Theme – Engines: The Decline of the Mainstream Euro V6

How does it stand with the gold-standard of engines in the C/D class?

1992 Mazda 626 V6: one for trivia fans.
1992 Mazda 626 V6: one for trivia fans.

Patchy is the answer. Opel and Citroen still offer V6s, a diesel 3.0 and a 2.8 petrol respectively. Elsewhere it is a story of decline, staring in the middle of the last decade.

Ford offered a pint-sized V6 in their Sierra and in the Taunus long before that. Peugeot had a pleasant V6 in their refined and elegant 406. Opel routinely offered a V6 in the Vectra and still do so. Others in the C/D class never really tried. The Mazda 626 had a V6 in 1992 but not since then have they tried anything larger than a 4-pot (but did give the Xedos6 a six-cylinder). Honda has majored on 4-cylinder engines and VTEC jiggery pokery. Citroen installed a V6 in late model Xantias and in the first series C5 and still do. That would be to offer comfort to the horse-box drawing classes, I suppose.

Let’s take a further look at the decline…

The 6-cylinder mass market car is on the way out it would appear. Ford read the runes and stopped fitting a V6 when the Mondeo changed over in 2006 to the current edition. They also were the first to quit the D-sector when they stopped making the Scorpio. Renault threw in their V6 towel in 2007 when the current Laguna bowed in. Peugeot waited until 2010 when the unlovely 508 took up the reins from the 407. The outgoing Passat still comes with the option of a rather excessive 3.6 litre V6 and that’s your lot.

If you want V6 power, look elsewhere. But don’t go down to Mercedes if you want a 6 in a C. Fours are all they have. If you really want V-6 power in a Benz you’ll need to stump up for an E-class. And the six is a vanishing element of the BMW 3 range too. That’s a bit of pity as if there really was a reason to choose a BMW 3 over better-value propositions from Ford and Opel it was the allure of a lovely in-line 6.

So, doesn’t that Opel Insignia look even better than ever? Or if you want to have a diesel and some slightly different road manners, choose the Citroen.

 It would appear that emissions, efficiency and cost are driving the V6 over a cliff. I would not wager a whole lot of money that Opel will still offer a V-6 when the Insignia is replaced.

The decline of the V6 – timeline

Honda  Accord – not offered in living memory. The Chinese get a V6 though.

Mazda 6 – not offered since 1992, with the 2.5 L KL-G4 and KL-ZE V6 engines.

Ford Mondeo – not available, ended 2006 with 204 PS.

Renault Laguna – ended 2007, with 207 PS

Peugeot 407 : ended 2010 – with 211 PS

VW Passat – ending 2014, 299 PS

Citroen C5 – still available as diesel.  214 PS

Opel  Insignia – still available, 2.8 litre V6 with 255 PS.


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

16 thoughts on “Theme – Engines: The Decline of the Mainstream Euro V6”

  1. I plan to complete this review with some interesting also-rans. There are four non-“prestige” cars which also offered a six cylinder option not included in my list. Three are certainly serving as taxis or the vehicles of retired people in their seventies.

  2. It’s strange how relative things are. When I were a lad, the thought of an inline 6 in Europe immediately conjured up the image of a Big Healey or an Aston Martin. At the same time, the idea of an inline 6 in the US made me think of the Chevrolet Chevelle that you would not want to have.

  3. The public behave as if they are indifferent to the engine format. And of those that do care a bit, most will buy one of the usual suspects. How else to explain the wealth of option in the mainstream sector: Opel, Chevrolet, Saab, Kia, Hyubdai, Mitsubishi, Ford, Peugeot, Citroen. And nearly all were fizzling out before 2010. I k know fuel prices were rising markedly in 2008 but I see the turn away from 6-pot mainstream cars starting before that. I blame the motoring press for always saying what a waste of money/indifferent to drive they were. The only positive review I can recall was John Simister saying the nicest version of the 406 was the one with the V6. That was aeons ago. In the 70s a big engine was the holy grail for all the want-to-bes, and by 2000 when they were freely available there was a lack of interest. My point is that it was evidently wrong to imagine membership of the “prestige” club rested on having a big engine. An awful lot of 3-series and C-Classes were sold with 4 cylinder engines after all. The V6 was a red herring, nice to have but not enough to confer quality status on Kia Magentises or Opel Vectras or Ford Mondeos.

    1. I suppose the logic is ‘if I could afford to spend that much on petrol, I could afford a BMW’. For my part, I was very pleased to have an anonymous, fast, well-mannered and useful estate car in the Mondeo V6. Later versions added wood and stuff to make them feel more special, but I sought out an S version, which had just standard dark grey plastic trim and was all the better for it. But I’m probably not the most objective buyer.

  4. I always feel that in motoring, as in the rest of life, one should ‘know one’s place’. So, whereas as a potential Bristol owner, I would have been happy to see an expanse of stout British timber ahead of me, I would have felt an uncomfortable poseur with even a replica of that in the Mondeo.. Horses for Courses and Barks for Marques (not horticulturally precise I know, but I haven’t the time to scan through other rhyme combinations).

    Also I’d have felt like a bloody XJ40 owner.

  5. Are you of those exponents of insisting every English village needs a Brutalist concrete bunker in the high street? And I suppose you think chrome is morally wrong? Pistols at dawn, surely.

  6. As Dr Johnson said ; “The man who is tired of concrete, is tired of life”. He also said “Chrome, Sir, is the refuge of the scoundrel”. I believe there is also “A Jaguar produced by British Leyland is like a dog walking on its hind legs. You are not surprised that it is done well, but that it is done at all”.

    We are but two generations, divided by a common website

  7. Cromwell’s revolution had long lasting effects, I think. Are you hinting the XJ-40 was something less than brilliant? There are people watching for whom this opinion is anathema. What I like about the Talbot Tagora people is they know their chosen car was a flop.

  8. If they feel like a discussion they and every one else is welcome to post. I suspect that the …gravity, the timbre, if you will makes DTW seem more like a serious journal than one of those discussion groups where all ultimately relates to the latest repairs and places to buy spare parts. “I’ve a rubber seal for the vent aperture between the dashboard and front door. Collect only. 1986-1990 models only.”
    ” Wasn’t that for RHD models?”
    “No, but Australia had their own version.”
    “Is it boxed?”
    “I like the manual version up to ’89.”
    “I wonder if you put in a ’92 sunroof motor cartridge could you convert a manual to electric”
    “I didn’t know there was a manual sunroof.”
    “Yeah, for the Australian market.”

  9. Possibly if we were more familiar with each other that would be more inviting. I thought using actual names looked more personal, but maybe the opposite.. Should we choose some fun screen names. I’ll kick off as a Citroen owwner and become BounceyCastle (mis-spelling is always inviting too – shows lack of pretenshion.)

  10. Hmmm. Hmm. That’s a perceptive remark. Especially British people are desperately private. No names on the front doors unlike Danes who list all the occupants. Yet I might refer to the Truth About Cars where authors have real names and many posters do too. At the NY Times most posters use their human names (I assume when a poster signs, say, Helen Gorpenberger, that is that person’s name in daily life). The format of blog and not forum has the advantage of looking clear and magaziney. Alas, it seems also to put the regular writers in special place relative to all the people who dip in. That is not the intention but it seems people are more at ease at a forum and using anonymous monikers.

  11. But it’s also the jocularity of the names that seems to be important to some. Tim24 is not enough, it must be Timbolocks or the like. So they step away from the intimacy of their actual name, then create a parallel intimacy by using an ‘amusing’ name. I admit that I avoid using my full name above (which incidentally is Trowbridge for anyone who cares) but that’s for specific personal reasons rather than a fear of revealing myself to the world. I once confronted someone on the Car site who accused me of hiding behind anonymity by freely giving them my name, then asking for theirs. They refused. It’s a funny old game this Webosphere eh Herrybot?

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