Honda V6 engines are some of the sweetest on the planet and, with VTEC technology, they are also amongst the most powerful. In this article, we take a look at the range of Honda C-series and J-series V6 engines - including the NSX screamer and a turbocharged V6 you probably didn’t know about...
Early Honda V6s
Interestingly, the first Honda developed V6 appeared in the mid 1980s – a longtime after Honda's popular four-cylinders.
Keen to move into the luxury market, Honda introduced an all-new large saloon – the Legend – in 1985. The Legend initially came powered by a 2-litre C20A engine with a 9.2:1 compression ratio, SOHC four-valve-per-cylinder heads and multi-point injection (PGM-FI). Output is around 108kW/178Nm. This engine is transversely installed into the Legend andmost come fitted to a four-speed auto but a five-speed manual version can also be found.
In 1987, the bore and stroke dimensions of the C-series 90-degree V6 were upsized to 84 and 75mm respectively to create the 2.5-litre C25A. The same engine architecture is retained and output is upped to around 123kW.
Following this, the bore was enlarged further to 87mm, creating the 2.7-litre C27A.A mild 9:1 compression ratio enables this engine to run on normal unleaded fuel and breathing is through SOHC four-valve-per-cylinder heads. In Japanese guise, the C27A produces 132kW at 6000 rpm and 226Nm at 4500 rpm. In Australian-delivered Legends you’re looking at 4kW less. As far as we’re aware, the engine is available auto-only.
Later, in 1988, a turbocharged version of the C20Aappeared in the Japanese market Legend. This engine has its static compression ratio reduced slightly to 9:1 and, without an intercooler, it puts out 140kW at 6000 rpm and 241Nm at 3500 rpm. It’s not a powerhouse but it does offer a substantial increase in torque. This is one of the most overlooked Honda performance engines.
In 1990, Honda upped the ante with a whole lot more cubes.
With therelease of the new generation Legend saloon, a bigger and more sophisticated engine was required. Using similar design to earlier engines, the newly created C32A engine runs bigger bore and stroke dimensions (90 and 84mm respectively) to displace 3206cc. The compression ratio is also raised to 10:1 which necessitates the use of premium unleaded for maximum performance. The heads remain a SOHCdesign but with four valve breathing.
The Japanese spec C32A puts out a healthy 158kW at 5500 rpm along with a substantial 299Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. Output is 13kW less In Australian delivered Legends (which we believe can run on normal unleaded). Interestingly, this engine is longitudinally mounted in the Legend but the standard four-speed auto channels drive to the front wheels. The same enginewas also used in the 1995 Inspire and Saber saloons (which are rated at 154kW at 5300 rpm).
But the biggest news around this time was the late ’90 Honda NSX and its screaming VTEC V6. The Japanese supercar is powered by a 3-litre C30A V6 which runs a 10.2:1 compression ratio. The big difference is the use of DOHC heads with VTEC dual-stage valve lift. The Honda VTEC system enables the V6to hold torque to stratospheric revs and the result is power. Quite a bit more power... there’s a genuine 206kW at 7300 rpm and 294Nm at 5400 rpm. Of course, premium unleaded is the C30A’s fuel of choice.
Unlike its bigger cube stablemate, the C30A is transversely mid-mounted in the NSX. A five speed manual delivers grunt to the back wheels. An optional four-speed auto was also offered butits engine is rated at slightly less power. A Type R version of the NSX was also released in 1992 but it doesn’t offer any more power.
Late Honda V6s
In 1997, a new Honda V6 emerged – the J-series. The J-series uses 60-degree opposed cylinders, is designed for transverse mounting and use SOHC VTEC variable valve timing heads.
The 3-litre J30A engine uses an 86mm square bore and...
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