In 1950, Italian automaker Lancia introduced the first mass-produced V6 engine. The company used this new engine in its top-selling vehicle, the Lancia Aurelia. After that, other automakers soon followed suit, and today the V6 is among the most common engines used in cars.
For V6 engines, the best V angle is 60° because it minimizes engine volume and vibration. Although the 60°V6 does not have the same dynamic balance as the inline-six and horizontally opposed-six, modern technology has improved engine mounts to reduce vibration.
A six-cylinder engine is a great option for vehicles that require better performance and power. Typically pegged with bells and whistles, many car manufacturers have opted for this type of engine to meet consumers' demands. With a smoother ride overall, V6 engines are more popular than ever before. As a result, today, you can find V6 engines in many different types of vehicles: sports cars (Ford GT, Nissan GT-R), luxury sport sedans (Cadillac ATS-V, Audi S4), trucks (Ford F-150 Raptor, Jeep Gladiator), and more.
Who are the greatest V6 engines of all time?
This question is highly debated by race fans and motoring magazines around the world because the answer is subjective. Everyone has their own criteria and importance that must be met.
In this article, I try to make a list of the 10 greatest V6 engines of all time. This is not a matter of ranking, simply my own subjective choices.
Ford's EcoBoost V6 is one of the best six-cylinder engines available today. The EcoBoost V6 comes in three sizes: 2.7, 3.0, and 3.5 liters, with the last delivering 660 horsepower and featuring in Ford's recently discontinued supercar, the GT.
The EcoBoost V6 engine was designed to deliver the power that Ford truck drivers expect while using less fuel and emitting fewer ozone-depleting emissions. It didn't take long for it to become well-known. Of course, Mustang EcoBoost owners get berated daily by other Mustang owners who believe their cars are superior. Still, from a purely objective point of view, there is no denying the EcoBoost V6's many talents.
With the advent of electric motors, more and more engines are receiving assistance from these motors than ever before. They are more fuel efficient and allow smaller, more economically-friendly engines to produce more power than they could not with forced induction alone. This brings us to Mercedes' brand-new hero car, the AMG One.
The Mercedes-AMG One is powered by a tiny 1.6-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine that works together with four electric motors. If this reminds you of the Petronas F1 race car, it's because the AMG One's heart is heavily inspired by it. In total, this powertrain produces more than 1,000 hp and can reach speeds of up to 350 kph (217mph), not even to mention the crazy aerodynamics that complete it's intricate engineering. No wonder it holds the record for the fastest production car around the Nurburgring!
Toyota is known for its reliability, but there are a few things you might not know about Toyota vehicles. Oftentimes, Toyota outsources its engines, but in very few instances, Toyota outsources its powertrains to sports car companies. Lotus remains the exception, though.
The Lotus Emira is one of those lucky sports cars. It features Toyota's 2GR-FE V6, but it has a supercharger strapped to it. Other, much more toned-down cars like older Camrys and Siennas also have this powertrain, but the Emira's supercharged V6 puts down 400 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.
7VW Naturally-Aspirated VR6
350 horsepower | 258 lb-ft of torque
When Volkswagen first debuted the VR6 engine in the early '90s, it was considered an innovative and unique piece of engineering. However, it wasn't until VW fitted the narrow-angle VR6 into the Corrado that it truly bloomed.
The VR6 engine was a response to the growing popularity of turbochargers in the 1980s. By placing six cylinders in a zig-zag layout on one cylinder head, the VR6 provided good power and good durability--a viable alternative to turbocharging. Although the VR6 fell out of favor after Volkswagen discontinued its Golf R32 variant with a naturally aspirated engine, its timeless design remains a work of art.
6Jaguar Supercharged AJ126 V6
380 horsepower | 332 lb-ft of torque
The AJ126 is an engine produced by Jaguar Land Rover that replaced the discontinued Ford Duratec V6 AJ engine. It's a 3.0-liter V-6 supercharged version based on the existing AJ133 5.0-liter V8 with two fewer cylinders manufactured on the same line as the AJ133.
Although not as ferocious as its V8 counterpart, the AJ126 remains a smooth engine and has a different growl. One reason people still buy F-Types with V6 engines, apart from the price difference, of course, is because of the musical hints of classic Jags found in their six-cylinder engines.
5Nissan VR38DETT V6
710 horsepower | 575 lb-ft of torque
In 2007, Japan unveiled the R35 Nissan GT-R to the public. This marvel of technology was the latest in vehicle engineering and has proven itself time and time again as one of the best sports cars ever made. The VR38DETT is the core of this masterpiece. It's a 3.8-liter V6 with at least 480 hp at its disposal. With every succeeding engine change, the figure only gets pushed further.
The GT-R did 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds when it was released. But as time went on, that figure became smaller. Nowadays, the GT-R explodes to 60 mph and wipes out the quarter mile in under 12 seconds. Apart from its gorgeous appearance and performance potential, people adored (and still do) the GT-R because Nissan improved it by hand every now and then.
The Alfa Romeo V6 engine, nicknamed "Busso" after its creator, the great Alfa Romeo engineer Giuseppe Busso, has a rich history behind its existence. Not only is it one of the greatest-looking engines in the entire world and one of the best-sounding ones too, but it also helped Alfa Romeo win several races during the 1930s.
The legendary Busso V6 engine is so revered among fans of Alfa Romeo that it often boosts the car's market value. However, in 2005, the Busso V6's production finally came to an end after the 166 and GT coupe phased out. Within a few days of the last Alfa V6 being built, Giuseppe Busso, the engine designer, died at age 93.
3Honda C30A V6
270 horsepower | 210 lb-ft of torque
The latest Honda NSX is a masterpiece of engineering that packs the latest technology. One of its most impressive features is its hybrid technological advantage, which lets you choose between an internal combustion engine or an electric motor. Although this car has been discontinued, we can still praise its ancestor--the original NSX--that shook the earth back in the day.
In 1991, Honda introduced the NSX to the US market, and it was their first-ever supercar. It also featured Honda's first use of an all-aluminum body shell, as well as their first use of VTEC (variable valve time technology) in America. In addition, it was powered by a 270 hp DOHC 3.0-liter V6 engine that sounds similar to an F1 race car.
In the late 1960s, Ferrari planned to create a separate series of mid-engine, six-cylinder cars named after Enzo Ferrari's late son, Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari. Under the Ferrari moniker, V12-powered front-engine road cars would continue to leave Maranello. In 1955, Dino had proposed to his father a V6 engine for Formula Two racing; it finished an impressive third in the Grand Prix of Naples.
Dino would never see the engine, as he died of illness at the age of 24 in 1956. However, Dino's incredible six-cylinder engine found its way into multiple cars, not only Ferraris. In the Lancia Stratos, a mid-engine sports car with a chassis designed by Bertone, Ferrari's Dino V6 engine showed the world exactly what a Ferrari V6 could do when it was set free from its usual confines.
The world doesn't stand still. You have to be one step ahead of it, constantly evolving to the circumstances around you. And that's what Alfa Romeo did when it phased out its naturally-aspirated Busso V6 engine and replaced it with a twin-turbo V6 called the 690T. The 690T is based on a Ferrari engine - in fact, Ferrari engineers helped develop it.
The 690T V6 engine is found under Alfa Romeo's current hero cars, the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio. With 505 hp at its disposal, it is a thing of beauty that sings the sweetest of songs. It arguably is the best engine, let alone V6, in production today.