FACT: The inline-six is the best engine. I’d say V8s come a very close second, but nothing beats the silky smooth just-right power delivery of six cylinders humming in a row. BMW knows this, Mercedes-Benz is getting back in the game, and the Toyota Supra... well, see what I said about BMW. But! Now one Jaguar Land Rover is getting back into the straight-six game too, and I’m thrilled to see where it goes.
And it’s not just any old inline-six we’re getting, either—it’s a turbocharged and electrically supercharged 3.0-liter motor that’s mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid system. That puts this engine among the most high-tech ones probably going into any car you can get right now.
It’s similar in setup to the new Mercedes-AMG E53 (albeit with an electric supercharger too) and the T8 hybrid twin-charged engines in various Volvos (but with two extra cylinders, and the Volvo’s more of a full-on hybrid than this.)
The engine debuts on the new Range Rover Sport HST, which is available for order in the UK now but should make it to other models and markets soon. It is a member of the Ingenium family of modular engines, which to this point have been four-cylinder gasoline or diesel motors but could be expanded to become six-cylinder units. Indeed, we heard a while back that these new I6s could replace the V6 engines used across the JLR family.
Here’s what we know from the automaker: It’s rated at 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, and can propel that Range Rover Sport from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 5.9 seconds. The electric supercharger can spool up to its maximum 65,000 RPM (that’s the blower and not the motor, before you call me out for typos) in just half a second, tech that “virtually eliminates turbo lag.” Additionally the 48V hybrid system recaptures energy during deceleration, which it can then re-deploy through torque assistance, JLR said.
All in all you get a motor that JLR says is cleaner, quieter, smoother, more powerful and more efficient than the V6 it replaces. Here’s JLR’s executive director of product engineering to tell you more:
In-line six-cylinder engines are inherently better balanced than V6 designs and our all-new Ingenium unit builds on that promise to optimize efficiency in all operating conditions. Advanced features, including an electric supercharger, ensure distinctive Range Rover Sport performance and responses, while the intelligent MHEV system harvests energy to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
For now it’s on the Range Rover HST, but as I mentioned earlier I think we can safely expect this motor on a while range of cars, including Jaguar’s sedans and crossovers.
As the world of cars slowly but surely becomes electrified, the internal combustion engine must evolve to be cleaner and more economical than ever. I think this is the trend—smaller, more hybridized, more modular, forced induction too—we’ll continue to see on many cars, starting with luxury vehicles and eventually trickling down to the more pedestrian stuff for the rest of us.