Six appeal

Enjoy it while you can, says Scott Burgess of the Detroit News, because the V-6 is headed for oblivion:

The days of the V-8 in passenger cars are over and things are starting to look bleak for the venerable V-6, as the four-cylinder engine starts to replace it in bigger cars and crossovers. It’s a sign of the times: Small engines offer more power than ever before and consumers want a fallback vehicle in case gas prices jump again.

Yes, there will be a couple of mega-powerful V-8 asphalt eaters at the Detroit show, including the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe and the 2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0, but, it turns out, destiny has determined that the meek four-banger will inherit the earth.

With normally-aspirated fours now producing up to 180 hp, and turbocharged versions adding half again as many ponies, “meek” doesn’t seem to fit. And what’s this, farther down the page?

Smaller engines allow cars to have lighter suspensions, lighter bodies, lighter brakes and an overall lighter curb weight. Less weight leads to better fuel economy and also creates a vehicle that might get an even smaller engine in the future.

Think I’m overstating things? This plan is exactly what Ford Motor Co.’s EcoBoost engines aim to do. The Lincoln MKS is a luxury flagship that comes with more power than the 2010 Mustang GT and two fewer cylinders.

Two fewer cylinders than the V-8 Mustang? You don’t suppose this could be … a V-6, do you?

And Lincoln hasn’t had a four-banger since, well, ever, actually; the very first Lincolns (the L-series, starting in 1920) had V-8s, deemed necessary to compete with Cadillac, which was selling V-8s way back in 1914. I’ll be surprised if they get one any time soon.

(Suggested by The Truth About Cars.)

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5 comments

  1. Lynn »

    9 January 2010 · 8:13 pm

    My favorite car ever: 82 AMC Concord, straight 6, 30MPG. Better than any of the four-cylinder vehicles we’ve had.

  2. Lynn »

    9 January 2010 · 8:14 pm

    Better gas mileage than any of the four-cylinders, that is, though a couple of them have come close.

  3. CGHill »

    9 January 2010 · 10:31 pm

    Those old AMC sixes were anvil-tough. And I suspect they didn’t have to work too hard hauling around Concords, which weighed barely 3000 lb. (The ’82, I figure, had the 258 — 4.2 liters — which put out somewhere around 110-115 hp.)

    A lot of people are going to be disappointed when they discover that a turbo four is not likely to record major mileage gains improvements an ordinary six.

  4. Jeffro »

    10 January 2010 · 1:34 am

    Seems like we heard the V8 was dead when turbos were first hung on four bangers.

    So sorry, but if you want low end torque, cubes are required.

  5. CGHill »

    10 January 2010 · 11:15 am

    I dunno. That turbo four they slap on VWs these days has something like 207 lb-ft at 1800 rpm. I can’t get that out of Gwendolyn’s big six until 4000 rpm or so, and it’s a whole liter bigger.

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