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Six best turbo six-cylinder engines

By Scott Newman, 27 Jun 2016 Features

Six best turbo six-cylinder engines

A sextet of incredible boosted six-pots

The turbocharged six-cylinder engine is mounting a resurgence.

Having spent years in the performance wilderness, the boosted six-pot is back in vogue as manufacturers scramble to downsize.

It began with the latest BMW M3 and M4, and now the Audi S4 (and next RS4), Alfa Romeo Giulia, Cadillac ATS-V, Ford F150 Raptor (and GT supercar) and Mercedes-AMG '43' range have all adopted this configuration.

To celebrate, here is our list of the top six snail-fed sixes, though with most of the above set to roll out over the next 12 months, this list could look very different in a year's time.

Nissan RB26DETT

The RB26DETT 2.6-litre twin-turbo six was a pivotal part of Godzilla's success. Rated at '206kW' to comply with Japan's power cap, its ease of tuneability had the likes of Veilside, Top Secret and HKS extracting 900kW and more.  

Ford Barra

Australia has a long history of producing great inline sixes, but while some had dabbled with turbocharging (Dick Johnson Grand Prix, Holden's VL Turbo) Ford nailed it with the 4.0-litre 'Barra', introduced in the 2002 BA XR6 Turbo. Smooth and torquey in stock form, yet capable of crazy numbers when modified.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS Metzger

Realistically, any 911 Turbo from the last 40-plus years could appear on this list, but why not use the ultimate? The 911 GT2 RS was the final turbocharged variant of the iconic Mezger engine, and produced an insane 456kW/700Nm, good for over 340km/h (see above).

Buick Grand National

As anyone who's driven a VN-VY series Commodore will attest, Buick's 3.8-litre isn't the most refined or powerful performer around, however  in 224kW/569Nm turbocharged form underneath the bonnet of the Buick GNX, it proved to the US that you didn't need a V8 to deliver drag-strip melting performance.


The twin-turbo S55 installed in the current M3/M4 might be more powerful, but we're more partial to the single twin-scroll turbo N55 that appeared in '35i' Beemers from 2009-2016. It sounds great, revs hard, has masses of power and torque and is a perfect match to the ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. Sadly, it's just been replaced by the new B58.

Toyota 2JZ-GTE

Arguably the greatest turbo six-cylinder ever. Despite having ended production more than a decade ago it's still the go-to engine if you need lots of power delivered reliably - just look at how many are still used in professional drifting. That it sounds incredible is just icing on the cake.