The modern Mercedes lineup consists of 4-, 6- and a few 8-cylinder engines. The 4-cylinder engines are mostly offered with hatchbacks and lower trim smaller sedans, although a few SUVs also have 4-cylinder engine options. 6-cylinder engines are usually offered with mid-tier sedans and SUVs.
Mercedes offers gas and diesel-powered 6-cylinder engines worldwide, excluding diesel in the US. In most cases, these 6-cylinder gas engines are a perfect middle ground between the rather underpowered 4 cylinders and the overly inefficient V8s.
Mercedes 6-cylinder sedans
Starting with the smaller sedans, if you want a 6-cylinder C-class, you will have to go through the AMG department and opt for the C43 AMG because Mercedes stopped offering the C400. The C43 is powered by a 3.0-liter gas BiTurbo engine, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The starting price of the C43 is around $56k.
The 2021 Mercedes E400 is the entry-level gas-powered 6-cylinder Mercedes sedan that starts around $62k. This model is offered with a 6-cylinder engine similar to the one found in the C43, but this one is assisted with Mercedes EQ Boost technology.
If you want an even more powerful E-class, you can opt for the E53. It is also powered by a 6-cylinder gas Biturbo engine. The E53 starts at $74k and offers a healthy 430hp and a rapid 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds.
The Mercedes S-class line-up starts with the S450 sedan. This S-class is powered by a 6-cylinder gas engine with 362hp at a starting price of $94k. A step above the S450, would be the S450 4Matic which is offered with the same engine configuration, but with the addition of a four-wheel-drive system.
Mercedes 6-cylinder SUVs
The smallest Mercedes SUV, the GLA, is not offered with a 6-cylinder engine at all, not even in the AMG line-up.
If you want a 6-cylinder GLC, you will also have to go through the AMG department and opt for the GLC43 AMG. The power configuration offered in the GLC is basically the same one that’s offered in the C43 AMG. And the GLC 43 has a starting price of $60k.
In the midsize luxury SUV segment, Mercedes offers the GLE. And the GLE450 4Matic is one of only two 6-cylinder GLE models currently for sale with a starting price of $62k. This engine configuration is the same one that is in the E450.
The second 6-cylinder GLE is the GLE53 AMG, which starts at $72k and offers the same engine as in the E53 AMG.
If you want the biggest 6-cylinder Mercedes SUV you can opt for the GLS450 4MATIC. This SUV starts at $76k and has the same engine configuration as the S450. The iconic Mercedes G-class can also be configured with a 6-cylinder engine, outside of the US.
Mercedes 6-cylinder diesel engines
If you want a 6-cylinder diesel engine, Mercedes does not offer any diesel 6-cylinders in the US. This is mostly because diesel-powered cars are not as popular in the US as they are in Europe. Also, there’s the fact that diesel mixtures in the US do not fit Mercedes diesel engines as well as European mixtures do.
The fuel prices in the US are also a bit more favorable, which is an additional reason not to offer any diesel engines in the US. There is also reason to believe that the US government might even ban new diesel cars, or at least regulate it a bit more strictly.
In Europe, there are many different diesel-powered 4 and 6-cylinder Mercedes engines. These engines are usually called BlueTec. And even though the opinion of the general population is not in favor of diesel engines, manufacturers such as Mercedes still manage to produce fairly economical diesel engines.
What are the benefits of a 6-cylinder engine over a 4-cylinder?
A 6-cylinder engine can convert more fuel into usable energy, when compared to a 4-cylinder engine. As such, a 6-cylinder engine always works less to achieve certain power outputs compared to a 4-cylinder. In the real world, this means that a 6-cylinder engine will almost always be quieter, a lot more athletic, and better for towing and highway driving.
As a 6-cylinder is able to convert more fuel into energy, it also means that a 6-cylinder uses more fuel, depending on the situation. If you are primarily driving on highways, a 6-cylinder engine will be more economical than a 4-cylinder. But, if you drive around town, a 4-cylinder will usually be more economical.
Are the AMG 6-cylinder engines “true” AMG engines?
Many people believe that a “true” AMG engine has to be one with at least 8 cylinders. And this would make some sense in the early days, but nowadays with all the strict emissions regulations, manufacturers are shying away from larger engines, in favor of smaller engines with forced induction.
AMG is able to extract huge power outputs from even a 4-cylinder nowadays, but many people argue that modern non-V8 Mercedes engines are a bit lifeless and without character. Mercedes offers a similar 6-cylinder in the C53AMG and the regular E450, but the AMG version is enhanced to a certain degree by the AMG department.
Are 6-cylinder engines being discontinued any time soon?
It’s hard to tell is 6-cylinder engines will be discontinued, as the emissions regulations are changing non-stop. The future of the V8 is rather grim, and V10 and V12 engines are already only reserved for the most expensive cars on sale. A 6-cylinder engine is a lot more economical than an 8-cylinder engine.
Many do believe that we will not see the end of the 6-cylinder for a long time, and as of right now it certainly does seem to be true. But a few years back the same could be said about the V8, and nowadays the V8 is extremely rare in a newer European car.
The times are changing, and many car brands are keen to research and develop newer means of transportation, such as hybridization and electrification. Even though the 6-cylinder engine is in a better spot compared to a V8, no one knows what the future brings.