Getting Small, But Avoiding Econoboxes

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VW is introducing a 2.0-liter turbo four that puts out power comparable to that of a V-6. Renault has a 1.3 and 1.4 turbo engines that will replace its 2.0-liter, providing the same amount of power but increasing fuel economy. GM has a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine coming up in the Astra—just introduced as a Saturn in the U.S.—that is designed to replace its 1.6-liter engines. Ford’s EcoBoost engine strategy in the U.S. will introduce a European 1.6-liter turbocharged engine to replace its 2.0 and 2.3-liter engines in the Focus.

In Europe, gasoline engines are also combining direct injection with turbocharging, as has been done for years with diesel engines. Direct injection pressurizes the fuel before delivering it into the combustion chamber, increasing power and efficiency.

Direct-injected turbocharged small engines—that will appear in compacts like the Honda Civic, the Chevy Cobalt and Saturn Astra—are expected to debut in Europe and then migrate to the United States. These engines promise less weight, higher horsepower, and better fuel economy. Audi already introduced a Special Edition A4 this year with a direct injection, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces an incredible 200 horsepower while delivering combined fuel economy of 23 miles to the gallon.

These fuel economy gains may seem modest compared to hybrids, but the industry is looking for most cost-effective ways to offer efficiency while delivering sufficient power. Engine downsizing, combined with turbo- and super-charging is one strategy to achieve that goal.


  • Skeptic

    You watch. GM will re-launch the Chevette to prove to another generation of Americans that small cars suck.

    Buick actually had turbosuperchargers (“turbos”), not belt-driven units. Oldsmobile had lots of Diesels. Cadillac tried their V-8-6-4 engine that had a propensity to catch fire.

    Odd how GM at least /tried/ in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

  • Nicole O’Driscoll

    What about those that cannot afford such an expensive car…this seems unfair to those who have less money $ than those who have very little again it seems that those with more money are being favored over those that do not!

  • steved28

    Nicole, what (expensive) car are you talking about? New technology can only be introduced in new cars. If someone can’t afford a new car, they buy the best used they can afford.

  • Need2Change

    Actually, supercharging was used almost 100 years ago in a lot of cars.

    Yes, several GM and Chrysler used turbocharging in the 1970′s, but most had overheating and reliability problems.

    I believe that paying $1K extra for a direct injection engine may make sense. Ford is developing a 3.5 litre 350 hp direct injected, turbo charged engine to replace the 4.6 litre 300 hp engine. The engine costs about $1K more, but gets better gas mileage while delivering 50 extra hp. The new engine weighs about 100 lbs less as well.

    Ford first plans to place the engine in Lincolns, trucks, and SUVs in 2009.

    I’d love to see them replace the 4.6 in the Mustang GT with this engine.

    Yes, mileage doesn’t compare to a Prius, but it’s still a significant improvement at reasonable cost.

  • fenolftalein86

    how much the prices that car?

  • Grant

    I GET QUITE A KICK OUT OF THE EUROPEAN AND JAPANESE BIAS DISPLAYED BY ANY NUMBER OF AUTOMOTIVE JOURNALISTS THESE DAYS.
    TAKE THE EXAMPLE HERE, WHERE THE WRITER MENTIONS THE “INCREDIBLE” 200 HORSEPOWER DEVELOPED BY THE “SPECIAL EDITION” AUDI A4 OUT OF A 2.0 LITRE DIRECT INJECTION 4 CYLINDER ENGINE.
    NO PRAISE AT ALL FOR THE 2.0 LITRE ECOTECH INLINE 4 CYLINDER DIRECT INJECTED ENGINE CURRENTLY POWERING THE CHEVY HHR SS, WHICH PRODUCES 260 HORSEPOWER, AND GETS BETTER COMBINED MILEAGE THAN THE AUDI!
    THIS ENGINE WILL BE IN THE SOON TO BE RELEASED COBALT SS AS WELL. IF THE AUDI A4 ENGINE IS “INCREDIBLE” I GUESS CHEVY’S MUST BE DOWNRIGHT “PHENOMENAL”!