Just as modular chassis construction has found favour with automakers, engine construction looks set to follow-suit. Jaguar Land Rover is tipped to spring a straight-six engine from its existing Ingenium four-cylinder engine range.
Modular construction allows component sets to be shared across products, lowering development and manufacturing costs, and increasing production line flexibility.
BMW has already embraced modular inline engines, with its current three, four and six-cylinder engine range derived from the same building blocks, while Mercedes-Benz is tipped to introduce its own modular straight-six soon.
In JLR’s case the Ingenium four-cylinder engine range, which already powers diesel variants of the Jaguar XE and XF but will soon include petrol-powered cars as well, will be used to create a new inline six-cylinder engine family.
As with BMW’s fixed capacity strategy, each 500cc cylinder will dictate the engine’s total capacity - meaning 2.0 litre four-cylinder engines, 3.0 litre six cylinder engines, and in smaller entry level vehicles the possible introduction of a 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine.
Despite current Jaguar models using V6 engines (as well as V8s in some higher powered models) the engine bays of Jaguar’s current range have been future-proofed to accommodate a longer straight-six, while future Land Rover models will be designed from the outset to package the new engine.
The Ingenium engine architecture has also been designed to allow either longitudinal or transverse installation, matched to rear, front, or all-wheel-drive depending on the vehicle application.
By adopting a common engine family across the range Jaguar will be able to reduce manufacturing costs and create more flexible production facilities.
At the same time, the reduced mechanical componentry of an inline six engine, with fewer camshafts, variable valve timing actuators, and shorter timing chain runs owing to a single cylinder head instead of two as in a V6, will reduce weight and mechanical friction making the new engine range lighter and potentially more fuel efficient.
While the rational reasons make good financial sense for the company, Jaguar also has a rich heritage of straight six engines, which were only phased out around the mid 1990s.
Although no timeline has been given for the introduction of the Ingenium six, it’s safe to assume that Jaguar will try to phase out its current Ford-designed AJ126 V6 as quickly as possible to make the return to a 'traditional' Jaguar straight-six engine.
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