Engine geeks everywhere mourn the decline of the inline-six engine and its inherent smoothness and sweet sound. Once a remarkably common setup, it’s been largely replaced by the more packaging-friendly V6. But now it seems that those rumors about a Mercedes-Benz inline-six revival appear to be true.
The UK’s Car Magazine has some camo’d spy shots and early details on the next-generation of E-Class, the one that should go on sale next year. They say that it will weigh as much as 330 pounds less than the current car thanks to liberal use of aluminum, like all the cool kids are doing these days.
But even cooler are the engines it will use, a new family of modular inline four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. According to Car’s report, the bottom end of the E-Class range will get a 1.6-liter four with 122 horsepower. First out of the gate will be a twin-turbo 2.9-liter inline-six with 313 horsepower.
Here’s the really enticing part: Car says that at the top of the range will be a 400 horsepower version of that inline six with two additional turbos driven by battery power. That’s right: four turbos, two of them electric. This reminds me of what Volvo is doing with their new Drive-E engine, so if this is similar, I’d guess 400 horses is a low-ball number.
Keep in mind that none of this is confirmed at the moment, but Mercedes’ R&D chief Thomas Weber heavily alluded to the coming of the inline-sixes at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. Here’s what he said to Australia’s Drive:
“Of course we are doing something to prepare our engine lineup for the future,” said Weber at the 2015 Geneva motor show. “We are a company coming from the inline six (cylinder). That was a successful factor for decades in the past.”
Weber said the shift to an inline six-cylinder would allow it to use the basic architecture of the four-cylinder engine – in a similar way that two four-cylinders are used to create the latest AMG V8.
“Looking forward it’s now clear we are back to the situation that should we stay with a V6 family only or is there opportunity to do something in combination four- and six?,” he said. “It could be that we go in a direction that we link these overall lineup together in the coming years because we are well prepared and, yes, there are some milestones we are starting now.”
The new E-Class will sit on the new modular platform that debuted on the 2015 C-Class, the same one that will underpin the S-Class and other cars. We’ll see these engines in other Benzes soon.
Is anyone going to miss the Mercedes V6 engine besides mechanics?