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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.