Inline six-cylinder engines are not new to Aston Martin and they have been used in several machines before the V8s and twelve cylinder engines graced the line-up. The idea of using a borrowed engine isn’t entirely new with Aston Martin. During Ford’s ownership, Aston’s used 3.2-litre Jaguar I6 engines in the DB7 that were produced in 1997-1998.
The question that Aston Martin might be considering is how to reduce weight, emissions without sacrificing on performance and remain profitable. One such solution would be to reduce number of cylinders and pack it with technologies to help bridge the performance deficit. Of, course such an idea would need a rethink in terms of design and big investments too. For a low volume producer, this may not necessarily mean optimised results and this is where the British carmaker’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz could help.
Aston Martin’s DB11’s vehicle line director Paul Barritt made an interesting observation at Frankfurt recently: “You can see the direction of travel within the industry and we’d be foolish not to be looking at the sixes, and we’re still looking at eights and twelves.” The engine Barritt was referring to is Mercedes’ M256, an all-new 3.0-litre I6 with two turbos and mild hybrid technologies.
So the question is whether this flexible package could be offered to Aston Martin by Mercedes-Benz? Quite likely, as Aston Martin and Daimler have an agreement which allows Aston to use the latter’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Besides that, the German manufacturer also holds a 5 per cent stake in Aston Martin, which paves the way of reviving the straight-6 with the help of Mercedes-Benz’s know-how in engine technology.
The production mild-hybrid engine is already in use in the S-Class where it offers 435hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Upcoming AMG 53 models will use an even more potent iteration of the M256 I6.
From Aston’s perspective, the biggest argument in favour for a potent six cylinder is the company’s push for hybridization and electrification, two directions that it cannot get wrong if it wants to survive in the following decade.