I was going to show a client who doubles as a friend a vehicle he was very much interested in purchasing. I had bathed my baby at a car wash and was looking forward to the praises from my friend’s lips. Of course, he loved the black exterior colour, styling, body build, alloy wheels blah blah blah, but his praises came to an abrupt end the moment he popped the hood. ‘Ogun o!’ (god of iron) was the next thing that fell out of his mouth. I thought he was through. I stood there in shock while watching him sing Ogun’s oriki (eulogy) as he danced round the car several times before coming to a final stop affront it. Then he clasped his hands together, went on his knees and began worshiping the 3.5L V6 engine. The same engine is what you will find under the bonnet of a Lexus ES350, RX350 SUV and the Toyota Avalon.
Here’s a little analogy he gave to help you understand; the good book talks about a woman who lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of horses. Now imagine a seven-year-old packing such inside his pants! At this point, I was swollen to the point of bursting and couldn’t hold my laughter any longer. I looked down at the kneeling clown and pictured his thought. He must have likened its fuel intake rate to the flow of running water in the gutters during a heavy downpour. I can’t even begin to imagine what his reactions to the engine seated underneath a 2010 Ford Mustang GT would be?
In my line of work, clients hardly give cars with bigger engine displacement than i4 a second look (interestingly, most just know V6). In fact, I have had folks request for inline-four engines popularly called ‘four plugs’ (some lack lustre folks call it V4, whatever that means) that can travel from Lagos to Abuja, a distance of over 600km, with their fuel indicator still sitting on full tank at arrival. Ridiculous isn’t it? But who wouldn’t desire such? Especially in a period when petrol sells at #145 per litre. It is for this same reason some folks operate generators with their fuel release switch in half-on position these days. Some still go on to bend the generator to empty the tank.
So what makes the V6 engine this dreaded? Word on the streets says it is fuel consumption! A V6 is a V shaped engine with six cylinders. The 6 cylinders engines have three cylinders on one arm of the V and the other three on the other arm of the V. the angle of the V may vary but the easy thing to note is that the engine is arranged in a V-shape. There are straight 6 (which is typical of BMW cars) and flat 6 (which is found in Porsche cars) engines too but the idea of the V is that it allows for all 6 cylinders and their 6 plugs while taking a lesser space than the straight 6 or inline 6 (whichever way you want to call it). The inline 6 (i6) or straight 6 engine has all 6 cylinders and spark plugs arranged in a straight line. This implies that the engine bay has to be long enough to accommodate the length of the engine. The i4 popularly called ‘4 plug’ engine is a type of engine with all its four cylinders arranged in a straight line.
The major difference is that the V6, i6 or flat 6 engines deliver more power while taking more fuel while the i4 delivers less power and is slower and it saves more fuel. One other advantage of the V6 or i6 is its agility when you need to quickly exploit a gap to overtake. That instant surge of power matched by an equivalent gear selected by the gearbox in an auto transmission is thrilling. It’s more energetic compared to an i4 that appear to be struggling to go faster when you put your foot down. One other thing worthy of note is that the bigger engine lasts longer if you are regularly on long distance journey while it does better on fuel on those long trips.
The smaller engine will wear out faster if put on regular long distance journey and if you put heavy load on the car, it wears out the engine even faster. Little wonder the few who intentionally scout for V6 engines are regular long distance travelers while adrenaline junkies love the German machines and those that want straight line speed go for the American muscles which has more than 6 cylinders mostly. Ask me to define an American muscle and I’ll hand you a mental picture of a V8 strapped inside a 1980 Volkswagen Beetle! By the way, that’s the only time I’ll ever be willing to drive a Beetle, except no beetle actually runs on a V8 engine. It could be worthy of note that your car irrespective of its engine displacement will consume fuel at a lesser rate on an expressway especially when it is on the lowest gear ratio than within the town where more braking has to be done and higher gears have to be deployed and redeployed in traffic jams and probably pothole maneuvers, whichever one your government deems it fit to bless you with.
There are also those who desire a combination of I4 engines, better power output and a relatively good fuel economy. I guess it’s for this same reason some turbocharged four cylinders were birthed. A typical example is the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4L Turbo spitting about 180 horsepower and its higher output version producing between 215 and 230 horsepower. It’s a cool figure but still 30 knots behind the naturally aspirated 2007 Toyota Camry that vomits about 268 horsepower. If I were to make a pick of a car with 6 cylinder engine, I’ll rather stick to a 3.0L over 3.5L which will definitely consume more fuel and I still won’t be able to utilize the entire power it has. Though of lesser power output, the risk of contracting gasoline diarrhea is way lesser. It is also worthy of note that many of these cars are only electrically capped at their top speeds for safety reasons which they have enough power to exceed. How many people eventually run their cars to full speed?