Features

The best six-cylinder engines ever – evo staff pick their favourites

Four cylinders good, six cylinders better? Read about - and listen to - evo's favourite sixes

When we chose our favourite four-cylinder engines we used them as an example that the trend for downsizing wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s amazing how much power, and character, a four can effuse.

Now we present a counterpoint: As cars like the Porsche Boxster trade sixes for fours and turbocharging replaces natural aspiration, larger multi-cylinder units are becoming a rare breed. To redress the balance, the evo team have carefull selected their favourite six-cylinder engines below.

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Nick Trott – editor

Predictable, but I love the last Mezger engine in the 4.0-litre GT3 RS. Brawn and revs in one mighty package, with a searing soundtrack. If there’s one ‘six I’d love to try, it’s the version in the BMW Procar M1. Just. Listen. To. It.

Dan Prosser – road test editor

I know everybody will say the Mezger flat six in earlier generations of 911 GT3s, but I happen to love the newer 3.8-litre motor in the current 991 version. The way it lights up between 8000 and 9000rpm is just utterly mad. It spins so hard in that range and the note is so raw you can't believe it's road legal. The 4-litre GT3 RS version only revs to 8500rpm so it's not quite as memorable.

Henry Catchpole – features editor

I would have to go for the 2.4-litre V6 in a Lancia Stratos (specifically a Group 4 rally car). The noise of that Ferrari engine at full chat is arguably the most glorious sound ever to be emitted from a car. It is incredibly angry in character and has something of the guttural snarl about it initially with a bit of mellifluous buzzsaw at higher revs. Just wonderful.

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In more recent road cars, the 3-litre engine in the Clio V6 is a wonderful power plant. Its sound and demeanour is a large part of what makes the pugnacious Renault feel like a miniature supercar.

Will Beaumont – staff writer

Although I have a lot of admiration for the M52 straight six I had in my BMW 323i Sport Touring, purely because it endured such a beating in my possession, it's the E46 M3 CSL’s engine that’s most memorable. With the sport button pressed, the hollow induction wail amplified by the carbonfibre airbox sounds incredible – more than enough to make up for the CSL's slightly clunky SMG gearbox.

Antony Ingram – staff writer

It’s tempting to pick an engine on sound alone from hours spent watching Youtube videos – in which case I nominate the screaming 250cc inline-six in Honda’s RC166 (see the video above – and you can thank me later), the highly-tuned Mazda V6 used in Ford’s Mondeo Supertourers, and the inline-six of Nissan’s original Skyline KPGC10 GT-R in race trim.

But for me nothing quite compares to the experience of accelerating through the gears in a Honda NSX and hearing the induction roar inches from your head. The performance is unimpressive by modern standards but no car I’ve driven since has come close to being as spine-tingling (almost literally) as that 3.2-litre, VTEC-equipped V6.

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