Best Sounding V6 Cars
The V6 takes a lot of punishment among car enthusiasts, as the outcast outsider that sounds terrible when compared to high strung cracked out four bangers or larger rumbly V8s. The inline six has a better reputation, in similar displacement and power, but the configuration seems stout and sounds good. Still, inline or vee, here are some of the best sounding sixes on the road.
Lotus Evora 3.5L
Who knew a V6 Toyota Camry could sound so good? Taking the common 3.5L found in the Camry, Lotus retuned everything to produce 350 hp and a wonderful British sports car sound. The Brits really know what they are doing with exhaust, and the Evora sounds more expensive than it is.
Buick GNX 3.8L
The big black Buick is the car that should not have existed. An exotic killer, from a boring company like Buick? While their 3.8L was decently powerful for the time, the simple addition of a turbo created a legend. Under rated at 250 hp, the GN and GNX brought 13 sec quarter mile times to the ‘80s.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4
The 3000GT was a big car with a big V6, and big power to match. It looked great, was comfy, and could handle most road conditions with AWD. While expensive and complex, it’s fairly rare, but a great value. It’s just a cool looking car, inside and out, and its aural note matches its looks.
You know the 1MZ as the boring mid-‘90s V6 from the Camry. The 3.0L had fairly standard hp and torque levels, but does offer incredible longevity and it sounds great when modified. This is a popular swap for the MR2 crowd due to compact size, decent power, and great exhaust noises.
Ford Taurus SHO 3.0L
Yamaha built this engine for Ford in the late ‘80s, and it’s cool for a number of reasons. The aluminum intake looks like a mess of snakes, it’s faster than a same year Mustang GT, and it sounds like a crazy music instrument. At idle it sounds like a Taurus. Stomp on the gas and let it rev, and you will hear insanity. Like nothing else.
Toyota Supra 2JZ-GTE
Along with Nissan’s inline six, the Toyota Supra made fanboys out of everyone in the ‘90s with their reliable power, incredible mod potential, and impressive horsepower for their size. The sheen was reduced somewhat with the Fast and the Furious ridiculousness, but terrible movies and Jay Z jokes aside, this engine has crap-tons of potential, and is potent even stock.
Chevy 60 degree
The 2.8/3.1/3.4 liter engines in the ‘80s and ‘90s F-body cars are limited on power, but sound better than their larger 90 degree GM siblings. While the output for the size is pathetic, it is reliable, compact, and the single best sounding American V6 engine of the 1990s. Like a mini V8, it had a nice rumble at idle, and avoided crappy rasp that so many American V6s tended toward when pushed hard.
The big 4.3L is massive compared to some of the engines on this list, but what it lacks in complexity and sophistication, it makes up with brute force. The regular 4.3L V6 had some serious torque, little to no horsepower, and negative personality. Add a turbo and all-wheel drive, and the truck suddenly becomes awesome. Stomp on it and you are gone, leaving a pleasant V8-like rumble in your wake.
Kinda the opposite approach of the Syclone, the early MX3 sported one of the smallest V6s ever released in North America. It made less than 150 hp, but was also in one of the lightest cars on this list, so it was fun and sporty feeling. The 1.8L sounds impressive, and can rev for miles.
By the time the ZX rolled around in 1990, the car was getting a little far from its cheap and featherweight 240Z roots. While very cool looking, the Z was now fairly complex and expensive. Still, it had a cool sports car sound thanks to its 300 turbocharged ponies. It sounds exactly like what you think of when you hear the words Japanese V6.
The XJ220 was the impossible supercar. Built during Jaguar’s financial woes and a collapsed supercar market, the XJ220 should not have made it to market. Lucky for us, it did, and the supercar sports one of the most impressive V6s ever. The group b rally car derived 3.5 liter bangs out 540 hp, which is absolute insanity for the early ‘90s.
Porsche GT3 RS 3.8
The GT3 RS has been offering crazy hp for the 911 for over a decade. The current version is a large naturally aspirated 4.0 liter flat six making an astounding 500 hp. Again, without the aid of a blower. It has a performance car idle, super quick revs, and racecar full throttle. Speeding never sounded so good.
Rabid VW enthusiasts will burn our page down if we don’t call this number 1, but we’ll leave that up to our readers. With 15 degrees of cylinder separation, this is almost an inline. For a “small” engine, it sounds remarkably good, with a low idle and no rasp throughout the rpm range.
Dino 246 GT
The idle sounds like a delicate Italian machine that will break if you look at it wrong. On the other hand, put it to work on a twisty road and it comes to life. This is what a living, breathing machine sounds like.
2017 Acura NSX
The highly anticipated 2017 Acura NSX features a V6 like its predecessors, however this one is a twin turbocharged 3.5L engine driving all four wheels. Just listen to that exhaust note
Mercedes C32 AMG
Now, it looks dated and boring, but packs a supercharged punch. The 32 degree 3.2 liter Kompressor looks surprisingly good under the hood, and the idle lets you know this isn’t a cushy Benz. The supercharger’s whine comes on quick, with a whole lot of acceleration.
The VQ is shared across many cars and even crossovers, so of course it is buttery smooth at idle, even when modified. It can be as small as 2 liters, or as large as 4, and can be found in ‘90s Maximas and the current Z. Rev it, and it spins quickly, a no-nonsense mechanical note that happens to also sound good. Excellent work Nissan.
Of course the Stratos sounds great: it’s a purpose built rally car. The Ferrari Dino V6 2.4 liter was detuned slightly for the road car, making 190 hp. Still, it weighed nothing, and seriously moved. It sounds small and angry, with a ferocious edge. Kinda like how the Stratos looks.
Maserati brought back a mid-size competitor in 2013, and it’s an unusual alternative to the BMW 5-Series. The Ferrari built 3.0 V6 isn’t huge, but is backed by twin turbos to make 325 hp (404 if you pay a lot for the S trim). While the Ghibli has been dogged a bit for not handling like a Maserati should, the engine plays its part, with a trumpeting exhaust note as it loves to rev. The Ghibli is not altogether fast, at 5.5 seconds to 60, but that’s what you get when your sport sedan weighs 4,000 lbs. Still, it looks and sounds good, and that’s enough.
The pre-V8 M3 Bimmers had legendary inline sixes. Impeccably smooth, but with a menacing idle, the S50 blasts up its rpm range, quickly reaching its roaring peak. This is the NSX with a German accent.
Jaguar F-Type S
Jag just kills it when it comes to making a great looking car that goes fast and sounds nice and aggressive. The V6 sounds like it’s from the same engine family as the V8, which is an unusual, but brilliant touch.
While the new Ford GT sparked some controversy for not sticking with the V8 formula, I have a feeling Ford knows what they are doing. Have a listen:
Those are the 20 best sounding V6s on the road. Which is your favorite? And feel free to let us know if there’s any omissions, and what six banger should be on the list.
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