Back in high school, I had a friend who drove a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado. The thing was a literal land yacht powered by a 500 cubic inch engine with enough torque to burn the tires at 60 mph. 500 cubic inches = 8.1 liters. This thing could displace more volume than four bottles of Mountain Dew. And there was a time people thought engines would only get bigger.
Flash forward forty years, and everyone is running in the opposite direction. How small can we get an engine? Well Ford seems to think its EcoBoost technology can take engines to less than a liter, and plans to introduce a whole slow of low-volume engines during 2010 for Europe and North America.
Ford’s EcoBoost technology is, in a word, brilliant. Debuting in the Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKS, the 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine boasts the gas mileage of a V6 (low-to-mid 20’s in a two ton sedan) with 355 horsepower and 355 ft-lbs of torque and a power curve flatter than the Bonneville Salt Flats. Ford also introduced a 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine earlier this year with 230 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque. But like a limbo game, its all about how low you can go.
How about a 0.9 liters? That is the size of a three-cylinder EcoBoost engine Ford wants to put in its Fiesta and Focus small cars three years from now, during the mid-cycle refresh. At 0.9 liters it would displace about 54 cubic inches, a little more than 1/10th of my friend’s Cadillac’s engine. Yet it would still make over 100 horsepower, with a 1.2 liter variant making about 135 horsepower and 135 ft-lbs of torque. Also a smaller engine means less weight, further enhancing fuel economy as well as handling. What kind of fuel economy can we expect from a 54 cubic inch engine?
Consider this. In 2008, Ford introduced the ECOnetic Fiesta in the UK, which had a 1.6 liter Duratorq diesel engine and got around 65 mpg in the US cycle. Now obviously this is a diesel, but it displaces almost twice the the volume of the proposed 0.9 liter EcoBoost engine The Duratorq won’t make its way to the US because of the $350 million in upgrades it would need to be sold in the US, but the EcoBoost will likely rival, if not surpass the Duratorq’s mileage rating. But whereas a few years ago 60 mpg seemed like a pipe dream, now it seems like a sure thing.
Source: Motor Trend | Image: Ford