MERCEDES RE­CON­FIG­URES: The v6 is dead, long live the I6 LAUNCH DRIVES: Jaguar E-pace, Re­nault Kwid AMT, BMW M5

For Mercedes the V6 is all but dead. And I6 re­vived.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents -

TWENTY YEARS AGO, Mercedes-benz seem­ingly ceded a cru­cial ad­van­tage to its arch ri­val, BMW, by aban­don­ing Stuttgart’s revered in-line six ( I6) en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion. As Mercedes adopted the V6 to ben­e­fit from its pack­ag­ing ad­van­tages and ease of man­u­fac­ture, BMW was able to lever­age the jus­ti­fi­able mar­ket­ing lead of be­ing the only Ger­man lux­ury car brand with an I6, the en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion which, de­spite its pack­ag­ing is­sues, has al­ways been un­par­al­leled for smooth­ness.

Now Mercedes is re­turn­ing to the I6 it aban­doned in 1998 with a new en­gine, co­de­named M256, and the ques­tion is why?

There are few man­u­fac­tur­ers as metic­u­lous in their plan­ning, or more con­sid­ered in their engi­neer­ing de­tails than Mercedes. The Stuttgart com­pany spends more than R100 m on R&D per day and it ben­e­fits hand­somely from be­ing in a city which reg­is­ters more me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing patents than any­where else in Europe. An abrupt change of di­rec­tion in en­gine de­sign is not a de­ci­sion lightly taken by Mercedes.

To un­der­stand why the I6 has re­turned, and is due to sup­plant all V6s, there are both fun­da­men­tal engi­neer­ing in­flu­ences and busi­ness re­al­i­ties to com­pre­hend. The busi­ness is­sue is per­haps more dif­fi­cult for those ob­sessed with the pure me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing at­tributes of six- cylin­der en­gines to un­der­stand. One of the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion points in favour of adopt­ing V6s was that Mercedes could build

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