Jaguar wouldn’t be the company it is today without the XK straight-six engine. In its earliest 3.4-liter guise (introduced in 1948 shortly after the company officially became Jaguar), the twin-cam mill cranked out 160 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, enough to push the XK120 sports car well over the 120-mile-per-hour mark, and make it the fastest car in the world in 1948. Astonishingly, the XK6 engine (below) remained in production until 1992. In the years since then, the company has made some great — and great sounding –supercharged V6 engines (see: the F-Type), but with the straight-six as much a part of Jaguar’s heritage as it is BMW’s, fans have long held out hope that it would one day return.
Now we know: In 2017, the Jaguar straight-six is back.
Speaking of BMW, Jaguar (and Land Rover) is following the Bavarians’ lead and introducing its scaleable Ingenium inline engines to phase out its aging V6s. According to British magazine Car, the company’s current inline-four will sprout an extra pair of cylinders, with six variations of the new engine offered. Gas-powered 3.0-liter sixes will be turbocharged, and come in 300-, 400-, and 500-horsepower versions, while diesel-powered mills (which we aren’t likely to see in America) will be available in 275-, 335-, and 400-horsepower variations.
With a more compact design and greater efficiency than the current 3.0-liter supercharged V6, the Ingenium six will be lighter, more fuel efficient, and run noticeably cleaner. It will be available in the Jaguar XE, XF, F-Pace, and XJ, and extend across brands into Range Rovers, Range Rover Sports, and Range Rover Discoveries. While the aforementioned F-Type comes standard with the current 3.0-liter V6, there’s no word on whether or not it will see the new engine. But since its predecessor (the legendary E-Type) spent its salad days with a free-revving straight-six under hood, it seems appropriate to us to have the new mill mounted longitudinally under the F-Type’s long hood.
With the Ingenium engine family, Jaguar-Land Rover has put itself in a much more flexible position to compete with its German and Japanese rivals. BMW and Mercedes already have scalable engine architecture, with a standard 500cc cylinder size. JLR can now tailor engines to reflect both customer demand while meeting future fuel economy goals.
For 44 years, the XK6 appeared in everything from endurance racers and limousines. Seeing as Jaguar is as competitive as it’s ever been, it seems like a natural step for the company to return to its roots with the type of engine that made it great. And this is one of those rare occurrences when tradition meets modernity beautifully, as the Ingenium will allow it to adapt and grow with future trends.
Plus, the Jaguar XE is already proving to be a strong competitor to the industry-standard BMW 3 Series in the sport sedan segment. Come next year, we can’t wait to see the straight-six-powered Jag take on the BMW 340i, with its new-for-2015 six. With the return of the straight-six, history is proving that it isn’t always a bad thing when it repeats itself.