Kia’s new three-liter Kappa engine is the latest in the trend of mini-might poweplants

Kia is set to throw its hat into the three-cylinder engine ring this year, debuting the diminutive power plant at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show in just a few short weeks. The Korean automaker follows other manufacturers producing small displacement engines such as Ford with it’s 1.0-liter Ecoboost and BMW, whose three-cylinder is integral to the i8’s hybrid system.

Dubbed the 1.0 T-GDi Kappa engine, the new motor will be capable of producing 188 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. This is thanks to a single-scroll turbo that has an electronically operated wastegate that increases efficiency. Lasers drill out injector holes that are configured to more evenly spread out the combustible mixtures in the cylinders.

Two thermostats independently monitor the temperature of the engine block and cylinder head, allowing both to be cooled separately. The engine block can run as hot as 221 degrees to keep engine oil warm while the head will top out at 190 degrees.

At the moment, there’s no timeline in place stating when we’ll see this engine in and of the cars in the company’s U.S. lineup, but it’s not stretch to surmise that it will end up as options in vehicles like the Forte or even as a component in the Optima Hybrid if they find a way to eke out a slightly higher output.

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It’s starting to seem like the engine arms race is in full reverse, as carmakers become more invested in engine downsizing. This news follows a similar announcement made by Volvo this past December stating it has a three-cylinder of its own in the works, although it won’t be in production any time soon. Kia, on the other hand, will be placing the new Kappa in the new Cee’d GT.