By on March 11, 2018

While the United States’ obsession with massive V8 engines was picking up steam, Britain was falling in love with the inline six. In the years following World War II, Aston Martin was acquired by David Brown for a pittance and entered into the era that would define it forever. This era included the engine stylings of Tadek Marek — a man with a serious penchant for the straight six. Eventually both Aston and Marek would move on to motors with more cylinders, but the company would still hold onto the inline six until the new millennium as an entry-level option. It’s last application was on the base-model DB7.

Unless you count the DB4’s continuation, we’ve not seen any Aston Martin hosting a straight-six configuration since then. However, the company recently let slip that it’s talking about borrowing one from Daimler. Specifically, the turbocharged 3.0-liter from Mercedes-AMG. 

The power plant in question is an inline-six with supplemental electric forced induction and mild-hybrid starter-alternator motor. While that may make it sound like a economy focused unit, rest assured that it is a beast. In the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 the motor develops 429 horsepower and 384 foot-pounds of torque — augmented further by the electric trickery’s 21 extra horsepower and 184 lb-ft.

“I’ve driven it,” Aston Martin’s chief engineer Matt Becker told Australia’s Wheels in a recent interview. “We got to drive one in Stuttgart at their test facility a few months ago, and it’s a very impressive engine for sure.”

“With emissions regulations going where they’re going and getting harder and harder, we have to consider all power train options, and we are considering six-cylinders for the future. Previous Astons have had six cylinders — a long time ago — but I think with CLS 53, the engine that has is a very complicated and clever engine and it’s something that could fit with the brand in the future.”

[Images: Aston Martin; Daimler]

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17 Comments on “Aston Martin May Return to the Inline Six With Help from Mercedes-AMG...”


  • avatar
    Lee Wilcox

    Well I think this might be better than the 3.0 v6 tha’ts pulling me around. Doubt if anyone will be calling it a 3 point slow.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Did I read that correctly? 450 hp and 568 lb-ft from a 3.0L? Sign me up for the trickery – and smoothness.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Oh yes, the smooooothness. Love the smoothness. And the straight-8 is even better but no one does these engines anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Turbocharged + electric motor assist as the article states. It would be trickery if this engine was solely turbocharged or say naturally aspirated.

      Still impressive though at 143 horsepower per liter.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Believe it or not many of the British inline sixes were around the 2 litre mark or so.

    Vanguard, Standard, even BMC all made these tiny sixes. I do recall my father here in Australia bought a Vangaurd ute with an in line six running SU’s.

    The small inline British six also moved to the Japanese. Nissans L series started out at 2.4 litres. The Japanese transferred and improved on much British automotive technology.

    Toyota used a Canadian GM in line six for the early Landcruisers, hence it’s larger “North American” capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      My ex-brother-in-law had a cherry 330 Ci with the manual. It was sublime to drive and was the first real car I’d then driven with a straight-six. The love was immediate and forever. I’d driven an old Chevy truck with the same engine and transmission configuration but it was missing badly and was, well, an old Chevy truck. It had the sobriquet ‘Nightmare’ for good reason.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Nissan sent the 2.4L to the US, but it was also a 2-liter back in the homeland. Nissan and Toyota built lots of 2-liter sixes until the tax bracket moved up to 2.5L for 1991.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        bumpyii,
        The Japanese had a system very similsr to CAFE.

        Those mini trucks from the 60s and 70s were built to the maximun size for a the Japanese Large Vehicle Class. If I recall 1.7m x 5.5m and an engine capacity of 2 litres or less.

        Towards the end od the mini truck boom the US was the only country getting larger than 2 litre mini trucks. The rest of us made do with smaller engines.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    1) I love a good straight-6 engine.

    2) Smaller manufacturers are going to have to do more and more of this kind of buying their engines. Aston Martin doesn’t have anywhere near the scale required to make custom engine designs and tooling feasible in an era of increasing performance and fuel economy requirements.

    3) The all-electric holy land might one day solve this problem by offering auto makers third party off-the-shelf electric motors, batteries and controllers much as they can source transmissions, brake systems and all manner of electronics today.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    The level of mechanical perfection these days is amazing but we are going to have to admit before long that the golden days of motoring are long gone.

    Imagine 3 DCOE’s and a throaty exhaust waking up the countryside at dawn. Only in our Walter Minty dreams.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      We just have to make the best of what is still available to us.

      My prefs are a V8 for halfton pickup trucks and large SUVs, a V6 or inline-6 for midsize pickup trucks, sedans and SUVs, and I don’t care about the rest.

      BT (Before Trump) there was concern that V8s were on the way out in favor of nervous-nellie heavy-breathing four-bangers. But inline-sixes are the prime choice for smoothness in any era.

      My first pickup trucks were inline sixes with three-on-the-tree, and they worked fine.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Well you can still get a throaty exhaust (as evidenced by the dearth of manufacturers offering exhaust systems with bypass valves in the mufflers) and some intake noise from the factory ( factory “cold air” systems are more gimmick than actual performance equipment and are there to mostly emit noise from the engine ).

      Outside of muffled intake and exhaust tracts modern cylinder heads, especially the multivalve variety require less aggressive cam(s) to make power which has contributed to quieter and smoother running engines as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Add Lightness,
      I had a beautiful L20 with a pair of side draught DCOE 45mm Webers. The art of tuning the carby themselves was good. I’m not talking tuning the carbies for running, but working out the choke tubes, emulsion tubes, jetting, etc.

      I had mine choked at 43mm working down to a 41mm inlet on the heads. I ran the ram tubes with Unifilters.

      The induction noise was mesmerising to say the least. but at lower revs the drone was deafening.

      I had to tune the engine up to three times a day though.

      At full song, 8500rpm it was an animal of a sounding engine.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Pretty crazy torque numbers, wow. Lots of tech too, I’ve got a feeling owners will frequently deal with a man known as “Mechanic, Auto Mechanic”.

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    A few errors in this article. The original Aston Inline 6 was not designed by Tadek Marek, it was a W.O. Bentley design for Lagonda also purchased by David Brown. Marek upped the performance of that engine until 1972 when his V8 which came out 69 replaced it entirely. The DB7 had a supercharged version of the Jaguar AJ6, until it was replaced by a V12 based on the Ford Mod motor.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    For me there’s only two engines V8 and I6. My Toyota 7MGE burned with a bad head gasket twice, but the smoothness, the smoothness, and the torque! Love my 1UZFE V8 in the Lexus, I know a lot of folks say it lacks character, but again smoothness and big, lazy torque.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The older I get, the more I appreciate inline 6 engines. They are simple, balanced, and elegant. Despite the long crankshaft and block, which should be a detriment in the performance space, inline-6 engines don’t mount transversely well. This could lead to them being seen as a performance engine, since only performance sedans and coupes will have them. Aston Martin is making a wise decision.

    Inline-6 engines really need to make a comeback in pickup trucks. Not sure if it can happen though, since V6’s are ubiquitous in the CUV and sedan landscape.


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