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Differences Between I-4, I-6, V-6 & V-8 Engines

Automobiles are generally termed as self-propelled vehicles due to the fact that they possess driving force within itself called the “Engine”. It consumes fuel at the cost of providing mobilization of the vehicle to the user. Engines can be classified into various types on the basis of type of fuel used, number of cylinders, rotary and reciprocating type, number of strokes, ignition type, cooling system used etc. Now let us glance through some of the basics and dig a little deep to know the differences between an Inline type and V type cylinder arrangement.

IC Engine

Internal combustion engines are the ones where the actual combustion of fuel takes place inside the engine cylinder called the combustion chamber. The thermal energy thus obtained pushes the piston downwards. The crank, which is attached to the crankshaft, converts the reciprocating motion into a rotary motion type. A flywheel, which is attached at the end of the crankshaft, transmits the motion to the wheels through a differential and ultimately the vehicle moves forward. The volume of the cylinder, its arrangement and number of cylinders decide the torque and speed of the engine. Most two wheelers possess single cylinder except for CC’s (Cubic centimeters) higher than 600. Four wheelers require larger torque and power to propel for which a single cylinder engine cannot do the job. This makes the usage of multi-cylinder engines viable and that is why generally cars have engine capacity greater than 1000cc.

Standard number of Cylinders

Number of cylinders range from 1 to 18 according to the usage. Cars generally come with 4, 6 or 8-cylinder variant. To provide mechanical stability a proper firing order is tuned electronically either through the sparkplug (petrol engine) or the fuel injector (diesel engine). It is very obvious to note that the indicated power and torque of the engine increases with the hike in number of cylinders.

Cylinder Arrangement Types

One has to note that there are different types of cylinder arrangement and each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the common types are Inline, Straight, U, V, Flat, H, W, Opposed piston engine etc. Each one has its own pros and cons and the platform of its usage. The alphabet denotes the engine type and the number represents the number of cylinders employed. We will restrict our dealing with the Inline and V-Type engines’ description, usage, pros and cons and the cars which possess these engines.


As the name itself suggests, the cylinders are arranged in a straight line (series) with one another. This entity is either kept in a horizontal or inclined position with all the pistons driving a common crankshaft. The inline comes with 4 and 6-cylinder variant commonly denoted as I4 and I6 or sometimes even L4 and l6 to avoid numerical discrepancies. The I4 is the most popular configuration compared to I6 which has paved way to V6 type. The I4 limits its capacity to 3ltrs.


V-type are the most common type used in automobiles due to their robust nature in which the cylinders are arranged in such a manner that they depict a vee. The V angle comes either with a 45, 60 or 90-degree configuration. Due to this arrangement, they are compact and less heavy for a given specification. They range from V2 to V24 out of which V6 and V8 are the most commonly used types in cars.

I versus V

The only difference between I4 & I6 and V4 & V6 type is only the number of cylinders that it possesses. There are lot of differences between Inline and V-type. The Inline can accommodate odd number of cylinders which can be used in smaller cars.

V-type engine requires a separate camshaft for each cylinder and thereby increases the engine’s weight which is not the case with I-type.

A V4 engine is usually more expensive to produce than an equivalent I4, having two-cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds, and thus four distinct parts where an inline will have two.

An inline 6 is two of these three-cylinder engines stuck end to end, with the cylinder position and timing set up in such a way that each three-cylinder piece has opposite pitch and yaw, so the pitch and yaw completely cancel out. Inline 6 engines can be perfectly balanced without any external aid. But on the other hand, in the case of three-cylinder engines together in a V shape, one can’t cancel out all the vibrations, since the pitch and yaw moments aren’t in the same axes.

Typical examples

Porsche 3.0L, Mitsubishi Pajero

Porsche 919, Ford Mustang and Essex

Ford Barra and Falcon

BMW N54, Audi A6 and S4.

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