These days, powerful, large car engines are somewhat of a dying breed. Emissions restrictions have resulted in downsizing and forced induction. But a mark of a great engine is not power nor size, it’s most definitely reliability. The Mercedes 2.0 diesel in the W123, W124, and W190 is a legend when it comes to durability, known as a taxi driver’s favorite diesel.
But if you prefer gas-powered engines, the 2.6 R6 (W124) is the Mercedes winner. This 2.6-liter gas-powered motor produces around 160hp, but it’s not exactly the most economical. However, the greatest thing about this engine is the reliability, proven by the fact that this was probably the most popular gas taxi engine.
Gas Mercedes engines
Mercedes has proven time and time again the ability to make a long-lasting engine. The 2.6 R6 is just one of many great gas engines, mostly due to reliability and indestructibility. But the 2.0 V8 engines, the W123, W124, and W190, were and still are exceptionally durable gas engines.
The 2-liter V8 offered a rather symbolic 105hp and was later increased to 118hp, but the engine was built to last and offered impressive efficiency. In the 80s, most of the legendary indestructible Mercedes engines were made, and the 4.2-liter V8, the W140, arrived in the 90s.
At that time, Mercedes had reliability as the number one priority for engine making, and engines made in this era certainly do reflect that. The 4.2 V8 had 280hp and 400Nm. It was only offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission because of the torque. The engine was later boosted to a 5-liter, which offered even more performance.
Today, a mark of a great engine is different. The number one priority these days is to make the most efficient engine possible, which has resulted in forced induction, mild hybrid, and full-on hybrid technology.
One such engine is the 3.0 straight-six turbocharged engine found in the Mercedes GLE 450. Not only is it turbocharged, but this powerhouse also offers mild hybrid technology which reduces the fuel consumption and stores lost energy that would otherwise be wasted.
Diesel Mercedes engines
These days, diesel engines are becoming somewhat of a dirty man’s workhorse. Diesel is considered tractor-like and harmful for the environment, but diesel does offer better performance than a gas engine does in some scenarios.
The 2.0 liter, four-cylinder diesel engine found in the W123, W124, and the W190 used to also be somewhat of a favorite taxi engine. The reasons were rather similar: exceptional durability capable of covering more than a million kilometers without breaking a sweat.
The 3.0-liter diesel engine found in the W124 is another prime example of Mercedes indestructible era. This powerful six-cylinder engine also offered amazing durability. You could get a naturally aspired version, which was a bit less powerful, but still offered the legendary reliability. There was also the turbocharged version, which caused more issues.
But the W210 and the W211 CDI 2.1 and 2.7-liter four-cylinder engines also offer legendary status in the Mercedes diesel engine fan club. These engines produced around 140-170hp, depending on the version, and they were known to easily cross the 700,000-kilometer mark without making a mess.
As far as modern-day Mercedes diesel engines are considered, the OM 656 is somewhat of a milestone engine. This engine has been offered since 2017 and is one of the most powerful diesel engines commonly found in the S350 and the S400. This engine offers up to 700 Nm of torque/340hp with impressive Co2 and fuel efficiency.
Best AMG engine of all time
While reliability and efficiency certainly do make a great engine, it’s not necessarily all that exciting. And many would argue ”the bestness” of it. I mean, after all, AMG was and still is the ”go to” place for amazing engines.
The title of ”the best AMG engine of all time” goes to the legendary naturally-aspired 6.2-liter V8 engine that was fitted in the 63 AMG cars from 2007 all the way up to 2014. This engine suffered many problems in the early days but was later perfected to produce 622hp, making it the highest horsepower NA engine at the time.
And as far as V12 behemoths are considered, the AMG M275/M158 V12 BiTurbo (2004-2020) is a thing of legend. The engine was first found in the S-class with around 500hp. Later on, a variant of this engine offered an astonishing 1,200 Nm of torque in the legendary S65 Black Series.
And the sheer icon status of this engine does not stop there. Later on, this engine was upgraded and dubbed the M158. This engine found its way in the exotic, multi-million-dollar Pagani Huayra, with 827 horsepower and around 1100 Nm of torque.
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More information about car engines
Why are older Mercedes engines considered to be the best Mercedes engines ever?
Older Mercedes engines had a great reputation because they were made with reliability in mind. These engines were produced in a time in which the desires of the engineers were not compromised by the strict regulations on fuel and Co2 emission. Nowadays engines are over-engineered, sometimes offering multiple different ways of forced induction.
The goal of modern-day engines is to lower the harmful impact an engine has on the environment, which in turn means that reliability and long-lasting usage are not the number one priority.
How diesel and gas engines will look going forward
We live in environmentally conscious times, which means that going forward, engines will continue to be downsized and replaced with hybrids and electric engines. Big naturally-aspired engines, especially V12s and V10s in cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis will soon be discontinued and replaced with smaller, more efficient power plants.
What’s the difference between electric engines, hybrids, and traditional gasoline and diesel engines?
First and foremost, its efficiency and its impact on the environment. Hybrid engines are a lot more fuel-efficient and produce less harmful emissions too. They are more complicated than traditional gas and diesel engines and soon will replace the good ol’ gas and diesel engines entirely.
Electric engines on the other hand are even more efficient and environmentally friendly. Electric engines also offer better low-down performance, but they do lack in top speed. Furthermore, the infrastructure of charging and servicing is still in the early stages, which is the greatest drawback compared to traditional engine servicing and fueling.