Hyundai The New Honda In Engine Design Leadership

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
hyundai the new honda in engine design leadership

Honda has always been proud of the word “Motor” in its name. It’s the world’s largest producer of internal combustion engines (all those lawnmowers), and has a long history of engine technology leadership. From the CVCC to VTEC and the recent i-VTEC, Honda was a consistent leader, especially in high-efficiency and high-output four cylinder engines. No more. The Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) revolution is on in full force, and most major manufacturers have released or announced state-of-the-art DI engine programs. And none more convincingly than Hyundai, with its new 200 hp 2.4 liter Theta II GDI. Where’s Honda’s? While we’re waiting, let’s take a closer look at Hyundai’s:

Gasoline Direct injection has been around some fifteen years, when Mitsubishi introduced its GDI engine in Japan and Europe. But the Mitsubishi approach, which was imitated by many manufacturers, involved the tricky stratified charge ignition of a super-lean mixture, which takes place under low-load operation. The technical challenges of managing that approach and resultant emission problems have increasingly made that a sideline, especially in the more stringent emission limits of the US market. Honda and most other manufacturers have versions of that technology in their domestic markets.

Meanwhile, the technology of super-high pressure injection systems for diesel engines have been adapted to gas engines without the stratified charge ultra-lean mode. GM jumped on the bandwagon back in 2004, and its latest 2.4 L four in the Buick La Crosse, Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain have class-leading EPA numbers. And Ford has committed to GDI across its line, beginning with its Eco-Boost engines. Hyundai has also announce a wholesale adoption of GDI, and their new four has class-leading specifications.

As this chart shows, Hyundai’s GDI will deliver the goods with not only improved horsepower and torque numbers compared to the non GDI Honda, Ford and Toyota, as well as its claim of a 10% mileage improvement. With 200 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, Hyundai has wisely decided to kill the V6 option in the 2011 Sonata.For a detailed press release of the Theta II GDI, click here:

This chart also shows an anomaly with GM’s GDI four that isn’t readily explainable. GM’s EPA estimates for the 2011 Regal (20/30) are strangely low, considering that the same engine/transmission combo achieves a 22/32 rating in the heavier and much less aerodynamic Equinox/Terrain CUVs. It’s not like GM to trumpet low mileage estimates.

Undoubtedly, Honda (and Toyota) will have current-technology GDI coming, but their reputation for leadership has clearly taken a hit. Not only have the Hyundai/Kia combination surpassed Honda in global vehicle sales, but now also in engine technology.

Join the conversation
2 of 68 comments
  • Thissiteisfornoobs Thissiteisfornoobs on May 12, 2012

    You have got to be kidding me. 1st off you clearly don't know your honda's because you just compared the lowest performance k series engine to the highest performance hyundai inline 4 engine. A true comparison would be between the 2006-2008 acura tsx motor which is the full i-vtec 2.4L motor which makes quick work of any inline four on the market to date. How do I know? I own one, and it makes 235whp with bolt ons... Don't spread your bullshit like you know something. I guarantee you couldn't even tell me the difference between a k24a2 and a k24a1... Honda's jdm k20a which was introduced in 2001-2002 was putting out 220hp in stock trim ten years ago and your trying to say they are behind the curve?!?! WOW you have a lot to learn. Not to mention the fact that hyundai has to collaborate with chrysler and mitsubishi just to come up with a design that still cannot compete with the k-series motors which are now over ten years old. I find the name of this site very inaccurate after reading this absolute bull shit of an article...

  • Thissiteisfornoobs Thissiteisfornoobs on May 12, 2012

    Oh, and to clear up some other bullshit I see on this page, the tsx motor (k24a2) makes peak torque at 3500rpm and max hp at nearly the same rpm so don't give me that high revving honda bullshit argument either. This site is for noobs, no other way to describe it...

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂