What is a V4 Engine? | Why are V4 engines so rare?

A V4 engine is a four-cylinder reciprocating engine in which all the cylinders are arranged in a V configuration and use a common crankshaft

A V4 engine has two sets of pistons installed in the front and behind another or on the opposite side of the motorcycle.

The most common and latest design is the vertically mounted V4. Depending on the Ducati Panigale V4 and Street Fighter models, two groups of cylinders can place in front of the other group. Another design is to install the engine horizontally. There are cylinder banks on either side of the motorcycle, one on the right and the other is on the left.

Compared to in-line 4-cylinder engines, V4 engines are less popular. However, V4 engines are still used in bikes, automobiles, and other applications in recent times.

V4 engines are less popular in practice. Only motorbikes and some other automobiles have depleted them, while many other vehicles don’t use them because they are heavy, bulky, and costly for general use or mass production. If you compare the few vehicles manufactured with the V4 engine with the sum of all vehicles, the proportion of these few vehicles is almost negligible.

V4 Engine Design

Maximum V4 engines have two crankpins shared with opposite cylinders. Three main bearings are supported to the crankshaft.

V4 engine design

These engines may use different V angles if the two pistons share a crankpin at a 90° V angle. Due to reason, the engine has added benefit of a perfect primary balance that decreases vibrations. This design can also generate smaller locking torques than an in-line 4-cylinder engine, and the short crankshaft is stiffer, making it less prone to torsional vibrations.

The drawback of a V4 engine is that, compared to an I4 engine, the V4 engine is wider and requires two-cylinder heads, two exhaust manifolds, and two valve trains instead of only one valvetrain, one manifold, one cylinder head,1 or 2 camshafts for 4 cylinders in-line engine. Due to these additional parts, V4 engines have complex designs and high costs.

These engines have a wider size than I4 engines due to the difficulty of combining an exhaust system, intake system, and auxiliary transmission while maintaining a compact size. A 60° V4 engine has a more complex design compared to a 90° V4 engine, but the 60° design doesn’t have a precise primary balance (if the crankpins aren’t separated).

Read also: Different types of Engines

What are the advantages of the V4 Engine?

  1. This type of engine is smoother compared to an I4 engine.
  2. The V-angle eliminates secondary vibrations, and the linear power curve is essential for an engine. This engine doesn’t need to turn for the torque curve like an in-line 4-cylinder, so the power is always available.
  3. The V4 can generate more power than an in-line 4-cylinder engine. This is because the crankshaft of V4 engines is stronger, shorter than usual, and less prone to torque-induced twisting. In other words, you can increase the speed power by increasing the revolutions of the crankshaft.
  4. Compared to an I4 engine, the crankcase of this engine is the best fit to regulate the airflow in it. This minimizes pumping losses and transfers the maximum amount of combustion energy to the wheels.
  5. This engine has an outstanding configuration, which offers very high tensile strength and rigidity compared to the I4 engine.

Why are V4 engines so uncommon?

The V4 engine is very rare due to the following reasons:

1) Cost

The V4 engine rarely uses in the production of cars, and the method can only be found under the hood of an obscure and finely-niched car. Due to this, the designing and manufacturing costs of a V4 engine become higher than an I4 engine.

2) Complexity

The two-cylinder heads and two exhaust manifolds of this engine require two separate valve trains, which complicates the manufacturing process.

3) Weight Distribution

Weight distribution is also a problem. The center of gravity of the V4 engines is higher than the center of gravity of the flat 4-cylinder engines. However, V4 has its benefits; naturally, it is shorter than an inline 4 cylinder, ideal for packaging. Compared to a flat-four-cylinder engine, the more upright cylinder head makes the V4 engines easy to operate and maintain.

Applications of V4 Engine

The V4 engines have the following applications:

1) Automobile Use

The Grand Prix car was used the first V4 engine. The Lancia V4 engine was the 1st V4 engine used in production vehicles, which was first depleted in the Lancia Lambda in 1922. The Lancia engine has a narrow-angle design, the angle between the cylinder banks is 20 degrees, and a cylinder head and two-cylinder banks share an overhead camshaft.

V4 engine use in automobiles

The Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 racing cars depleted in the 2014-2017 season depleted a mid-mounted 2.0 liter (122 cubic inches) 90-degree turbo V4 engines.

2) Motorcycle use
  • One of the first motorcycles to have a V4 engine was the Matchless Silver Hawk, manufactured in England between 1931 and 1935. This company utilized a narrow 16-degree V4 engines that contained an air-cooling single, pushrod valve actuation, and cylinder head.
  • From 1936 to 1938, the Puch P800 was manufactured in Austria for civil and military purposes. The P800 had a 170-degree V4 wide angle engine (similar to a flat 4-cylinder engine) contain air cooling and two-cylinder heads.
  • These engines were used in the mid to late 1980s, specifically a Honda motorcycle with a transverse engine and a 90-degree water-cooled V4 engine.
  • Most MotoGP 2020 manufacturers still now select the V4 configuration for their motorcycles.

motorcycle use

3) Boat applications

Another use for V4 engines is marine outboards. Because of the short engine length, V4 configurations are very popular in outboard engine applications.

v4 use in boat

Most outboards are typically two-stroke carburetor engines.

What is the difference between a V4 and an I4 engine?

The difference between a V4 and I4 engine is given below:

V4 EngineI4 Engine
The cylinders of these engines are positioned in the “V” config.The cylinders of these engines are positioned in a straight line.
They have weight distribution problems.They don’t have much weight distribution problems.
These engines have high costs.These have low costs than V4 engines.
They have excessive noise.They also have noise, but it is controllable through a rotating balance shaft.
These engines have a complex design.They have an easy construction.
They are heavy than I4 engines.These are light.

FAQ Section

Does a V4 engine have more or less power when compared to an in-line 4?

Both of these engines have power by considering the identical capacity of both engines. However, V4 is more complex and expansive than I4.

Why is there no V4 engine?

The V4 engines are not in the market because they have complex designs, high costs, and weight distribution issues.

Why are 4 cylinders not called V4?

The 4-cylinder engines don’t know as V4 engines because they don’t have a shape like a letter V such as a V4.  

Which vehicles have a V4 engine?

The below-given vehicles have V4 engines:

  1. ZAZ-965
  2. Lancia Fulvia
  3. M422 “Mighty Mite”
  4. Ford Transit Mark 1
  5. Saab Sonett V4
Read More
  1. Different types of Engines
  2. Different types of Internal Combustion (IC) Engine
  3. Barra Engine

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