achieve a fuel consumption of 12.2L/100km on the combined cycle.