Since 2004, Aston Martin has only offered two engine configurations—V8 and V12. The latter has especially come to define the brand, but it actually has a much longer history with the straight-six. Speaking to , Aston chief test driver Matt Becker says the straight-six could make a comeback at the brand, courtesy of Mercedes.
Becker says the company is considering using Merc's new 3.0-liter inline-six, which offers 430 hp in the Mercedes-AMG 53-line. This engine, code-named M256, is one of the most fascinating out there, with 48-volt mild-hybrid tech and an electric turbocharger. We've previously heard that all of Aston's lineup will have hybrids available in the 2020s, so this could be one way to make that happen.
"We got to drive one in Stuttgart at their test facility a few months ago, and it's a very impressive engine for sure," Becker said. "[It's] a very complicated and clever engine and it's something that could fit with the brand in the future."
Becker didn't say which Aston would receive a straight-six, but Wheels speculates that the Vantage would be the most likely candidate. To us, that makes sense since the Vantage is Aston's entry-level car, and company CEO Andy Palmer previously told us a V12—and by extension, a straight-six—fits in its engine bay.
While the straight-six has a history at Aston Martin—powering all of its famed DB cars up to the DB7—its modern-day return has more to do with pragmatism than heritage.
"With emissions regulations going where they're going and getting harder and harder, we have to consider all powertrain options," Becker said.
This straight-six would be a huge boon for Aston Martin in the ever-growing Chinese market, where engines over 3.0-liters are taxed more heavily. Right now, Aston's smallest engine is its AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 offered in the DB11 and the Vantage.
Aston Martin isn't immune to the pressures of emissions regulations, but at least it's responding to them with a really neat engine. That it ties in with Aston's heritage is a great bonus.