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V8 cars strong in showrooms

Surprisingly Mercedes-Benz is runner-up to Holden in the muscle-car stakes with four V8's and three turbocharged choices.

Holden leads with 12 models plus 10 HSVs, all of which are naturally aspirated. Ford was second, before it deleted all its XR8 models and handed the V8 exclusively keys to FPV which has nine supercharged V8s in its Falcons.

So it's now - surprisingly - Mercedes-Benz that is runner-up to Holden in the muscle-car stakes, with 12 models, four different V8 capacities and three turbocharged choices.

Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says the number will increase with the introduction of the E 63 AMG estate with twin turbo later this year.

"And that's in response to customer demand," he says.

McCarthy calculates that V8 sales represent about $200 million a year in AMG and $50 million in other models.

"A quarter of a billion dollars is a pretty sizeable chunk of our business."

He says V8s account for about 10 per cent of sales in most classes, except the super-costly CL 500 which is 20 per cent.

"That will probably change a little when we release the CL 500 bi-turbo."

McCarthy says the future looks good for V8s.

"The reason for that is that technology is delivering lower emissions and better fuel economy without sacrificing power," he says.

The ranks of the supercars are surprisingly not dominated by V8s, but by bigger cylinder capacities. For example, all Lamborghinis are either V10 or V12. The most expensive V8 in Australia is the $526,950 Ferrari 458 Italia with a 419kW 4499cc V8. If you can still find one, the cheapest is the Falcon XR8 ute with a 290kW 5408cc V8 starting at $41,690.

The most powerful is the 420kW 6208cc V8 in the Mercedes-Benz SLS ($468,820) which has just 1kW more than the 458 Italia. Least powerful V8 is the 250kW 5.7-litre HEMI in the Chrysler 300C ($46,000), although the SRT version is a healthy 317kW.