2010 Ferrari 458 Italia

2010 Ferrari 458 Italia

Rumors of Ferrari's investigations into the use of V-6 engines are circulating once again, this time courtesy of an Autocar interview with CEO Amedeo Felisa. Last time around, the talk was of a turbo V-6 to extract maximum performance and fuel economy, but this time around it's not so clear, even as the V-6 looks more definite.

Felisa said only that a year ago, he would not have considered a V-6, but with changing attitudes among the company's customer base, it might be possible--in 20 years.

For those that think a V-6 engine isn't capable of delivering supercar performance, one need only look as far as the Nissan GT-R. That engine falls quite a bit short of the 458 Italia's 570-horsepower 4.5-liter V-8 engine, but with Ferrari's higher pricetags and even more impressive engineering, a twin-turbo V-6 could well provide ample supercar power--while potentially remaining a bit more fuel-conscious around town.

Leveraging technology to deliver better fuel economy without impacting power isn't new at Ferrari, with direct injection joining the lineup in the Ferrari California, and soon to spread. Perhaps more interesting that a turbocharged V-6 would be a small-displacement twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, like that found in the McLaren MP4-12C. The McLaren's 3.8-liter V-8 sucks in air through twin turbos to deliver a very Ferrari-like 600 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque.

Of course, any discussion of Ferrari V-6s would be incomplete without reference to the Dino 206 and 246--not actually a Ferrari, but designed by Ferrari engineers with the help of Enzo Ferrari's son Dino as he lay on his deathbed. That car sported a mere 2.0-liter displacement and 160-horsepower output in 206 trim, while the 246 grew to 2.4-liters and rated 175-horsepower in the U.S. due to restrictive emissions equipment--the European version managed 195 horsepower.

Ferrari is unlikely to go the Dino route again, however, and even if it were to under parent company Fiat's leadership, it would not be sold as a Ferrari.