Downsizing has become a norm in the current automotive scene. But downsizing does not mean less power; more often than not, you end up getting even more.
The world is now a witness to climate change. Global warming is undoubtedly playing a major role in this phenomenon. While various manufacturing sectors are figuring out ways to go greener, the automobile sector is actively researching and implementing new ways to tackle high emissions and reduce their overall carbon footprint.
The first thing that may come to mind when you think of green automobiles is electric cars. While several auto majors have implemented electric and hybrid technology, others have relied on downsizing their engine range and using forced induction to boost power output from otherwise much smaller engines. Performance-oriented models have even received direct fuel injection in place of port fuel injection. This leads to a better and cleaner combustion, which results in greater efficiency and power. There are some manufacturers whose work has stood apart from the rest. While managing to lower exhaust emissions and fuel consumption successfully, they have also ended up almost magically offering increased engine output. Rory Angold, Executive Vice President at United Car Care, shares the most notable changes about engine downsizing in the auto industry.
One of the first manufacturers to have gone against convention, especially to their loyal, not to mention rather hardcore following is BMW. They have their range of turbocharged petrol engines going into not just their popular road cars and M division models, but also the Z4 roadster – the last place any of them would expect to see a turbocharged four-cylinder motor.
One of the first announcements was about the new M5. It stated that the new model would have a boosted V8 instead of a V10. The result was astonishing. The 500 horsepower 5.0L V10 from the previous model was replaced by a much more efficient and powerful 560 horsepower 4.4L V8 with twin turbochargers and direct injection. While the CO2 emissions of the E60 M5 with the 5.0L V10 were pegged at 344 gms/km, the new twin-turbo V8 powered F10 M5 manages just 232 gms/km. Bear in mind that these numbers are complemented by a power hike of more than 10% and a torque increase of a whopping 23.5% - 680 Nm (501 lb/ft) vs. 520 Nm (383 lb/ft). The new M6 is also offered with this engine.
The second major implementation was replacing their legendary 3.0L inline-six engine with a turbocharged 2.0L inline 4. While the power output of the new motor in its 28i-spec was 245 hp against nearly 260 hp of the 30i-badged six-cylinder model, the small deficit of power could be overlooked because the torque output of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine was 350 Nm or 258 lb/ft – much more than the outgoing engine. Fuel consumption and emissions were considerably lower too. The new 28i badged motor is now available in the 3 and 5 series, as well as the X3 and Z4, and will power even more models soon.
Probably the biggest change in the Mercedes lineup is in their AMG line. The 63 AMG badged models, until recently, made use of a naturally-aspirated, high-revving 6.2L V8 engine making between 457-525 horsepower. Most of the models in the range are now offered with a 5.5L twin-turbo V8, making between 525-571 horsepower and a lot more torque as well. This is, of course, apart from lower emissions and fuel consumption.
BlueEfficiency is fast, making its presence felt on almost the entire range of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. BlueEfficiency is the use of several technologies that lead to fuel saving, lower emissions, and drag reduction, each of which lend an enhanced driving experience aiding not just an engaging drive, but also environment-friendly performance. Direct injection and turbocharging are amongst the key features. The 500-badged models now feature a 4.7L turbocharged V8 instead of a 5.4L V8. The 350-badged models still use the 3.5L V6, but now feature direct injection and finely tuned engine mapping specific to the model they are powering.
The other significant change in the volume segment is the 250-badged models. The 204 hp 2.5L V6 has made way for a 1.8L turbocharged inline 4 with 201 hp and again, more torque – 270 Nm (199 lb/ft) vs. 245 Nm (180 lb/ft).
With one of the smallest engines the world has seen in recent times, FIAT created quite a stir with the introduction of the 0.9L twin-cylinder turbocharged engine to effectively replace their 1.2L four-pot. Don’t let the displacement fool you, because it puts out 84 horsepower - about the same figure managed by much larger engines until some years ago. This peppy little engine is now available under the bonnet of the 500 and the Panda in most markets globally. Of course, it is a two-cylinder engine after all, and that becomes prominent when you have a car full of people. The performance and tractability aren’t what you would call satisfying when you have a Panda with all 5 seats occupied. As a city car for a couple and their children, it does the job rather well.
With the launch of their EcoBoost range of engines, Ford has certainly opened a lot of eyes to the practicality and versatility of smaller capacity turbocharged engines. The EcoBoost range essentially has four engine configurations - a 1.0L inline 3, a 1.6L and 2.0L inline 4 and a 3.5L V6.
The engines that these new EcoBoost motors replace are quite surprising. The 1.6L Duratec engine gets the boot in many global markets in favor of the 1.0L 3-cylinder. The output for the smallest engine made so far by the company is 120 hp and 170 Nm (125 lb/ft) of torque – not less by any stretch of the imagination.
Up next are the 4-cylinder models. With up to 240 hp and 320 Nm (236 lb/ft), the compact 2.0L engine makes as much power as many larger V6 engines. The engine is under the bonnet of the Focus ST, the new Fusion, and even the Escape compact SUV.
Finally, the big 3.5L turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine makes 365 hp and 475 Nm (350 lb/ft) of torque – more power than even the 5.4L V8 with a torque deficit of just about 15 lb/ft. This grunt is more than enough to allow the engine to find its place in the very popular F-150 pickup as well as the Explorer and Flex SUV models.
There are several other manufacturers, including Volkswagen and Audi, apart from many others who have begun downsizing their engine range for most of their car lines. General Motors will also introduce their Ecotec range of engines in many models soon. While some points have been made about performance, especially related to engine response and drivability, the fact is that turbocharged engines produce more torque lower down the rev range, and that gets you moving faster while consuming less fuel. Most enthusiast drivers prefer the surge of power as the revs build up as they approach the redline, and that is something that is still available in many car models. Not everyone has strapped on turbochargers to their engines. Lowering displacement doesn’t mean less fun.
About Rory Angold
Rory Angold, Executive Vice President at United Car Care, is the leader, the manager, the
financial expert, and the insurance advisor all car dealers would want to have on their team. He has a knack for risk management, sales, and finance, all paired with a leadership mentality that makes him the ideal strategic consultant. He will help you devise and execute a detailed strategic plan to achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
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