August 11, 2009
V6 Engines VS. Inline-6 Engines: Which is Better?
By Alex Vickers
I’ve actually seen people argue about whether a V6 is better than an inline-6. Personally I feel an inline-6 is better, but that’s not really the point.
V-shaped engines all have a slight loss of power on the down-stroke. Regardless of the piston angle, this cannot be remedied. V6 engines in particular run rather roughly. This is due to primary dynamic imbalance which is caused by an uneven number of pistons in each cylinder bank causing a rocking motion from one end of the engine to the other. Straight engines, such as the optional inline-5 in the Chevy Colorado have this problem also because of the uneven cylinder number. V8s don’t have this problem because they have an even number in each cylinder bank which cancels out any rocking motions or vibrations. This should explain why in cars such as the Caprice or a lot of trucks that have an optional V8 without a lot of power, because they tend to run smoother than most engines, thus being a luxury option. Volkswagen’s VR6 engines come in 10.6 degree angles and 15 degree angles. The angle is so narrow that they use just one cylinder head. While this is extremely compact (and they sound orgasmic), they can run more rough than fat kid on gravel if they aren’t designed well. Certain angles can mitigate the vibrations, but it’s impossible to design it out completely, regardless of its piston angle A V6 isn’t without its merits, though: They’re less complex, they’re more compact thus allowing car manufacturers to produce smaller cars and they can produce just as much power as any type of engine, naturally aspirated or not, and advancements in the engine type’s design have relatively reduced the preference for the inline-6.
An inline-6, on the other hand, would run very smooth compared to a V6 because it has only one bank of cylinders with an even number. The firing order of an inline-6 is rather easy to articulate because there is really only two ways to fire the pistons: from the piston at the front of the block towards the back of the block, and vice versa. The Toyota Supra used an inline-6 throughout its entire lifespan because it has proven to be durable, with some owners modifying theirs to have well over five-hundred horsepower with stock internals. The inline-6 isn’t without its faults: It’s rather susceptible to torsional vibration, they don’t fit in most modern car’s engine bays, and they’re expensive to produce. Alas, they have fallen out of disfavor over the V6, because it’s seen to some as an outdated engine. BMW is one of the few car manufacturers to mass produce an inline-6 in passenger cars, while Dodge uses them as diesels in their Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks.
They both have their merits and their faults, but everyone has a preference for either application. Which is better?
Post a comment