Many automakers have abandoned straight-six engines in favor of more compact V-6 designs in order to improve packaging and pedestrian safety, but a few automakers are fighting the trend. The key reason is the development of modular engines, where, for example, three-, four- and six-cylinder engines can share a common design and can all be built on a single production line.
BMW started the trend with its new family of three-cylinder engines
, which will eventually spawn four- and six-cylinder units, and Mercedes-Benz has previously been reported to be considering the same strategy
is reporting that Mercedes will launch a new engine family with three-, four- and six-cylinder units all sharing a common design. This means the Three Pointed Star will once again have a straight-six engine in its cars, something not seen since the 1990s.
The new straight-six engine is expected to debut in the next-generation E-Class, due in 2016. The engine will then be offered in the next-generation C-Class
, as part of the car’s mid-cycle update. Overseas, some Mercedes models will feature a three-cylinder version of this engine, though here in the U.S., Mercedes’ smallest engine is expected to remain a four-cylinder unit.
In a twist, Aston Martin has previously been reported to be investigating the use
of a straight-six engine in some of its future models and the links between the British brand and Mercedes
could mean some joint engine development.
Also according to Autocar
, Mercedes has several other new technologies in the works. These are said to include an upgraded autonomous driving system with an overtaking function, a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation C-Class and a new nine-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT automatic transmission. Note, Mercedes has already unveiled a nine-speed automatic
for its non-AMG models. The first Mercedes cars in the U.S. with the nine-speed 'box will arrive for the 2015 model year
._______________________________________Follow Motor Authority on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.