The 6 greatest V6 engines ever made

We asked for your opinion. We have compiled the most common answers. Here are the best V6’s ever made – as voted by DriveTribe users.

The V6 engine has always struck a balance between the lack-luster 4 cylinder and the gas-guzzling V8, especially before the introduction of forced induction. Many manufacturers have developed V6 engines to great lengths, from soulful classics to more technical and much newer high-powered, force-inducted engines. Here are the six greatest V6’s of all time.

06. Volkswagen VR6

Introduced in 1991, Volkswagen’s VR6 was a first of it’s kind engine. A narrow-angle compact transverse V engine made for front-wheel drive cars, with a small 15˚ angle between the cylinder banks, thus making it possible to fit into small engine bays designed for four-cylinder engines. One of the first notable cars to feature Volkswagen’s VR6 was the Corrado in 1991, which coming at a displacement of 2.9L, produced a healthy 140kW. This was soon followed with the release of the widely successful Mk3 Golf VR6.

The AWD Golf Mk4 R32 and AWD Beetle RSi were introduced in the early 2000’s with a new 3.2L version of the popular VR6 engine, with power now sitting at a healthy 177kW – and Audi’s TT was brought out in 2003, with an option of a V6 Quattro model, utilizing Volkswagen’s 3.2L VR6 at an output of 184kW. This was soon followed by a 220kW 3.6L VR6 featured in the Passat R36 and Porsche Cayenne.

Volkswagen Group have continued using the VR6 engine in many of their cars up until recently, where they have started to phase it out due to smaller engines proving to be more powerful and economical choices. Today, it continues to live on, however it only remains in production in the Volkswagen Atlas SUV and select Volkswagen Passat models sold in China.

05. Ford EcoBoost V6

First made available in 2009, the Ford EcoBoost has seen life in many different production cars, ranging from utility vehicles to the latest flagship Ford GT supercar. With a range of engine configurations available including a 2.7L, 3.0L and the powerful 3.5L, the EcoBoost has become a very popular choice for motorists.

The most powerful of the first-generation EcoBoost V6 engines was a 3.5L – and first shown in the 2007 Lincoln MKR concept, it came under the name ‘TwinForce’. Using Ford’s Duratec 35 engine block, Ford added twin-turbochargers(BorgWarner K03 for longitudinal engines and Garrett GT1549L for transverse setups), producing up to 283kW of power. Notable cars using this engine include the 272kW Taurus SHO, F-150 pickup, and the 283kW Lincoln Navigator.

The second-generation of 3.5L EcoBoost – codenamed ‘D35’, was introduced in 2017 for the Ford GT and Ford F-150. This new EcoBoost delivered a 53kW increase in power for vehicles such as the new F-150 (in Raptor form) and updated Lincoln Navigator, and was capable of delivering a whopping 482kW in the well-recieved Ford GT.

04. Jaguar AJ126

Jaguar’s older V6 – the ‘AJ-V6’, was based on a Ford Duratec block, and was starting to show its age. Used primarily in the Mondeo-based X-Type and S-Type as well as the early XF’s, it wasn’t ever a particularly exciting engine.

The ball changed however when Jaguar updated their 6-cylinder to the AJ-126. Based off Jaguar’s AJ-V8, this new V6 shared no similarities with the previous one – as this time it was completely Jaguar. A 3.0L engine; a compact but extremely powerful supercharger; a power output between 250kW and 294kW – and don’t forget the sound. A crisp and raspy sound. Nice.

This new AJ-126 engine has been used in many JLR cars from 2013 onwards, from the Range Rover, Sport and Velar, to Jaguar’s own 35t S models as well as the F-Type V6, V6 S and more powerful 294kW 400 Sport.

03. Jaguar/TWR JV6

Originally intended to be a frightening 6.2L V12 – but culled due to emissions regulations, the Jaguar/TWR developed JV6 engine ended up as the heart of the Jaguar XJ220, 1992’s world’s fastest car. What started life as an Austin Rover V64V engine in the MG Metro 6R4 rally car, Jaguar and Tom Walkinshaw Racing took to the workshop, making extensive modifications to the engine, heavily redesigning and strengthening it to allow for forced induction.

Dual Garrett T03 turbochargers were fitted, and although many saw the V6 as a huge disappointment, the production ready XJ220’s specifications were far from that. 403kW and 644Nm meant 0-100km/h could be achieved in just 3.6 seconds, and it wouldn’t stop climbing until it reached over 340km/h. Many tests were conducted, with the initial test reaching 341.7km/h – however with some more modifications made (whilst keeping it road legal), Jaguar managed to record a top speed run of 350km/h.

The XJ220’s reign was quite short lived, as their record was quickly topped by Bugatti’s EB110 Super Sport – and the iconic McLaren F1 a few years later. With disappointed fans getting a RWD V6 instead of the hyped up AWD V12 – and a top speed record that barely lasted a year, the XJ220 fell behind in the history books, and was sadly forgotten – however, no one can ignore the fact that the XJ220 featured a V6 engine that reached an incredible 350km/h in the 1990’s, whereas its rivals were all powered by engines with twice the number of cylinders.

02. Nissan VR38DETT

You may not know it by it’s name, but first introduced in 2007, the VR38DETT is the engine found in the blisteringly quick Nissan GT-R (R35). Capable of accelerating the rather heavy car from 0-97km/h in a ludicrous 2.7 seconds, it is with no doubt mechanically and technologically one of the greatest V6 engines of the 21st century.

Fed with IHI twin turbochargers, the VR38DETT on the original R35 made up to 362kW of power, and later improvements upped that figure to 421kW. An even more powerful GT-R NISMO was released in 2014 with 447kW, and the to-be-released GT-R50 by Italdesign will up the power figure once again to an absurd 529kW. We won’t stop there though, as many owners have modified their cars to produce up to 600kW – still retaining mostly factory parts. The GT-R may get all the credit for the VR38DETT, but it certainly isn’t the only car that has featured the powerhouse. Other cars include the limited-run Juke R, the Renault R.S. 01, along with many GT3 and other GT-R based race cars.

Handcrafted in an immaculately clean section of Nissan’s Tochigi factory by a special team of technicians, each engine is embedded with a signed plaque by the craftsman; and you know an engine is a good one when somebody signs their name onto it.

01. Alfa Romeo Busso

Coming in at number one on the list, the Alfa Romeo Busso is – many will say undoubtably the greatest V6 engine ever made. It was the most popular by a considerable margin, and when we say considerable, we mean – a tremendous margin.

Manufactured between 1979 and 2005, the Busso V6 was used in a wide variety of Alfa Romeo cars, from luxury saloons to sporty coupes. The design of the engine itself stayed relatively similar, with many different displacements and variants available ranging between 2.0L to 3.2L. In all forms – it sounded amazing, looked amazing, and performed with unparalleled smoothness and emotion. It’s not an engine that strikes technology or outright performance, but more or less one that embeds a picture of itself into the minds of a car enthusiast when someone mentions ‘V6’. The Busso was never seen as a machine, it was seen as the heart of a car, but not just any car. An Alfa Romeo… Ahhh, we’re getting too emotional.

In its most powerful 3.2L form, the Busso made 184kW of power and 300Nm of torque, and could accelerate both the 147 GTA and 156 GTA from 0-100km/h in a swift 6.3 seconds. Unfortunately, manufacturing ended after a long run in 2005 (coincidently just days before the death of the engine’s designer – Giuseppe Busso) with a spare supply of 5000 engines for to-be-built Alfas and the odd Lancia. 2010 was the year the Busso V6 left us – heart beating as it was set in between the elegant bodywork of the Alfa Romeo GT… Ahhh, not again.

Do you agree with the list?

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