Cars with inline 6 engines are well-liked not only for their excellent power delivery and inherent balance but also for their fantastic sound. Straight engines, as opposed to V engines, can deliver outstanding results with very simple construction.
Given that it has been incorporated into numerous iconic cars of legendary reputation, the inline-6 deserves a lot more credit for what it is genuinely capable of. Choosing an engine comes with its own set of trade-offs.
Because pistons don’t know any better and the amount of torque generated won’t change from one configuration to the next. But it can alter the car’s characteristics. The engine design has a significant impact on a car’s personality.
This includes both objective characteristics like the car’s exhaust note and physical characteristics like weight balance.
- Inline-6 vs V6 Engines
- Inline-6 Engine
- V6 Engine
- Best Inline-6 Engines
- Most Powerful Cars With Inline-6 Engines
- Best New Cars With Inline-6 Engines
- Final Conclusion
Inline 6 vs V6
The majority of today’s mid- and full-size vehicles of every segment use six-cylinder engines. The most popular six-cylinder configuration today is the V6, yet inline six or straight six engines were the only option for many years.
Some of the most valiant vehicles ever built have been powered by six-cylinder engines. The Jaguar E-Type, Toyota Supra, Nissan Skyline GT-R, and BMW M3 were all powered by inline-six engines.
Meanwhile, heroes like the Honda NSX, Nissan GT-R R35, and Lancia Stratos have had V6 engines. Over time, both of these six-cylinder engine variants have become indelible parts of the automotive psyche.
The inline-six and V6 engines have a few significant differences. In V6 engines, for instance, the number of cylinders on each bank causes vibration issues. This issue has been addressed in various ways by various manufacturers. This has lowered the drawbacks over time and promoted the arrangement’s wider adoption.
The V-arrangement frequently weighs less and produces greater torque at higher speeds. They also boast decreased friction and are typically more efficient. Additionally, they come in handy in front-wheel-drive cars.
This is because an inline-six engine cannot effortlessly fit and be connected to a transmission while powering the front wheels as it is simply too long. Unfortunately, the straight-six engine’s heyday appears to be in the past.
These days, they’re hard to find because automakers now prefer turbocharged V6s for their performance models. This is because they provide V8 levels of power in a smaller package. However, many enthusiasts favor the inline configuration to the V.
We’ll walk you through each’s history, explain why you would prefer one over the other, and provide you examples. On top of that, we’ve also compared the V6 vs V8 engine, so you could see which layout suits you best.
Inline 6 Engine
In the early 20th century, the automotive manufacturing industry started to expand tremendously. Larger engines were being developed to power faster cars. The earliest commercially produced engines had an inline four-cylinder configuration. Hence, the addition of two additional cylinders was a logical next step to boost power.
The inline six-cylinder engine has six cylinders arranged in a straight line along the crankcase, each of which drives a single crankshaft. Because the cylinders are organized in a straight line, they are known as straight or in-line engines.
This arrangement results in a tidy and straightforward design. There is no need for separate heads or valve trains because the cylinders are in line. In a V-configuration engine, the cylinders are offset from one another.
As opposed to a straight-six, a V6 would need to employ twice as many smaller camshafts to open and close its valves. This means there are fewer moving components in an inline-6 and, simply, there are fewer things that could go wrong.
Inline 6 Firing Order
In a multi-cylinder reciprocating engine, the firing order refers to the order in which each cylinder delivers power. This is accomplished by firing the spark plugs in the proper order in a gasoline engine or by timing the fuel injection in a diesel engine.
Proper firing order must be chosen when constructing an engine. This is important to reduce vibration, achieve smooth operation, as well as ensure long engine life and user comfort. It also has a significant impact on crankshaft design. An engine’s firing order is the order in which each cylinder experiences a power event.
Although the firing orders in inline engines can vary slightly, most firing orders are set up so that the cylinder firing is dispersed uniformly around the crankshaft. The typical firing order for straight-six engines is 1-5-3-6-2-4, which yields ideal primary and secondary balance.
The front and rear trio of cylinders move in pairs (although 360° out of phase). This cancels out the existing rocking motion and provides the primary balance. The crank throws in an inline-6 are positioned in three planes that are 120° apart.
Hence the secondary balance is obtained by the nonsinusoidal forces summing to zero for all free forces up to the sixth order.
Before the first V6 engine debuted in 1950, about 50 years had passed. They evolved somewhat out of necessity since inline engines took up more space in the engine compartment. The cylinders of a V-configuration are tilted away from one another at an angle; V6s typically have 60- or 90-degree layouts.
Inline engines are nearly always installed longitudinally, or in a line from front to back, driving the rear wheels. V6 engines, on the other hand, are smaller and have three cylinders on each of the two banks that are joined in the middle. Either the front wheels or the rear wheels can be easily driven by the V6.
The engine is just three cylinders long but wider. Hence a V6 may fit into a car with an engine bay that is roughly the same length as a four-cylinder. This gives smaller cars access to the extra power that six-cylinder engines typically offer.
V6s continue to be used in a lot of performance vehicles because of their adaptability to various platforms. A V6 may be turbocharged to produce up to 500 horsepower, and manufacturers frequently offer twin-turbo V6 configurations as an alternative to heavier V8 engines.
Best Inline 6 Engine
V and Inline engines are the most prevalent engine types available. V-type engines are renowned for their power and sound, particularly in 8-cylinder configurations, while inline types are typically thought of as the less expensive and more practical option. Smaller, Inline-4 motors are the model that most often represents the category.
An inline-6 engine can deliver outstanding performance with a simpler construction compared to V engines. The inline-6 deserves a lot more respect for what it is genuinely capable of. This is evident as it is used in many iconic cars. These are the best examples of inline-6 engines ever made, which helps to demonstrate that fact.
What more needs to be said about the fabled 2JZ engine than the fact that it powered the OG Supra and could be modified to produce absolutely absurd amounts of power? This engine is among the most iconic inline-6s out there in terms of performance and sound. It is obviously a favorite among tuners and JDM enthusiasts.
This engine was not originally designed for the Supra. Introduced in 1991, the Toyota Aristo, also known as the Lexus GS300 outside of Japan, was the first vehicle to sport the 2JZ. The 2JZ is a 3.0 L engine that can be found in cars like the Lexus SC300 and IS300 without a turbo.
But it is best famous for its use in the Supra’s twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE model. The 2JZ is perhaps the best inline-6 ever fitted to a sports car and is a prime choice for swapping into other vehicles to produce wicked power. Credit goes to its amazing sound, respectable reliability, and abundance of potential.
So, if you want a 2JZ but can’t afford the monstrous cost of a Supra, be sure to take a peek at our write-up on what Lexus has a 2JZ. As well as, the Lexus IS300 with a 2JZ. While it might not be equivalent to a Supra, it’s pretty close to the experience.
The RB26, the esteemed Godzilla engine, is the pinnacle of Nissan’s RB engine line. Offering some of the most jaw-dropping JDM engine sounds as well as truly tremendous performance potential. The RB series, which was first seen with the R31 series Skyline, evolved into the RB26 for the legendary R32 generation in 1989.
The RB26DETT version of this engine was only available in the Skyline GT-R and temporarily in the Stagea wagon based on the Skyline. This one on paper met the “Gentleman’s Agreement” 276 horsepower requirement, although it is commonly known that it really produced more.
The R32, R33 GTR, and R34 generation GT-Rs are all tuner classics with this iconic inline-6, proving that the RB26 can handle lots of power modification. But, before you contemplate getting one, make sure you also check out our guide on how much is a Skyline R34, and is a Nissan Skyline R34 legal in the US.
Oh, and we also looked at how much is a GTR R35. Sure, it’s much newer, more expensive, and has a V6 instead of an inline-6. But, if you want something more up-to-date, it’s worth checking out.
Not just one of Jaguar’s iconic vehicles, but a whole fleet, was powered by the XK6 engine, which had an absurdly lengthy lifespan. One of the best iconic British engines, the XK6 is found in everything from military tanks to the E-Type.
The XK6 engine, which was first released back in 1948, was used in nearly every classic Jaguar of the ensuing decades. This includes the C and D-Type Le Man’s racers. Oh, and it won the LeMans as well; consecutively three times – 1956. 1957. 1958. It also powered the legendary stunning and ground-breaking speedster known as the XK120.
The XK6 engine evolved graciously and was manufactured right up until 1992, making it one of the longest-lasting engines available. It was also employed across various varieties of vehicles such as the E-Type, XJ sedan, and many more.
The XK6 is one of the best inline-6 engines ever produced and is also used in the Alvis Scimitar light tank.
Despite not being a frequently used engine in the BMW lineup, the M88 might be regarded as one of the best. This is mainly due to the legacy it left behind and the incredible power it could produce. BMW’s M88 3.5-liter inline-six is one of the best car engines of all time.
It was originally used in the exotic M1 sports car and later in the first M5 and M6 models. The dry sump, double overhead cam (DOHC) six in the M1 produced 243 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and 272 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. It had incredible power for the time and easily outperformed larger V-8s while revving like a racecar.
Following the M1 debacle, BMW decided to boost the engine’s output to 282 horsepower and install it in their shark-nosed 6-Series coupe. The result was the 1983 M6, a posh German muscle car that could reach 150 mph.
The classic M5, the best-performing sedan in the world at the time, was then created in 1985 using the same combination and two extra doors. However, the M88’s ultimate performance was showcased in the race-spec M1 Procar. Here it was brutally turbocharged and de-restricted to produce nearly 1,000 hp.
Although the Barra inline-6 is not very common outside of Australia, it is legendary there. Because it is a cherished tuning platform (definitely one of the easiest cars to mod) that is capable of producing a tonne of power and is also incredibly durable.
The Barra engine made its debut in 2002 with the Australian BA generation Ford Falcon and was an evolution of earlier Ford Australia inline-6s from the 1980s. Producing roughly 244 horsepower in the beginning, the Barra improved over time.
Eventually, the Barra produced 436 horsepower by the time the Falcon’s manufacture ended in 2016. The Barra is a favorite among tuners with the ability to produce up to 2000 horsepower. This made it a perfect motor for swaps.
However, the stock power isn’t the only thing that makes the Barra great. It also has excellent reliability, much like the classic Japanese inline-6s we mentioned earlier.
Most Powerful Cars With Inline 6 Engines
Most Powerful Cars With Inline 6 Engines: #1. Toyota Supra JZA80
The legendary Mk4 Supra’s 2JZ-GTE engine can produce over 500 hp with just a small tweak to boost pressures and a few bolt-on modifications. So when Toyota brought the Supra nameplate back, the new one had to live up to the A80’s tuning potential.
When it was brand-new, the 3.0-liter straight-six twin-turbo produced 326 horsepower and was paired with a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission. The Mk4 Supra experience is mostly focused on the sound of the 2JZ engine as it smoothly revs to triple-digit speeds.
On top of this, it occasionally makes an off-throttle blow-off noise which is just the cherry on top of the tastiest cake. If you want to learn more about the Supra, we have our guide on how much horsepower does a Supra have, and how much is a Toyota Supra, as well as looking into the MK4 Supra through the years.
Most Powerful Cars With Inline 6 Engines: #2. Nissan Skyline GT-R
The RB26DETT engine in the Nissan Skyline GT-R needs no introduction. It is well renowned for being a smooth and powerful engine that, when upgraded, would put supercars of its period to shame.
Due to Japan’s gentleman’s agreement in the 1990s, the spec sheet states that the engine only makes 276 horsepower. But the factory-tuned Skyline GT-R actually has over 330 horsepower from its 2.6-liter twin-turbo straight-six.
Most Powerful Cars With Inline 6 Engines: #3. BMW M3 E46
It’s now time for a naturally aspirated six-cylinder, to command attention. The E46 M3 is the final M3 to be equipped with a straight-six engine. The S54 engine from the BMW E46 M3 produces 338 horsepower.
The smooth six-cylinder engine with individual intake trumpets produces one of the finest induction noises you’ve ever heard. That especially is what makes this engine so wonderful in addition to its remarkable power output.
Although, if you think that the stock horsepower isn’t enough, there’s always the option of aftermarket modifications. We’ve previously looked at how tuning works with the BMW M3, and how it all works.
Most Powerful Cars With Inline 6 Engines: #4. TVR Typhon
For those courageous enough to get behind the wheel of these hardcore sports cars, TVRs have always been built to drive fast and provide an outstanding driving experience. From 2000 until 2006, the British company developed the Typhon, which had a supercharged straight-six engine.
Simply said, TVRs are not for the faint of heart. A six-speed sequential gearbox transmits the 4.2-liter engine’s 580 horsepower and 467 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels.
There are no driver aids like traction control or anti-lock brakes to help keep the car under control. So your only protection will come from the carbon fiber monocoque and steel roll cage in the event of a crash.
Most Powerful Cars With Inline 6 Engines: #5. Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo
Only Australian auto fans, where the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo was offered exclusively, would be familiar with it. So it’s time to bring this underappreciated sleeper from Australia to light. The Falcon XR6 Turbo is a four-door, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan.
The Barra engine which we discussed earlier powers this beast. This motor is a 4.0-liter turbocharged straight-six that produces 362 horsepower and 393 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain allows it to go from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.6 seconds.
Best New Cars With Inline 6 Engines
Of all engine types, straight-six engines have the best harmonic balance. It has lately been eclipsed by the V6, which is shorter and simpler to package, especially in front-wheel drive applications.
Sporting applications make the inline six’s distinctive and powerful engine note particularly audible. Here are the best inline-6 powered driver’s cars you can buy brand-new in 2022.
Best New Cars With Inline 6 Engines #1. 2022 BMW M240i
It is essentially impossible to recreate the simplicity and feel of sports vehicles from the 80s and 90s, and earlier offered thanks to modern technology and enhanced safety requirements.
However, the BMW M240i does a good enough job of preserving that traditional sports car character but still being somewhat weighty and technologically advanced. The new M240i delivers agility and personality, just like some of your favorite BMW models from the past.
Meanwhile, it also provides cutting-edge active safety features and standard all-wheel drive. The M240i, even though it is not an E46, still serves as a reminder of why those vintage BMWs were so adored.
The M240i gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with all-wheel drive and is mated to a ZF eight-speed automated transmission. Sadly, not even the base model comes with a manual.
Even if the M240i costs at least $49,545, it is still a reasonable choice in comparison to the alternatives. The M240i is still cheaper than a comparable Cayman or TT even though it is laden with goodies.
Best New Cars With Inline 6 Engines #2. Toyota GR Supra
The GR Supra, Toyota’s pinnacle sports car, makes up for the brand’s more subdued sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs with enough thrills, panache, and drama. The GR Supra was created and manufactured alongside the BMW Z4 convertible.
Hence it has a comparable build quality and less complex but nonetheless attractive interior elements. Toyota has been motivated by complaints over the absence of a manual transmission for the GR Supra.
They have finally introduced a six-speed manual transmission to the GR Supra for the latest model year. With the potent 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six sourced from BMW, the manual will be offered as a no-cost option.
Despite its immense performance capabilities, the GR Supra’s suspension is gentle enough to drive on a daily basis. Its accurate, finely weighted, and direct steering adds to its fun-to-drive appeal.
Sure, it might be a touch too heavily influenced by BMW parts for certain Toyota fanboys, and its sweptback external design produces some rather wide blind spots. Even so, the GR Supra continues to be one of our favorite sports cars. It is a driver’s car and an enthusiast’s ecstasy.
Cars With Inline 6: In Conclusion…
There’s an adage that says “there’s no replacement for displacement.” That appears to be the situation once more in the present day. The trend of engine downsizing to meet pollution standards is coming to an end.
According to studies, smaller engines pollute more because of heavier loads brought on by the usage of turbochargers and intricate exhaust systems to boost power output. This results in higher production costs for manufacturers. Because of this, straight-six engines are making a comeback in the automotive industry.
The pistons on the opposite sides of the engine mirror one another’s movement, avoiding the need for balancer shafts to control vibrations. As a result, these engines offer the ideal balance of power and efficiency, in addition to their innate smoothness.
Additionally, it is quite straightforward because a DOHC arrangement only requires one head with two camshafts. As the list of iconic sports cars demonstrated, these features make straight-six engines smooth-revving and capable of producing power readily.
Even if some of our favorite engines and cars didn’t make the cut, we were still able to compile an extensive list of mechanical magnificence from around the globe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Cylinders In A V6
A six-cylinder piston engine with a common crankshaft and cylinders arranged in a V shape is known as a V6 engine. The V6 layout is now the most popular layout for six-cylinder automobile engines. While V8 engines normally have more power than V6 engines, V6 engines often offer better fuel economy.
What Cars Have A 2JZ
The Toyota Supra is one of the most well-known vehicles ever to be powered by a 2JZ engine. The term Supra itself has come to be associated with this potent motor. This engine was also utilized by Lexus in certain of its models, such as the IS300 and GS300. The Aristo, Chaser, Crown, Mark II, and Verossa are among other Toyotas that featured this engine.
Is A 6 Cylinder A V6
There are three primary six-cylinder engine designs: the V6, Inline-6, and Boxer 6, with the V6 being the most prevalent. The cylinders for the V6 are installed on the crankcase in two banks of three cylinders that are positioned diagonally to form a V.
Is A V6 Engine Fast
Definitely yes. A V6 engine offers the discerning driver access to a substantially higher degree of performance when required while still being quite fuel-efficient. With each tap of the gas pedal, a V6 engine will be considerably more responsive compared to a 4-cylinder engine. It is also able to produce more power at a faster rate, allowing it to reach high speeds much more quickly.
What Does The V In V8 Mean
The arrangement of cylinders in your engine is represented by the letter V. Cylinders in V-type engines are arranged in two equal rows, or, to put it another way, in a configuration like a V. It consists of two cylinder banks that are joined to a single crankshaft, with typically the same number of cylinders in each bank.
Can A V6 Beat A V8
With a V6, weight is less of a concern when carving corners, and turns. This is because V6 engines have two fewer cylinders than V8 engines. In comparison to V8 engines, V6 engines perform better, when acceleration is timed appropriately because there is less of a tendency to drift to the outer edge.
Is A 2JZ A V6
No, the JZ engine family of Toyota Motor Corporation is a line of inline-6 car engines. The 2JZ engine, a legendary engine in the tuner scene, is what gave the Supra its enormous popularity. The over-engineered engine design of this engine enables the use of significant boost on its stock internals.
What Is An Inline 6
The inline-6 engine is a piston engine with six cylinders set up in a straight line along the crankshaft (also known as a straight-six engine; abbreviated I6 or L6). Because an inline-6 engine’s primary and secondary engines are perfectly balanced, it vibrates less than other engine designs with six or fewer cylinders.
How Much Horsepower Does A V6 Have
A typical 3-Liter V6 can provide 400 horsepower, which is sufficient for a mid-to-full-size car. The angle of V, however, can have an impact on these engines’ average power-generating capacity. Some can even produce a maximum output of 700 horsepower. For instance, when installed in the GT, the Ford 3.5L Ecoboost V6 engine, which powers many high-end Ford cars, can generate 647 horsepower.