Nowadays, car companies are ditching V8’s altogether and going for a 6 cylinder setup, adding turbochargers to compensate for the loss in displacement. The choice of going with an inline 6 setup or a V6 configuration has both its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Nissan GT-R is powered by a twin turbocharged 3.8 L V6. In previous generations, the Nissan GT-R used to be powered by an inline 6 setup. BMW is notorious for using an inline 6 to power there fastest M line coupes. Let’s take a closer look at what each brings to the table.
For a V6 engine, there is an odd number of cylinders in each bank so by its inherit design, it is unbalanced. The V6 is one of the most compact engine designs, shorter than an inline 4 and narrower in some instances than a V8. You can think of a V6 as combining (2) inline 3 cylinders to make a complete unit. Engineers vary the angle between the banks and crankshaft to effectively eliminate vibration at 90 degrees or have a natural even firing order at 60 degrees. Due to its compact design , the engine is very short and suitable for alot of front wheel drive cars especially when demands for power increase but engine bay sizes decrease. Take a look at the 2013 Honda Accord for an example of a FWD car designed to take a V6. Consequently, the V6 is also very wide and it’s application in rear wheel drive configurations is few, since the space between the ends of the engine width are so big. Reference the Nissan 370Z and Ford Mustang for RWD applications of V6 engines.
An inline 6 on the other hand is naturally balanced, only needing proper tuning and the correct firing order to maintain it. And because of its straightforward design, the inline 6 is cheaper to manufacture. Applications of an inline 6 in front wheel drive applications are none if any since being 6 cylinders wide can pose a problem for engine fitment. But for rear wheel drive applications, an inline 6 cylinder will work just fine. In addition, inline 6 cylinders produce more torque than V6 configurations and thus see its application in trucks and off road vehicles.
Both have it’s advantages and disadvantages, but in the end it depends on the application.