Inline vs V engine is a hard debate as we can see high performance vehicles with both engine
layouts. The 6 cylinder is the ideal engine for this comparison and discussion as it is the only
engine commonly seen in both the straight and V configurations these days.
Any time an engine has more than 6 cylinders, it will be manufactured as a V engine
as a straight 8 or straight 10 will not fit in the engine compartment of the average vehicle today
and I don't know of any V4 engines in use on vehicles these days.
The inline engine also called I (eg. I6=inline 6 cylinder) because all of the cylinders are inline with each other and
the pistons are vertical.
An inline engine can easily accomodate an odd number of cylinders such as 5 cylinder engine or the 3
cylinder engines that may be used in small fuel efficient models in the near future.
An inline 6 will be cheaper to build than a V6 engine and there can be less complications in this 6 as there is one engine
head for the timing belt or chain to connect to.
This type of engine, if viewed from the front will resemble a V as the pistons are not vertical, they are slant on either
side of the engine. Each side or bank of the engine has it's separate engine head and camshafts.
The V will be different angles in different engines but the common angles are 45, 60 and 90 degrees.
An inline 6 cylinder engine
The V engine produces more torque at lower RPM ranges probably because of
the power stroke coming from 2 sides of the crankshaft.
A BMW V8 engine
The V engine is also a compact engine per cylinder. The length required to house an inline 6 cylinder engine
will house a V12 cylinder engine.
The width of a V engine is wider but not considerably wider and not so wide that
it cannot fit in an engine bay. A W engine is wider than a V engine and it still fits
comfortably in the engine bay of some of the larger cars.
The bottom line is both engines are effective as both engines are used on high performance models with
the various advantages of both not really doing much to pose a threat on the existence of the other.
I believe the V engine will receive the attention because many people including myself have a craving for
power and I don't see 4 liters of displacement and above in a straight 6 so
engineering and enhancements will go into the V engine for years to come. Inline engines will always have their
place in the automotive world as economy vehicles will have 4 cylinder engines.