Johannesburg - As far as petrolhead indulgences go, few things beat the bad-tempered, guttural growl of a good V8 engine.

Yet these days things are not looking good for the V8. It’s not dead yet, but given how quickly the industry is extracting more power from much smaller engine configurations, it shouldn’t be long before the lusty eight-cylinder engine block is strapped to life support machines in the automotive ICU.

The result of this downsizing trend that an eight-cylinder engine is becoming an even more gentrified proposition. Consider that just five years ago, one could buy a V8-engined sedan, in the form of a Chevrolet Lumina SSV, for just R484 900, and there were in fact seven V8 cars on sale for under R900 000. Today, as you’ll see in the list below, there is but one.

Since we’re tackling this from an enthusiast’s perspective, we’ve left the SUVs out of the equation, which includes a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Infiniti QX70 and Mercedes GLE, and we’ve also stuck to petrol power. 

And no, there is no such thing as even a semi-affordable V8 anymore, but what you see below are the ones that’ll do the least damage to your bank balance.

1. Ford Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback

Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 306kW/530Nm

Price: R852 900

It took a while for America’s ‘blue-collar’ sportscar to reach South Africa and though it is your easiest entry into the V8 club, it’s still priced on the premium side at R852 900 for the manual and R873 900 for the auto.

From there it’s not much of a stretch to Audi’s far more sophisticated S5, but if what you’re really after is a bad-ass muscle car with the attitude and head-turning presence to go with it, then there’s no touching the Mustang. Unless your name is Chuck Norris.

2. Ford Mustang 5.0 GT Convertible auto

Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 306kW/530Nm

Price: R935 900

If you want all of of the aforementioned with the top down, then Ford also offers a Mustang Convertible for R935 900.

But you don’t want all of the aforementioned with the top down because once you’ve removed the roof, the Mustang is about as badass as a Teletubby onesie. Stick to the tin-top.

3. Audi S6 Sedan

Engine: 4.0-litre turbopetrol - 331kW/550Nm

Price: R1 161 500

Audi’s S6 is getting on in life, but with 331kW and 550Nm from its four-litre TFSI turbopetrol and quattro all-wheel drive, plus the signature refinement and comfort of Audi’s interior trim, and plenty of gizmotronics, you get plenty of bang for all those bucks.

Be careful how deep you plunge into Audi’s options catalogue, however, you could easily push the price right off this list.

4. Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan

Engine: 4.0-litre turbopetrol - 350kW/650Nm

Price: R1 211 908

The current generation of Affalterbach's hand-built V8s are no longer the mink-lined sledgehammers of old. This smooth-running, high-revving four-litre V8 has the turbos mounted in the V for compactness, and adds impressively accessible performance to Mercedes-Benz' C-Class quality trim and finish.

A compact performance sedan for grownups.

5. Audi S7 Sportback

Engine: 4.0-litre turbopetrol - 331kW/550Nm

Price: R1 295 500

R134 000 extra buys you everything that the Audi S6 has, plus huge style, a huge cargo bay (you really can't call it a boot) and one of the most dramatic roof-lines in the the business.

It's one of the sexiest family cars on the market, with one of the most refined V8s; you are, however, paying extra for the styling.

6. Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupé

Engine: 4.0-litre turbopetrol - 350kW

Price: R1 342 246

Two-door C-Class blitzbomb does everything the sedan does, but with extra flair and the cachet that goes with telling the world you no longer need to be practical in your choice of car.

Same enjoyment, more status - what's not to like?

7. Mercedes-Benz CLS 500 

Engine: 4.7-litre turbopetrol - 300kW/600Nm

Price: R1 344 306

Almost five litres of Stuttgart muscle, topped off with two conventionally mounted turbos, under the bonnet of Mercedes' dramatic CLS-Class fastback body. It lacks the sledgehammer performance of the C63 but with more space, more luxury and (dare we say it) oodles more style.

A timeless design for those who dare to be different.

8. Mercedes-AMG C63 S Sedan

Engine: 4.0-litre turbopetrol - 375kW/700Nm

Price: R1 360 250

Compared with the aforementioned ‘standard’ C63, R148 342 gets you an extra 25kW - that's almost R6000 a kilowatt. Difficult to justify, except for a certain seat-of-the-pants dynamic, thanks to uprated engine mounts and differential, that will be worth every cent to those that enjoy track sessions.

If we have to explain it to you, go for the standard model.

V8s weren’t always playing so hard to get

As mentioned, just five years ago, there was a whole bunch of V8 cars that could be procured on the friendly side of a million bucks.

In case you were wondering, here they are:

1. Chevrolet Lumina SSV sedan R484 900
2. Chrysler 300C SRT8 R629 990
3. Audi S5 coupé (V8 manual) R664 460
4. Jaguar XF 5.0 Premium Luxury R796 500
5. BMW M3 coupé (V8 manual) R866 963
6. BMW 550i R887 431
7. Mercedes-Benz E500 Elegance sedan R899 000

Special thanks to Duoporta for the vehicle rankings.

IOL Motoring

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