Ever since cars started to use Inline 4 (I4) and V6 engines, there has been a lot of argument about which engine type is better. We have people who claim I4 is better, and we have those who claim V6 is better. And to help the public understand which of the two engines types is truly better for them, we’ve decided to use this content to provide some enlightenment about the issue. In other words, you should really consider reading this content to the end.
However, to give a quick summary of which engine type is better, “it is very incorrectly to say one engine is absolutely better than the other”. Rather, what we can say is, “I4 engines are good for some people, while V6 engines will be better for some other people”.
While the preceding sentences give accurate facts about how the two engine types compare, I feel it’s worthwhile providing further details, so that you may understand better; and this is in fact what we’ll be doing next.
To help you really understand why I4 engines are better for some and while V6 engines are better for others, we need to go into the details of how engines work.
In the engines powering almost all petrol cars we have out there, there are some things called cylinders in them. As the name implies, the shape of these things are cylindrical in shape, and these things called cylinders are what do the job of converting your petrol into motion. In other words, these cylinders take in some little amount petrol, and with the help of some components inside it, it turns that petrol into movements. And these movements the cylinder produces, are what eventually cause our cars to move.
I4 and V6 engines
In Inline 4 (I4) engines, we have 4 of these cylinders, which are arranged parallel to one another (the reason for the name “Inline 4”). And the reason why I4 engines have 4 cylinders is that a single cylinder has limit to how much movement it can produce. In other words, when we need to do things that require a lot of movement, we have to add additional cylinders. And since cars are machines which require a lot of movement to function properly, cars typically need at least 4 cylinders.
However, while 4 cylinders are enough to power a typical sedan, 4 cylinders may not be okay when it comes to vehicles like SUVs and trucks, or when it comes to using cars for things that require a lot of power. In other words, while I4 engines will be enough for the basic needs of an average car, it ain’t powerful enough for situations where a vehicle requires a lot more power.
So as for V6 engines, as the name implies, these engines are made up of 6 cylinders, unlike I4 engines which come with just 4 cylinders. And as a result, V6 engines can provide a lot more power than I4 engines can possibly provide. So when it comes to things like big SUVs and powerful trucks, V6s engines are what can power them excellently.
However, V6 aren’t only used in bigger vehicles, they are also used in simple Sedan. But the reason why a V6 engine may be used in a Sedan, is to deliver better driving experiences, and not necessarily because an I4 engine can’t power a Sedan. For instance, a car which has a V6 engine will generally accelerate faster than a car having an I4 engine. So, when it comes to power and performance, V6 engines are hands-down better.
However, while the V6 are truly powerful, they’re not what is often used in cars. V6 engines may be powerful, but when it comes to fuel-efficiency, they are far from being as good as I4 engines. In other words, if putting 5 litres of fuel in an I4 engine can last your up to 100km, putting that same 5 litres of fuel in a V6 engine may last you just about 75 km. Note that, I’m only using 100km and 75km as an example, but the point is, V6 engines use more fuel than I4 engines.
So which should I choose
So now that you understand what I4 engines and V6 engines are, the next thing to talk about is which of them will be better for you.
Well, generally, when someone asks me this question, what I typically say is, “Go for a car having an I4 engine.”. But if you feel you want a better driving experience and you’re willing to put up with the fuel consumption of a V6 engine, then you can consider a V6 engine. Also, if you’re the kind who plans using their car on hilly roads, or if you’re the kind who plan using their car to tow heavy things, you should probably avoid an I4 car and rather opt-in for a V6 engine.
So as you can see, choosing between the two engine types is about fuel-efficiency and power. In fact, we can also compare this to generators. Small generators can power only simple appliances, and they are very efficient, but as for big generators, they can power bigger appliances, but they use a similar amount of fuel for a shorter period.
“Old I4 and V6 engines” vs “New I4 and V6 engines”
While I stated that I4 engines are more fuel-efficient and V6 engines are more powerful, this may not be true when it comes to comparing I4 and V6 engines that were released a high number of years apart. For instance, if you’re comparing an I4 engine that was released in 2007 with a V6 engine that was released in 2017, you shouldn’t be surprised if the 2017 V6 engine is even more fuel-efficient. This also means that when trying to get an I4 car, you should consider a car that was produced not too long ago, so that you can enjoy a product that has a good fuel efficiency based on the present-day standard.
Turbocharged I4 (TI4) engines
Although, this article is about I4 and V6 engines, there is another important type of engine called “turbocharged I4 engines”. As the name implies, turbocharged I4 engines are I4 engines which have turbos in them. And to avoid getting too technical about what turbos are, a turbo is simply a device which makes an I4 more powerful than it ordinarily is. In fact, turbos can boost the power of an I4 engine to an extent where the I4 engine can compete with V6 engines, without the I4 engine losing its fuel efficiency. And to give a little idea of how turbos manage to this, they achieve this by making a lot more oxygen get into the cylinders of the I4 engine, and the result of this is more powerful explosions which in turn yield more power for the car.
I know you may wonder, if turbocharged I4 engine can be as powerful as V6 engines and also be as fuel-efficient as I4 engines, why do we still use V6 engines? Well, the thing is, while TI4 engines may truly be as powerful as V6 engines, there are still some aspects where V6 engines perform better. The details are quite technical, so I won’t get into it, since not everyone will be interested in the physics.
For those who wonder, “When should I choose between a TI4 engine and a V6 engine?”, I’ll say that if you just want a car with a better performance on Nigerian roads, consider a TI4 engine. But if you’ll be using your vehicle on hilly roads, or to tow things, or to carry very heavy loads, a V6 car will be better.
Other engine types
At this point, I’ve explained all the basic things you ought to know as regards how I4 and V6 engines compare. However, even though we’re done with the most important things, there are furthermore some other engine types I think you should be aware of. These engine types in question are — (i) the V4 engine; (ii) the I6 engine; and (iii) the V8 engine.
V4 engines are like I4 engines, they have fuel-efficiency and power similar to those of I4 engines. But while V4 engines are smaller in size, it costs more to produce them. And since the cost of production matters more than the size reduction V4 engines offer, this is the reason why V4 engines aren’t that popular.
As for I6 engines (which are also called Inline 6 engines), these engines are of course more powerful than I4 engines and are also not as fuel-efficient as I4 engines. Or maybe I should simply put that, I6 engines are identical to V6 engines in terms of fuel-efficiency and power. However, the reason why cars don’t typically use I6 engines is that they are too large to be fit into the engine space of typical cars.
V8 engines, as you may have thought, are made up of a total of 8 cylinders. And V8 engines are of course more powerful than all other types of engine mentioned in this content. Also, as you may have further thought, V8 engines aren’t as fuel-efficient as any of the other types of engine mentioned in this content. V8 are quite common, compared to V4 and I6 engines, but you’ll hardly see them in our common cars; rather V8 engines are found in some big trucks and some other types of big vehicle.