When it comes to sports car engines, the V6 doesn't generally get a lot of respect. It's almost as big as a V8 but doesn't sound as good or make as much power. It's more compact than a straight six, but isn't as smooth and doesn't sound as cool. It's most similar to a flat-six, but it's got a much higher center of gravity and doesn't sound as good.
Now, that's not to say that there haven't been some truly great V6 engines -- the Busso V6 from Alfa Romeo and the VR38DETT from the Nissan GT-R come to mind -- and it's that particular pantheon that Aston Martin is looking to not only join but dominate with its new hot-vee V6 engine that's set to debut in the Valhalla supercar.
The engine -- codenamed TM01, after famed Aston engineer Tadek Marek -- is the brand's first designed-in-house engine since the late 1960s. It is going to power a whole series of mid-engine Aston Martin sports cars, according to an announcement the company made Monday.
But why is this TM01 a V6? Well, despite the layout's previously mentioned shortcomings, in a mid-engine car, those have less impact. The short length of the engine compared to an inline motor is a benefit, particularly when the car's gearbox is laid out behind it. The higher center of gravity isn't as big a problem with the mid-engine layout's mass centralization, and whacking some big turbos on it solves any power deficit issues.
So, with that in mind, what do we actually know about TM01? Well, Aston Martin confirmed in its release that it would be a 3.0-liter engine and that all variants of it would be electrified. By that, we suspect that there will be a mild-hybrid variant (similar to what you see in the Audi RS 6, for example) and likely also an EV-mode-capable hybrid system. The folks in Gaydon are keeping mum as to power and torque figures, but we'd expect both to be more than adequate.
Like the Valhalla's big brother, the Valkyrie, it will have a hot-vee configuration for its engine. This means that the exhaust ports are in the inside part of the engine's vee, and the intakes are on the outer part -- the opposite of most traditional engines. Unlike the Valkyrie, the Valhalla will be turbocharged, and the hot-vee layout is especially beneficial for turbo performance (reduced lag) and packaging.
We also know that the TM01 will feature a dry-sump oil system. This will provide several benefits, including better oil control to reduce the possibility of starvation on track, the ability to mount the engine lower in the chassis without ground clearance issues and increased engine performance due to a lack of windage inside the crankcase.
Lastly, Aston has committed to keeping the Valhalla's engine under 440 pounds. That's superlight. For comparison, GM's notoriously lightweight and naturally aspirated LS1 engine weighs nearly 20 pounds more. Based on this info alone, we're excited to see Valhalla's final power-to-weight ratio.
"Investing in your own powertrains is a tall order, but our team have risen to the challenge," Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement. "Moving forward, this power unit will be integral to a lot of what we do and the first signs of what this engine will achieve are incredibly promising."
The move to develop its own engines once again is a huge move for Aston Martin, and it also represents a massive financial risk for the company -- especially in the face of a likely global economic downturn due to. The benefits, though, could outweigh the risks, and allow Aston more freedom to differentiate itself from its competitors.