Theme : Engines – The V6 Also-Rans.

Recently DTW surveyed the decline of the mid-size family car with a V6. Further reflection led me to uncover some of the also-rans that trailed in the category.

2001 Kia Magentis V6
2001 Kia Magentis V6: classic used-car salesman photography.

This post-script adds four vehicles to the list of V6 contenders who have tried but not succeeded to gain sales from the dominant manufacturers. All four are marginal cars from marginal makers. Taken together they comprise a foursome fit for a comparison test in a future edition of Classic and Sportscar, say, 2024.

The first vehicle I’d like to mention is the Kia Magentis (from 2000-2006) which came with a 2.6 litre V6 producing 169 hp. Here we see one for sale now for €800 with a sizeable 279,000 km on the clock but it doesn’t seem to be wearing that badly. For this money you get electric everything, leather-ish upholstery and the kind of facsimile wood-effect trim that others find so distasteful but which I enjoy for what it is. What Car? considered the Magentis good value for money and

2001Kia Magentis centre console: superb!
2001Kia Magentis centre console: superb!

recommended anything but the V6. This means a V6 version is better value for money as demand will be even more slack. Other plusses were space, comfort, reliability, and safety equipment. Against it were bland looks and a “so-so” drive. Does anyone mind these qualities though? It’s so evidently not a driver’s car, more a pleasant convenience and much nicer than an entry-level 1.6 Vectra or a base-model Passat. What Car? considered its rarity a demerit. Tell that to the members of the Talbot Tagora owners club. For the record, What Car? came to this verdict: “cheap, roomy family car, but nowhere near as talented as the best cars in the class”. But I say it has a V6 and it won’t get lost in the carpark.

2003 Hyundai XG350
2003 Hyundai XG350

The British motoring magazines heaped derision on the Hyundai XG300 but in their view the only permissible car resembles a BMW 325i in metallic grey. They forget how ordinary those vehicles are, how seldom they are ever driven flat-out, and how many will be parked next to each other in Asda, Lidl, Mamouth and ReWe every time you stop by. In contrast the confident XG300 (later XG350) borrowed a little Bentley styling

2003 Hyundai XG350 rear
2003 Hyundai XG350 rear

cues here and there, and in my view, looks quite pleasing. Hyundai did this car on their own too; the first two generations were reworkings of Mitsubishi vehicles. The engine was good for 197 hp in its later forms. Honest John said “plenty of luxury kit and space for your money. Soft ride and quiet cruising.” But he warned against the “soft suspension and front-drive chassis” which  “rule out any sporting appeal.”

 Most intriguingly the HJ summary is this: “Should appeal to people who mourn the passing of the Granada/Scorpio and a much better car than either”. The match of soft suspension and V6 power imply this could appeal to fans of American motoring but without the problems associated with actually having an older American car. It was withdrawn from the UK market in 2003 which guarantees exclusivity, shall we say.

There are seven XGs on sale in Germany now, starting at €2,200 for a 2003. For this money you will enjoy the plutocratic delights of a CD-player, electric windows, climate control, electric seats (under-rated hugely), navigation, power-steering (did they really list that?) heated seats, and central locking. Ideally you should find one in gold. I know there is a one like that as I passed such a car often when walking in my neighbourhood in Cologne many years ago.

1996 Mitsubishi Galant V6
1996 Mitsubishi Galant V6

The 1992 to 1998 Mitsubishi Galant is an invisible car. I can’t honestly remember seeing one or ever reading anything about it. There was a V6 available, the Mitsubishi 2.5 L V6 6G73 which produced 125kw/170 HP. The car also falls into my small V6 category as it came with a 2.0 twin turbo V6, making 177 hp. I can’t remember

1996 Mitsubishi Galant interior. Grey and generic.
1996 Mitsubishi Galant interior. Grey and generic.

if I mentioned it under that heading (and I only wrote it last week). I’d love to want to write something about this, as Homer Simpson might say, but I can’t. If I struggle I might note that this engine was also used by a variety of Chryslers. In comparison with the XG350, this car is sorely lacking in fun, inside and out. But €450 is a good price, no? Honest John (again) rates it highly: “Less complex versions will run and run with regular servicing. Well equipped.” For the record, Mitsubishi tried a 4-wheel steering, 4-wheel drive system on this car in 1989. Intriguing but not V6-y at all.

2007 Saab 9.3 V6
2007 Saab 9.3 V6

And finally. The GM 2.8 litre V6 has not only powered families, businessmen and almost every one else up and down the motorways of Europe in their Vectras. The same engine saw service in Saab’s 9-3, but not a lot of service. Out of about 1100 Saab 9.3s on sale today (August 26th), just 17 are V6s. A 2007 model will cost you €6900 if you go here, with 145,000 km on the clock. For this money you get 250 hp and one of the least successful bonnet-to-wing lines ever attached to a modern car.

For a review from Australia, click this word. I’ve cherry picked this section for closer attention, and note they got an even more powerful engine: ” Replacing the most highly tuned of Saab’s turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engines, the V6 is at its core the same all-aluminium, 60-degree design as the “global” 3.6-litre engine in the locally built Commodore. But Saab has engineered some dramatic differences. The twin-scroll Mitsubishi turbocharger with intercooling is an obvious difference, along with the unique intake manifold and twin exhaust system, the strengthening of the twin-cam, 24-valve cylinder head, an engine-mounted oil cooler and a new secondary air system for reduced start-up emissions.” Hilton Holloway at Autocar was amazed by the possibility of the 2.8 litre engine in the estate, coupled to an all-wheel drive system.

Turning back to price, that Saab’s asking is remarkable. For comparison, a Ford Mondeo 2.5 V6 Titanium with only 140,000 km on the odo will cost as little as €1800. With 110,000 km the price rises to €3,800. Is the Saab really worth twice the price of a V6 Mondeo? Just wondering. Some might say yes but I feel the Saab promises a lot more trouble both for maintenance and in the driving. The Ford looks much better too.

This concludes our little peregrination around the fringes of the V6 world. Of today’s selection I tend to lean in the direction of the XG300/350 on the basis of its Britain-meets-Korean looks, its high estimation from Honest John and its incredibly low price. The Saab is quite possibly the best of the cars here; actually it’s in a different league, with only the Mitsubishi coming close in engineering intent but falling short due to its bleached-out, watered down, ingrained-dull appearance. That leaves the Magentis as the wooden-spoon winner, until I remember the fatal charmlessness of the Galant.

The day of the V6 has passed for the most part (though Ferrari are back in the game at another level). However, for ordinary motorists keen to escape 4-cylinder banality, there still remain plenty of sixes to choose second hand.

Author: richard herriott

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: