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Honda's 3.5 Litre V6 With Cylinder Deactivation

No doubt most readers will have seen the TV commercials for the current model Honda V6 Accord. The commercial shows a graphic demonstration of the engine's three modes whereby it can run on three, four or six cylinders. But while groups of musicians playing kettledrums might be spectacular, it does not give a clue as to how it's done.

By Leo Simpson

If any normal 6-cylinder engine runs with one or two cylinders missing, it sounds and feels very sick indeed, with a major loss of smoothness and pulling power.

This under-bonnet photo belies the complexity of the engineering underneath those plastic cowls. In fact, it looks similar to the previous 3-litre engine which had a simpler VTEC system and no cylinder deactivation.
Click for larger image
This under-bonnet photo belies the complexity of the engineering underneath those plastic cowls. In fact, it looks similar to the previous 3-litre engine which had a simpler VTEC system and no cylinder deactivation.

So how does the Honda Accord manage to run with one, two or even with three cylinders out – without loss of smoothness and power?

Not only does the engine manage to run smoothly in these three modes, the changes between modes while driving are imperceptible to the majority of drivers.

Honda is not the only car manufacturer to have an engine with variable cylinder modes. Chrysler has its Multi-Displacement System (MDS), Mercedes-Benz has its Active Cylinder Control and General Motors has Active Fuel Management.

But in contrast to Honda, these systems are less complex and apply to V8s rather than a V6.

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