Published March 20, 2014
2014 is shaping up to be the year of the three-cylinder engine.
Ford, MINI, and Mitsubishi have already introduced new three-pot motors, and now General Motors is joining the fray. The automaker this week introduced its new lineup of Ecotec engines ranging from a 1.0-liter three-cylinder to a 1.5-liter four-banger.
All of them feature an aluminum block and head design, while turbocharging and direct fuel injection is used throughout the 11 variations being prepared. No buzz boxes, these. GM claims the engines are 25-50 percent quieter than those from competing brands.
Although not yet confirmed for any U.S. applications, a turbocharged three-cylinder will make its debut in the GM’s European Opel Adam subcompact later this year with more power than the company’s current naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder, likely in excess of 115 hp.
Speculation has that car coming to America as a Buick at some point, and one of the three-cylinder engines will likely make its way into the next-generation Chevy Volt as a range-extending generator. BMW has similar plans for MINI’s motor, which will play a similar role in its upcoming i8 plug-in hybrid supercar.
A Ford Fiesta powered by a 123 hp 1.0-liter turbocharged engine is on sale in the U.S. now with an EPA highway rating of 45 mpg, while the 74 hp Mitsubishi Mirage is currently the most fuel efficient non-hybrid at 40 mpg combined. Ford is planning to add its engine to the Focus compact lineup in 2015.