By on October 15, 2016

Ford 1.0L Ecoboost. Photo courtesy Ford.

If you think engine displacements have become a little too European over here, you’d hate to see the motorcycle-worthy powerplants motivating econoboxes on the other side of the pond.

Paired with the magic of modern technology, inline threes and parallel twins can now make enough grunt to move respectably sized vehicles. However, those days could soon be over, all thanks to ambitious regulators and the downsized engines’ tendency to spew man-sized amounts of pollution.

And if you think this isn’t America’s problem, think again.

European emissions regulators received a black eye last year after realizing their collective noses weren’t up to the task of sniffing out a skunk in their midst.

It took a small independent European team working with a group of West Virginians to reveal Volkswagen’s years-long deception. Burned and angry, regulators fired back with laws mandating much more stringent real-world testing. With those new laws on the horizon, it seems that big is the new small.

Reuters reports that General Motors, Renault and Volkswagen plan to scrap their smallest engines, with other automakers expected to follow suit. While small, boosted motors can deliver excellent fuel economy, the nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide output is often out of all proportion to the diminutive displacement. That goes for both gasoline and diesel powerplants.

At the Paris Auto Show last week, Renault-Nissan alliance powertrain head Alain Raposo told Reuters, “We’re reaching the limits of downsizing.” GM reportedly plans to drop its 1.2-liter diesel after the current generation, and Volkswagen will shortly ditch its 1.4-liter three-cylinder diesel.

The current testing regime gives the tiny motors a thumbs-up, but only because the tests run the engines at moderate temperatures and light loads. Make them work, and emissions soar. Larger displacements give automakers a chance of passing a real-world test.

Starting next year, new European models must meet on-the-road testing for NOx, with all cars required to comply by 2019. A new global test standard for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions arrives in 2021.

What does this all mean for America? Well, thanks to a rise in global product offerings, some of those suspect small-displacement engines are sold on this side of the Atlantic. After the Volkswagen debacle, the Environmental Protection Agency pledged to add on-road testing to its battery, so the clock is ticking.

Ford’s much-touted 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, found in the Fiesta and Focus, earns low marks in real-world emissions testing (making TTAC’s managing editor a monster). An independent fuel economy and emissions testing company, Emissions Analytics, has begun on-road testing of new vehicles, and the results aren’t good for the Blue Oval.

The company’s Equa Air Quality Index rates the 1.0-liter Focus an “E” on its “A” to “H” air quality scale. That places the model in compliance with a testing standard that ended in 2014. Ford’s Fiesta doesn’t fare much better, rating a “D”, which still doesn’t reach current Euro 6 emissions requirements.

BMW’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder, found in the Mini lineup, rates a “C” on the air quality index, making it compliant with Euro 6. However, Euro 6’s days are numbered.

Will the rise of the high-output three-cylinder be a short-lived one? Will Ford be forced to scrap an award-winning engine that fits in a suitcase? You can bet there’s furrowed brows in Dearborn and beads of sweat forming in Cologne.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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129 Comments on “Automakers Hit Bottom in Engine Displacement, May Be Forced to Upsize...”


  • avatar

    I’m not an emission expert, but if the standards are “grams per mile” or some such, then you have a problem making your 7 liter engine clean but an 800 cc engine will have a much easier time of it due to size alone. I know US makers have problems as the EU says “over time” and US is “upon cold start”…my BMW has an air injection pump for the cats for that reason….add in the dirty exhaust for the first few minutes and if you can’t average it over time you have a much tougher thing to do.

    I also recall motorcycles were nowhere near as strangled for a long time for the same reason…

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      “if the standards are “grams per mile” or some such, then you have a problem making your 7 liter engine clean but an 800 cc engine will have a much easier time of it due to size alone.”

      That’s why there’s a thing called fleet averages.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      “if the standards are “grams per mile” or some such, then you have a problem making your 7 liter engine clean but an 800 cc engine will have a much easier time of it due to size alone.”

      While I could see why this is true in the lab, I don’t follow why this would be so in a real-world test, so I don’t know what you are trying to say.

      I think everything from cattle to reservoirs dwarf auto emissions as far as greenhouse gases, so focusing on auto emissions is like the drunk looking for his keys under the streetlight because that is where the light is, at least they are targeting outcomes rather than mandating solutions.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        Greenhouse gases are NOT the emissions being discussed. This really isn’t s surprise. To get the high power output, combustion pressures are pushed to very high levels. This becomes much harder to control emission wise, as well as putting high mechanical stress on the components.

        There’s a reason industrial engines have a rather low power to displacement ratio.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    We the people have voted with our dollars for ever smaller engines.

    Get the government of our backs!

    (And how can anyone not admire the awesome efficiency of that little pea-dinker moving an actual passenger car?)

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      Give me hellcat or give me pedals!!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Wait a minute! I patriotically vote for the lesser evil in every election, but I’ve never seen small engines put to a vote. I prefer an inline six or a V8 for the sound alone, but if a bigger engine with more cylinders can give me reasonable fuel economy, decent power and low emissions, I should be able to buy it.

      Those big, slow turning American V8s didn’t have to work hard, even with carbs and non-electronic ignition. Just converting to HEI made a big difference in the late ’70s, think what direct injection, 6,7, and 8 speed transmissions, and computer controls could do. Maybe it’s time to pull out the blueprints for those 400+ cid V8s and see what can be done with them.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Direct Injection produces more particulate emissions over port injected engines. Not sure about the rest but if EEE-PAH is hard on diesels for that problem I wonder how it bodes for DI?

        On a slightly related note why the hell do people freak the hell out over DI? It has its uses – allows more aggressive timing, offers a slight bump in mechanical compression for the most part.

        On the Mustang boards I frequent people post like DI is going to transform the Coyote 5.0 into some kind of giant slayer adding 25 or more horsepower.

        Somehow I think they are going to be sorely disappointed. The Coyote engine has a pretty decent chamber design and Ford implemented a pretty neat fuel injection strategy that addresses some issues with the port design (essentially a straight shot that gets the air in but doesn’t do much for keeping the mixture excited) that mimics DI to a point.

        It will probably bump the numbers that contribute to the overall driving experience (those all important numbers under the curve) but I don’t think DI is going to give people those peak numbers they crave so much.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “voted with our dollars”

        We don’t care about effing big engines, just get us to the nail salon and the Verizon store!

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        ” think what direct injection, 6,7, and 8 speed transmissions, and computer controls could do. Maybe it’s time to pull out the blueprints for those 400+ cid V8s and see what can be done with them.”

        Why would they bother with that when the Gen. V small block is basically exactly what you are describing?

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Why can’t we have both? Sub-1000cc turbo’d 3-bangers and 6.0L+ NA V8s?

  • avatar
    nels0300

    This is great! Can I please get a Civic Si with a J35?

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      That gave me more wood than Monique Alexander.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A few weeks back, the Accord in my avatar managed ** 35.2mpg ** over a 1,400 mile blast from Toledo to Minneapolis and back. Three pax, luggage, running A/C most of the time. 69mph indicated average speed, mostly 75-80mph driving.

      V6. J35 with cylinder-deactivation. Pulls like an F-18 off a catapult, and can pull down solid 40mpg with two pax, no A/C, steady 70mph cruise (at which time, the engine is turning 2K rpms).

      No way a 2 liter with a gerbil wheel is going to do that without compromises while hauling two tons of car!

      • 0 avatar
        MartyToo

        Does two pax refer to passengers or is it shorthand for twelve bottles of brew? I’ll have to try that in my ’13 coupe. That is turning off the AC, not making way after 12 bottles.

        Parenthetically, a few weeks ago I tried turning off the AC on our CR-V and the onboard computer didn’t think we were saving any fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMWs 2.0T will do at least that well on a trip. I have averaged over 30mpg in Atlanta traffic with one. And your V6 will do significantly worse than the 2.0T in stop and go traffic.

        My 3.0T BMW, which will leave your Acord in the dust, averaged 31mpg on a similar trip to VA and back. And I was running more like 85+ whenever possible.

        Done correctly, turbos are an excellent replacement for displacement. The problem is when companies go too far with it. 2.0L is the sweet spot.

  • avatar
    mason

    This really is nothing new. All one has to do is look at a reputable engine company like Cummins. It was no coincidence they bumped the displacement up from 360 CI to 408 CI when the first round of emissions came about a decade ago.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Billions of dollars wasted because the government can’t generate decent rules/test procedures and stick to them.
    Autos are already vastly cleaner than years ago (I started driving in the early 60’s in cars from the 50’s). How much more money will be spent to eke out the last few grams of N2O or CO2?? Am I really to believe that on a grams/mile basis 5.7 liter engines are cleaner that 1 liter ones??
    I think that annual inspections of smog devices will do more to clean the air than new emission control standards.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This is already done, and other than to check for tampering it merely serves as a tax on the working poor.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The best solution to tailpipe pollution is roadside sensors with cameras. Most tailpipe pollution problems come from a handful of poorly maintained gross polluters. Do the remote-sensing solution, and you could save everyone else the trouble and expense of smog checks. But it would probably cost at least as much overall, especially if you wanted to bother with enforcement outside major city centers, and people would howl about Big Brother. So states try to cobble together something reasonably equitable with a universal recurring check system instead.

        My state tries to thread the needle and does a pretty good job. No smog checks for the first six years of a vehicle’s life, since data analysis showed few gross polluters during that window; then checks every two years thereafter. “But this gives a free ride to folks who can afford to buy new cars at the expense of the working poor who cannot!” you cry, which is true. Which is why for those first six years of a vehicle’s life, the motorist pays an annual smog abatement fee instead of paying for smog checks. Funds thus raised pay for smog repair grants for the lowest-income motorists whose 7+ year old cars flunk smog checks. Truly old cars (pre-1976) are exempt altogether, since the smog controls weren’t terribly effective and repair parts may not be available.

        Of course, another possible solution is to make YOU the remote sensor—that is, have a toll-free 800 number and smartphone app for reporting, and immediate highway patrol response…so that when you’re engulfed in a cloud of black smoke from a coal-rolling knuckle-dragger or stuck in traffic wheezing for breath behind the idiot who removed the cats from his WRX, you can report it, and the a-hole in question immediately gets his car towed and repaired at his expense, plus a suitably deterrent fine. I like that solution.

    • 0 avatar
      jthorner

      “Am I really to believe that on a grams/mile basis 5.7 liter engines are cleaner that 1 liter ones??”

      Yes, that can happen, particularly with regard to Nitrogen Oxide (smog forming) emissions. High peak pressures and high peak combustion temperatures form high NOx levels, and you need those high pressures and tempt to get lots of work out of a tiny engine.

    • 0 avatar
      kurkosdr

      All that circus with more and more stringent CO2 and NOx emission standards is basically a corset that regulators have wore around automakers to force them to make electric cars, and they tighten the corset every couple of years. “So, you won’t make electric cars as to not hurt your parts division? We ‘ll make sure you won’t be able to make fossil-fuel cars soon, not ones that don’t require very expensive emissions control equipment while having crap performance”.

      You can see automakers breathing uncomfortably in their tight EURO and EPA corsets from the fact they have to cheat in order to make big-engine cars use less AdBlue, or the fact VW went down the zeolite-molecular-sponge rabbit hole (which didn’t work with the fuel economy and performance they wanted and disabled it when not in testing) in order to avoid having an expensive AdBlue system in small cars.

      In plain English: If regulators had kept emission regulations to EURO3 standards and you could buy a good car for 7000 bucks/euros, nobody would be looking at electric cars…

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Billions of dollars wasted because the government can’t generate decent rules/test procedures and stick to them.”

      Nonsense. The problem isn’t that the evil gummint can’t come up with a decent test procedure, it’s that any scientifically valid test procedure has to be repeatable to be valid. Otherwise it’s worthless as a basis for comparison.

      And in cases like this, repeatable tests can be optimized for (“gamed.”) That’s inescapable.

      But, given how utterly terrified we in this country are of that whole “science” thing, I don’t know why I should be surprised. “Gut feeling” and “truthiness” are how people want to run things.

      Bleh.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Test for worst case. Repeatable, simple, scientific, and pretty much ungameable. A city loop (better yet a gaggle or poorly correlated ones) and a cruise controlled highway loop is fine as well. But give worst case a substantial weighting in the pass/fail result. Anything else is simply sloppy engineering process.

        Think off shore oil rigs only tested for calms seas, and what you get is current emissions tests, both here and in Europe.

        A public captive to media captive to politicians captive to automakers who makes by far the biggest buck by selling vehicles with huge worst/average case ratios, to vain clowns who like to pretend their Nurburgring racer is as “clean” as a “lesser” car because it can run cleanly at idle, is really the only hurdle preventing worst case testing. Nothing more noble than that.

        I like performance cars as much as the next guy on a car site. But pretending a Panamera emits less than the last gen Miata is simply folly. Stick a sniffer inn the tailpipe during those ‘Ring time runs, and calculate MPG, and you’ll get a result that is much more indicative of the car, as well as being harder to game, than a simple permutation of an idle test.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Test for worst case. Repeatable, simple, scientific, and pretty much ungameable.”

          define “Worst case.” I’ll wait right here while you go off and formulate that test plan.

          which you won’t, because you’re some pseudo-anonymous dimp on the internet, and have the luxury of not needing to back up your words with actions.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Drive it 10 laps at The ‘Ring for time, with the driver paid to set the fastest total time possible. While carrying, say 80 odd percent of max rated payload. For trucks or other GCWR > 2 x GVWR vehicles, throw in a run at 80 % of the latter in some sort of standardized enclosed trailer, as well. Things ain’t that hard….

            The important part isn’t the specifics. but rather to run the test ( a teat, any test) long enough and hard enough, so that you get a picture of emissions, while the vehicle is being operated in its least favorable manner as far as emissions are concerned.

            And since you obviously forgot to take your Asperger meds this morning: “Worst Case” is a euphemism. I am perfectly aware that setting the car on fire would cause even more emissions. From burning tires alone, if nothing else. As would a bollards pull, as far as mpg goes…

            But drive the car hard. Tow close to max for vehicles sold on tow rating, load up all vehicles close to max, and then gun it for long enough that it is virtually impossible for clever engine management coders, to let the engine bank temporary unsustainables for just long enough to get past the test, then switch to a mode orders of magnitude worse in order to pay back the test optimizing “debt” incurred.

            So, 10 lap ‘Ring race with a sniffer in the tailpipe ought to be good enough for government work. Something the current regimen is not.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I love the 1.6L turbocharged engine in my Clubman – lots of bottom end torque for city driving, gets good gas mileage, and still be just fast enough to be fun. It’s a smooth engine too – not quite BMW I6 levels of refinement – but still better than any 4-cyl I’ve owned before (which were mostly the “big” 4-bangers from Toyota and Nissan).

    I don’t miss my 6-cyl or 8-cyl engines “that” much, though the ol’ GM LT1 or a BMW I6 would still top my list of favorites.

    It would be funny – in a perverse way – if the small turbo engine actually created more pollution than a larger NA one. Maybe there are no free lunches?

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      This engine may be adequate for clubman’s weight, but problems start when you put a similar size engine or smaller into a heavier vehicle, like Ford Fusing which uses 1.5L ecoboost as its base engine.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        1) the 1.5 Ecoboost moves the car just fine, and the people who complain about its fuel economy are dim witted leadfoots who don’t understand their late braking, fast starts, and constant on-and-off the throttle on the highway is not “driving gently.”

        2) if you think the 1.5 EB in the Fusion is bad, consider that in Europe the Mondeo can be had with the 1.0 three cylinder.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “…are dim witted leadfoots who don’t understand their late braking, fast starts, and constant on-and-off the throttle on the highway is not “driving gently.””

          Then you have the case where you do your best to drive for efficiency, but being surrounded by dim-witted leadfoots leads to you being tailgated, getting the middle finger, or being passed on a two-lane if you leave 3 car lengths in front of you.

          There are people following you that actually believe that if you leave 2-3 car lengths in front of you, YOU’RE going to make them LATE.

          I realize that most drivers are perpetually late – they try to make up for lost time (due to family obligations, multiple jobs, etc.) by driving too fast, trying to “beat the light” (or “make the train”) which results (en masse) in tremendous fuel waste, pollution, and tire/brake wear.

          Add a small turbo motor to the mix, and you 1.0 liter motor is gulping gas like a 2-3 liter because, you know, physics.

          That’s where EV’s and hybrids shine – many get *better* mileage in situations where small turbo motors get dramatically worse. The worst coal-powered EV will still emit no tailpipe gases, make little noise in slow traffic, emit very little heat while idle (maybe some from the A/C and battery cooling). The worst coal-powered EV’s emissions profile will likely improve with age, where as the DI turbo motor will likely get worse.

          Short of mandatory public transportation into cities and densly-populated areas, EV’s/strong hybrids offer the isolation and freedom that we crave – and may extend the time when we can commute in private.

          tl;dr:
          EV’s/hybrids are great Yada, yada, yada.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “I realize that most drivers are perpetually late”

            And broke, and breeders, and fat, and impulsive, and addictive, and simmering, and superstitious. America didn’t give clocks to monkeys per the Lloyd George quote; America gave them horsepower.

            “the isolation and freedom that we crave”

            Sweetest music!

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Just goes to show you. “Eco” isn’t always eco-friendly in all conditions.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “While small, boosted motors can deliver excellent fuel economy, the nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide output is often out of all proportion to the diminutive displacement.”

    I’m sorry, but this comment doesn’t make that much sense.

    CO2 emissions = fuel economy. If a car’s fuel economy is improved, then its CO2 emissions fall. This is simply a math issue — MPG can be expressed as CO2 grams/mile, and vice versa. There is only one way to reduce CO2 emissions: burn less fuel.

    NOx emissions are controlled with engine design and controls such as catalytic converters. There is a somewhat inverse relationship between CO2 and NOx emissions because the hardware that removes NOx also creates slight reductions in fuel economy, but that’s a minor tradeoff.

    If you compared a car made in 2016 and another made in 1956 that both had identical fuel economy, then you would find that the 2016 car is emitting just a tiny fraction of the NOx while the CO2 emissions of both cars are exactly the same.

    If engines are producing more NOx than they should, then this is due to what is not being done to reduce NOx. Improving that probably requires spending more money on hardware, not adding displacement.

    European countries have moved away from displacement taxes and toward taxes and registration fees that are determined by fuel economy. So now there is less pressure to downsize for the sake of it, although China and Brazil continue to have tax systems that will encourage 1.0-liter engines.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The NOx are higher on these small boosted engines because of the higher combustion temperatures. You can’t keep raising the boost without raising temperature.

      CO2 is directly proportional to the fuel economy. The problem with these small engines is that real world fuel economy isn’t as good as their tests. That’s why Europe is trying to go to a more real world test procedure. In a real world test, the larger displacement naturally aspirated engine will be more fuel efficient.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Turbos have higher thermal efficiency, which creates the tradeoff between higher fuel economy and higher NOx levels.

        “The problem with these small engines is that real world fuel economy isn’t as good as their tests.”

        No, the issue is that European tests are more easily gamed. Ironically, this is due to the onroad testing component that you seem to favor — the adjustment factors that are used to convert lab results into reported figures are manipulated by OEMs that use supposed real world conditions that are most favorable to the testing. If you compare EPA figures to those of similar cars in the EU, the EU invariably reports significantly better fuel economy.

        On-road testing makes things worse, because there is no such thing as a single real world. Tests require uniformity in order for them to make any sense, and uniformity can’t be achieved without laboratory testing.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The EPA test is just as flawed as the EU. The EPA will follow suit soon, and close the loophole. The small boosted turbo engines, game these tests by being used without boost under light loads. In the real world, driver’s are going to by driving in the boost, and will get worse mileage, than I larger naturally aspirated engine. Now, once you get int more classic engine displacements, the engine can be driven off boost. Than you can ad a turbo to give some extra power. 2.0Ts replacing V6s will probably stay.
          Hopefully 1.0-1.4Ts replacing larger engines will hopefully go away.

          Real world tests can be done in a lab if you want consistency. The test just has to be done in a way that it replicates real world conditions. (By the way, Automakers test outdoors currently, and abuse all those variables that you claim aren’t present in the EPA test )

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            What exactly is a “real world condition”, and what makes you believe that you know exactly what it is when there is no such thing?

            There is a reason for advising that “your mileage may vary.”

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The current test is based on “real world” conditions. To create the city portion of the test the EPA identified a typical LA city route, ran a vehicle over that route a number of times and calculated the average acceleration rates, traveling speeds, and time spent at stop lights.

            That was translated into a drive cycle that it replicated on the dyno. Vary from the set parameters of acceleration rates, speeds and stopped time and the test is invalidated and must be repeated until the deviation from the drive cycle is next to nothing.

            They did something similar with the highway portion of the test in a rural area.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Even in LA, not everyone will face the same conditions or have the same conditions every day. And then there is the rest of the country, which varies quite a bit and has different individuals within it.

            I think that it’s fine to use a US city’s “average” (whatever that means), as some sort of benchmark is necessary. But we’re back to “your mileage may vary”. The test results are best used for comparison purposes (i.e. a car rated at 16 mpg is almost surely going to use more fuel than one rated at 25 mpg), not for absolute amounts.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I regularly beat the sticker mpg by at least 10% in any hybrid or downsized boosted engine. People like you get 20% worse than sticker mileage because you’re numbnuts who think “driving gently” means “my tires aren’t squealing all of the time.”

            So whose “real world” should the test simulate? Mine or yours?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            LA is about average, as when it comes to US big city “traffic” scenarios. If it’s the “bench mark” or “Real World” test sequence to compare everything, that’s all we need to know.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            ‘What exactly is a “real world condition”, and what makes you believe that you know exactly what it is when there is no such thing?’

            Just grab a set of different “real worlds.” But make sure to give a decent weighting to absolute worst case. That will largely do away with ridiculous discontinuities like the one VW got demonized for, as well as the “clean for 21 minutes, thereafter spew nuerotixins like life depended on it” tricks other Euros are supposedly utilizing.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      This article fails to mention exactly what emissions are supposedly elevated. My guess is it is NOX because it is formed at higher combustion temperatures which presumably occur at full turbo boost. CO & HC emissions are dealt with effectively by the catalyst. I am having a hard time setting up a thought experiment that proves that emissions from a small turbo motor are any more difficult to deal with than those from a larger NA motor.
      Maybe the regulation emission test done under lab conditions needs to include a large throttle opening, high load segment that simulates climbing a steep two mile grade at highway speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The “high-speed” EPA test cycle accelerates based upon a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds and hits 80 mph.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          No it’s not. Contrary to the PC encyclopedia filed in your rectum, this is not how it the EPA test works. On the highway test schedule, 0-30 takes about 30 seconds. There are plenty of cars that can’t even go to 60 in 10 seconds, yet alone 7.

          https://www.epa.gov/vehicle-and-fuel-emissions-testing/dynamometer-drive-schedules

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You need to work on your Googling skills:

            https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml

          • 0 avatar
            ttacgreg

            “Contrary to the PC encyclopedia filed in your rectum”
            Hmm, I thought we were having a gentlemanly discussion here.
            Obviously I am wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            MBella’s link does include the US06 high speed dynamometer program. It does involve peak acceleration of a rate that would equate to 0-60 mph in 7 seconds, but peak acceleration isn’t sustained long enough to reach 60 mph; which makes sense because less than half of cars sold could complete such a test.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Your link uses pretty much the same charts as the normal EPA site. In the detailed test information, the highway test indicates the lowest max acceleration of 3.2 mph/sec. Even if this was sustained for the whole run from 0-60 (which it isn’t) that would lead to a 0-60 time of 18.75 seconds. Sometimes it pays to actually read the pages you are using as a source.

  • avatar
    amca

    Turbo engines are set up to stay off the turbo during emissions testing. So they don’t burn a lot of fuel, and turn in nice efficiency and emissions numbers. Regulators are happy.

    But out in the real world, they’re unacceptably slow, so drivers put a foot into it and invoke the turbo, frequently. Drivers are happy (except their cars got significantly more expensive to buy and maintain long-term).

    And there’s the fraud: the cars that are being tested effectively aren’t the ones out on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “they’re unacceptably slow”

      Obviously, an acceptance-additive is what’s needed here. I recommend cannabis until more sophisticated approaches are available.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I don’t know, a motorcycled car could be a lot of fun
    http://www.super7cars.com/Super7_Hayabusa_Caterham.html

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    I know this isn’t the exact intent of the article, but count me in as someone who doesn’t get the whole turbo thing as a means to improve fuel economy. I’m sure you *could* eke out some more MPGs but I don’t think that’s been any automaker’s focus at all, so we’re left with situations like the Cruze/Sonic where the turbo engines don’t provide any benefit, really. Or the F-150 from a few years back where the ancient V8 put down nearly identical numbers to the ridiculously named ~ecoboost~.

    I was trying to save my parents money on their new Sorento by convincing them to look for the 2.0L turbo versus the 3.3L V6, but there is literally no fuel economy benefit. There’s not much turbo lag, but the V6 is snappy and quick, especially when compared to the Equinox and Edge we tested. The Civic turbo/CVT seems to be well-calibrated for both performance and fuel economy, but I still have a hard time thinking Honda’s new powertrains are going to be as bulletproof as their 90s ones.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Here are three possible factors.

      A larger motor has a larger amount of internal friction. That exacts its fuel use price with each rotation. A smaller motor that is turbo’d has more power with a lower friction budget due to lower displacement.

      The power sapping internal friction increases with increased RPM. The amount of this friction is amply demonstrated when one gears down to descend a hill.
      A turbo allows a motor to generate more power at lower RPM, thus reducing frictional losses.

      Third factor, smaller motor weighs less than a larger one, contributing to the effort to keep curb weight down.

      • 0 avatar
        nvinen

        The reduced friction from the smaller displacement is pretty much canceled out by the reduced compression ratio necessary to prevent knock when under boost. So when you’re off boost (which you need to be to get reasonable economy) you effectively have a detuned engine.

        Case in point, my wife gets worse economy from her 2l ecoboost Edge than I did from my 3.5l V6 Accord. She’s no leadfoot but I am. They weigh about the same but the Edge has worse aerodynamics (I can tell from the greater wind noise when underway).

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          It’s also negated by the larger combustion chamber pressure under boost.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          The EB engines feature fairly high compression despite being turbocharged.

          10.5:1 in some applications (Ford Trucks for example) and 10:1 in every other application. Hence the need for direct injection on the EB engines.

          In Ford’s truck line-up the NA V6 runs a 10.8:1 compression ratio and NA V8 a 10.5:1

          The Raptor runs a 10:1 compression ratio as does the 2.7 EB while the 3.7 runs a 10.5:1

          http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/specifications/engine/

          On a side note the NA sixxer runs the cam directly on the valves with a DAMB setup and every other application runs a roller finger follower with a lash adjuster. I wonder what the maintenence schedule is for adjusting the valves on the NA V6? Seems to me 100k isn’t that unusual.

          • 0 avatar
            nvinen

            “The EB engines feature fairly high compression despite being turbocharged.”

            Well, not that high for a direct injection engine, and the EBs that I am familiar with have DI. Mazda have NA DI engines with compression ratios up to 15:1 and other manufacturers aren’t too far behind.

            Look, you have a point, and the fact that many of today’s turbos spin up so quickly helps a lot but the fundamental problem is that if you have varying boost level, you effectively have varying compression ratio and it’s difficult to optimise the engine to run over the whole range. And you kinda have to optimise it for the conditions where it’s being driven gently if that’s how the EPA tests are set up, so that tends to mean worse fuel economy when driven harder, ie, more like real world driving.

            Anyway, I am fairly happy with the fuel economy of my wife’s Escape with the 2l EB however I’m far from blown away with it. In my opinion, its main advantage over say a 3l V6 is slightly lower weight and better torque at low RPM for maintaining speed up hills. It’s also less refined than a V6 though, and more complex (and thus more likely to go wrong).

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Well, not that high for a direct injection engine, and the EBs that I am familiar with have DI. Mazda have NA DI engines with compression ratios up to 15:1 and other manufacturers aren’t too far behind.”

            Mazda is not running DI turbo engines with a static CR of 15:1.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            First one must understand what an NA engine is before coherently participating in a discussion.

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        ttacgreg, you don’t feel the internal friction when you downshift for engine braking; that’s the pumping losses from having each cylinder pull a vacuum against the closed throttle plate. One thing I miss while driving my 7.3 around since it has no intake restriction or exhaust brake.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Let the Europeans fool themselves if they want. It was a knucklehead move, from the start. Too small an engine for the car, and you end up working it harder, burning more fuel than the bigger, properly sized engine for the application, real world.

    Cancer causing air pullution is compounded by millions of undersized, crappy pre-emissions small diesels running around Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Ford’s 2.7 and 3.5 EcoThirsts are in the same basket as little turbo engines when moving a 1/2 ton pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Five liters should be the minimum for the F-150, no high revs or hot running turbos necessary. Who needs the complication? The Fast Lane Truck found the 5.0 F-150 the best all-around engine choice, yet Ford was very reluctant to supply them that truck!

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I just drove 1000+ kms in a 1.0L Polo on Iceland. Tough, competent car, but a mileage of 6.5L/100km is just a tad below my 7 seater Honda at home. This 15 year old van averages 7.3L/100km.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    A small firm from West Virginia? I was led to believe all West Virginians knew how to do was mine coal and burn tires.

    Kidding aside, the Wright Brothers got their wish in hoping for “a steam engine in a briefcase” over 100 years too late.

    Too bad it just doesn’t work when you make it work as to air quality. I suppose we’ll see a resurgence in the good ol’ Chevy small block V8 very soon. More power!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Take any engine put four fat Americans behind it and go on that model for emission.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    There have been preliminary studies released that are indicating that direct injected turbo gasoline engines are producing similar emissions to that of diesel engines prior to urea and fine particulate filtration. That would mean that eventually these smaller forced induction DI engines will have to run DEF.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Lou_BC
      I have posted that fact several times on TTAC, that is now the next big issue facing Automakers and will dwarf making diesel engines compliant.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @RobertRyan – yes you have but unfortunately Big Al’s popularity paints you with the same brush.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Lou_BC
          I originally found it, but he then reposted it.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            WTF??? Wobert.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Big Al From Oz
            I posted this several times before , you posted it..
            Interestingly there was dead silence about the posts, but plenty of noise about diesels and their ” demise”

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            As I have stated. Diesel will increase in popularity. Like Australia, diesels in the US will work down more or less from large vehicles as is already occurring.

            Even NA engines struggle to come near advertised mpg’s.

            Gasoline engines must run 14.7:1 air/fuel, hence the throttle. This is hard to change. So power gains vs FE is more restricted than diesel. It takes X amount of gas to produce X power.

            Diesel can vary from around 60:1 idling down to 14.7:1 under load. Diesels are not limited by compression ratio. NOx is holding back diesel compression. So diesel still has a lot more development potential than gasoline.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Even in Australia, the take rate of diesels is dropping rapidly! Face it, diesels had their day in the sun… They also helped block it out!!!!

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “Big Al’s popularity”

          Well, why not? It’s even possible to say Shrub was popular and his unassisted thinking/writing must bear a close resemblance to BAFO’s’.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      No, direct injected engines will just need a cat upgrade, not urea injection. That would negate all benefits from direct injection anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      No, you don’t understand the studies. there is evidence that GDI engines are producing more particulates than both PFI gas engines and diesels *with particulate traps.* They’re not worse than pre-DPF diesels else you’d see brand new cars with GDI belching out clouds of soot.

      the reason this is is that the EPA does not currently define a limit for particulate matter for spark ignited engines. I can understand it if you didn’t know, but RobertRyan has been corrected on this so many times at this point I can only believe he’s trolling.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        There is also the issue of particle size. Soot particles are large. Much smaller ones need not be as visible to the naked eye, yet could still be problematic from a health POV.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Stuki,
          Gasoline particulates are smaller than diesel particulates and will cause greater respiratory issues.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I know they’re smaller, or they would have been detected and tested for a long time ago. I don’t believe anyone can say they cause “greater respiratory issues” as of yet.

            From what I gather, DI engines “may” emit a fair amount of particulates. But only sometimes, intermittently, and under some conditions. And, the size of particles may vary widely…

            Gasoline particulates in general seems to be one of those things that may become a big thing in the future, but is currently not mapped out very well. Europe, which has the most experience and expertise on DI gassers, seem more preoccupied with diesels still. Even particles emitted by the tire/pavement interface, seems to be getting more attention than gasoline combustion particulates. Of course, the perma-fearmongers claim gasoline particulates are waaay more sinister than diesel soot, since the are “small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier and all….” But those guys are scared of basic vaccines, as well……

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    It’s pretty well known that high combustion temperatures (resulting from high compression ratios) favor production of oxides of nitrogen. That’s why today’s “clean diesels” use cooled exhaust gas recirculation. I agree with others on the fact that small displacement + turbo charger does not always equal great fuel economy. One of the great fuel-guzzlers of all time was the first generation Acura RDX, which used a turbocharged 2.4 liter four. IIRC, every mag who tested it, including CR, was astounded at the lousy fuel economy. The replacement 3.5 liter NA V-6 actually gets better fuel economy on both the EPA test and in the hands of the various car mags. On the other hand, our ten years’ experience with a turbocharged Saab 9-5 was that it got pretty good fuel economy, and up to 30 mpg at 65 mph with passengers and stuff and the a/c running. Of course, our Saab wagon was substantially lighter than the Acura RDX, and the implementation of the turbocharging was far more seamless than Honda’s in the RDX, at least when I test-drove the little SUV.
    Variable displacement also seems to be a pretty good fuel economy strategy, at least as I have experienced it in my GMC pickup. Yes, I have heard of oil consumption issues but have yet to experience them, with 47,000 miles on the truck, most of them towing a travel trailer.
    Particulates from a DI engine may be a problem; the interior of my truck’s tailpipe is pretty sooty. However, under heavy load and large throttle openings (i.e. accelerating up a steep hill), the truck will smoke — as will lots of other cars, I have noticed, not all of them DI.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “Saab 9-5 was that it got pretty good fuel economy, and up to 30 mpg at 65 mph with passengers and stuff and the a/c running.”

      If Norm were driving, it’d be closer to 40mpg FYI :p

  • avatar
    markogts

    What about simply going electric and pull the plug on ICEs (pun intended)?

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @Steph Williams. “However, Euro 6’s days are numbered” Really?

  • avatar
    Ermel

    It’s begun to happen. The Volkswagen Amarok, which you’d probably call a compact pickup truck over there (it looks pretty big on a Euro scale), just got upgraded from a 2.0 inline-4 to a 3.0 V6 as its only available engine (in three power output levels). All TDI of course, this still is Europe … but if that’s what it takes for Euro 6 (or Euro 7), bring it on!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Ermel
      Joy here on that happening. Now if they did it with the new Crafter another 2 Litre engine,(but a new design) You might have people wanting to buy more VW Commercials

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    It appears that the principal problem with tiny turbos is that they will unavoidably be driven by male homo sapiens who simply can’t say no to boost.

    AVs to the rescue! Or gene-culling.

  • avatar

    My first car was 1100cc, and it went reasonably well with its CVT; able to keep up with 1600cc vehicles on twisty lanes.

    My mothers car at the time had a 850cc twin opposed cylinders air cooled engine. CVT as well. It got her around cheaply if not quickly.

    SO I wouldn’t say we have hit bottom with current engine displacements, since past cars have been smaller Maybe we are at a minimum considering the heavier and better appointed vehicles that we have today.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    It seems that the simpler solution would be to use more hybrid systems. If batteries get smaller, more efficient, and less expensive then it would make sense to make hybrid systems more available even on these smaller engines.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Just go electric, and leave the pollution at the power plant.

    The plant manages its emissions with economies of scale, and doesn’t have a daily warmup cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      We don’t have the generation/grid capacity to support a wholesale shift to EVs overnight. And don’t trot out the “off peak” nonsense again; in the summer many regions struggle to meet demand thanks to air conditioning usage going way up.

      • 0 avatar

        Good luck making cars switch overnight. Average car life is over 12 years. Even if all sales of new ICE cars were banned midnight tonight it would take a decade or more before they were replaced.

        I believe the grid can adapt over a decade or so.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    From a pure efficiency point of view diesels are the best option for turbo charging….. but then you have the emissions.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Those darn pesky “emissions”! Diesels were awesome until THOSE came along!! Diesels and clean emissions are like oil and water, Godzilla and King Kong, Turner and Hooch, especially with smaller diesels.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        As we are seeing un this article gasoline is no different. As pressure and heat rises coupled with current fuel deliveey to maximise FE, unfriendly chemistry occurs.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Steph,
    I’m going to the Paris Auto Show today. Last day, I wanted to go a few days ago, but ………..

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I’m not sure how the author read the Emissions Analytics web site and came to the conclusions that he did.
    Almost every car that got an A grade for Air Quality has a turbocharged gasoline engine between 1.2l and 2.0l.

    Sure, you can pick and choose a few cars that seem out of place in the rankings (as he did with the two Fords and one Mini), but the overall trend is very clear.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Exactly none of my complaints after a 4 day rental of an Ecoboosted Expedition are power train related. That motor/transmission was flawless and exceeded my expectations for power delivery, responsiveness, modulation and economy. The seats, ride, HVAC, infotainment, visibility, ingress/egress, and road noise … This vehicle is not my thing.


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