The six-cylinder madness: these compact cars had a six-cylinder

six-cylindersix-cylindersix-cylinderAlfa Romeo 147 GTARenault Clio V6 - 2003six-cylinderBMW 130i

Cars with more than four cylinders are increasingly banned from showrooms, even in the higher segments. Not very long ago that was completely different: then the six-cylinder was even present in compact models. We list a few of them.

Mazda 323F V6


The Mazda 323 F was the five-door hatchback version of the 323. Despite the relatively inconspicuous appearance of the 323 F, this model also came with a naturally aspirated 2.0 V6. With that power source, the 323 F was available as a GLX or GT, with the first version also available with a four-speed automatic. Thanks to the power of 147 hp, the 323 F could sprint to 100 km/h in 9.4 seconds and topped out at 208 km/h. The automatic transmission was slightly slower at 10.9 seconds and 201 km/h. With a starting price of €21,280, the 323 F GLX with V6 was €2,677 more expensive than the same version with 1.8 four-cylinder.

Mazda MX-3


Another compact Mazda with six pips under the hood: the MX-3. Where the MX-5 never got a V6, the MX-3 did have this power source. The V6 of the MX-3 was very small with a displacement of only 1.8 liters. This was mainly due to Japanese tax legislation, where cars with a larger cylinder capacity are taxed much more heavily. The block produced a power of 136 hp at 6,800 rpm, with which the MX-3 could race to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds. In 1998, seven years after its introduction, the curtain fell for the compact Japanese coupé.

Volkswagen Golf VR6


In the 90s, Volkswagen came up with the VR6: a six-cylinder with a very narrow block angle of 15 degrees, which allowed the six cylinders to be accommodated under one cylinder head. The brand first spooned the engine into the Corrado, later the Golf followed. In the following decades, the Volkswagen Group would continue to use the VR6 widely. The power source appeared in the Golf IV V6 4Motion, Golf R32 (IV and V), Seat Leon Cupra 4 and the Audi A3 and TT. The cylinder capacity varied from 2.8 to 3.2 liters. For the larger segments, Volkswagen further increased the VR6 to 3.6 liters. With the 174 hp 2.8-liter VR6 on board, the Golf III certainly got wings: the hatchback sprinted to 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds and continued to 224 km/h.

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

The well-known 3.2-litre Busso V6 in a compact package? Yes please! The Alfa Romeo 147 GTA releases all its 250 hp onto the road through the front wheels. In a driving test from that period, we concluded that the sound was delicious and the V6 had an eager character, but that the power often led to wheelspin and the 147 was considerably understeered due to the heavy block. In any case, that does not put a heavy burden on the current used car prices, because they are skyrocketing.

Renault Clio V6

You can of course mount a V6 under the hood, but why not put it behind the front seats? Renault did that with the Clio V6, which, incidentally, has a pretty cunning handling. That was significantly better for each other with the second generation of the Clio V6. Renault built it in-house and no longer with Tom Walkinshaw Racing. The 255 hp Clio V6 has always remained a rare hot hatch. Nowadays you can put a hefty amount on the table if you want to have one in your garage.

BMW 3 Series Compact


With the 3-series Compact, BMW introduced a shorter three-door hatchback based on the 3-series. Tastes differ, but in general the public found the shorter 3-series less beautiful than the regular coupe. The E36 Compact was identical from the front to the 3-series, with the E46 the Compact differed by its double headlights. It was also available with a six-in-line: first as a 170 hp 323ti, later as a 192 hp 325ti. Thanks to its short wheelbase and rear-wheel drive, the car is very suitable for drifting.

BMW 130i

The 3-series Compact was not the only smaller model in which BMW put the six-in-line. The BMW 1-series was also available as a 130i with more than 260 hp strong six-cylinder. If you put it together fairly anonymously, like the one in the photo above, you’d have a real sleeper in hands. The 1-series Coupé was even available as a 135i with a blown 3.0 six-cylinder engine and 306 hp. In the end, the six-cylinder remained in the 1-series for two generations. With the introduction of the last generation, the zespitter disappeared, with which this type of power source has completely disappeared from the lower segments of the car market.

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