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Here's The Differences Between A V6 And Straight-Six Engine

Just a few months ago it seemed like the straight-six engine was all but dead. Abandoned by the Germans and Japanese for stuff like, well, a V6 engine. Jaguar and Mercedes are saving the straight-six this year, so now is a perfect time to go over the all of the differences between six-cylinder engines.

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I’ve personally owned a straight-six packaged nicely in a E46 BMW 325ci, which I greatly miss all of the time. I have sweaty dreams about it. But is a V6 a better engine? The fine folks over at CarThrottle have made this easy with a handy video and some very nifty animations.

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The benefits of a straight-six is its simplicity by design, typically easier access for general maintenance, and THAT BALANCE. Every straight-six car review ever seemingly has the driver measuring the engine balance with their butt, proclaiming how ~smooth~ the engine idles and the uniform revving. Yea, that’s the good stuff.

Packaging is a big issue with the straight-six, though. It’s just kind of hard to fit in cars, can throw off the center of gravity, is nearly impossible for front-wheel-drive setups, and loses some rigidity over other engine options due to being a little stretched out and skinny.

V6 engines litter the lot of current supercars, including the Nissan GT-R and new Acura NSX. It’s more compact, making it easier to snuggle in some turbocharging, works better for front-wheel-drive applications, and makes it easier to fill a vehicle lineup with the same basic engine layout. Copy/Paste.

But V6 engines do have a more complicated design, needing balancing shafts, more components, and their application across entire lineups and in front wheel drive cars also arguably makes car companies get a little boring.

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So who you got? Toyota Supra and BMW M3 or Honda NSX and GT-R?

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik

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DISCUSSION

Does anyone else feel the need to correct people who say “V4" (and no, they are NEVER talking about an old Saab)? I work with ZERO car people. A guy at work is looking to buy a car and one of them was an Altima “V4.” I had a mini freak-out and explained to him that it’s an inline four and then went into the difference between V and inline engines, which he seemed genuinely interested in, which is rare! We then moved onto the pros and cons of his short list of cars. At which point another buddy joined in and said, “Oh, you lookin’ at an Altima? The V6 or the V4?” I honestly didn’t have the energy to correct him, especially since I’ve already had “the talk” with him before and he just still freakin’ says it!