More Bounce To The Ounce Ford 3-Banger Ecoboost

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

The introduction of three-cylinder (and even parallel twin) engines in subcompact and compact cars is a much needed dose of whimsy and engineerng prowess is a segment that is crippled by terminal homogeny. Although we don’t get the Fiat TwinAir powertrain, Ford’s 1.0L 3-cylinder Ecoboost will be coming to our shores, and by the time it goes on sale here, we’ll already have the tools to extract some more juice from the sub-1000cc engine.

EVO magazine has tested a 1.0L Focus with a Superchips ECU flash; power is up from 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft to 145 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque. You’ll have to wind the engine out to over 6000 rpm to make peak power – on the other hand, peak torque is available at 500 fewer rpm, meaning the 167 lb-ft comes in at around 2600 rpm.

The reflash costs about $737 USD, and there’s no indication of whether we’ll be able to get our hands on it Stateside. If it were made available, it would certainly liven up the theoretical Ecoboost Focus, and one can only imagine how it entertaining it would be in an Ecoboost Fiesta compared to the dour, lethargic 1.6L engine in the current car.

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  • Loj Loj on Sep 19, 2012

    I'm trying to wrap my head around a peak of 165 lb/feet torque at 2600 RPM and peak HP of 145 at over 6000. Mathematically it doesn't seem to make sense. Does that mean that although torque peaks early, it's a relatively flat curve from there on? In any case, those are crazy numbers for a tiny motor and I love it. And I could not agree more with this statement: "The introduction of three-cylinder (and even parallel twin) engines in subcompact and compact cars is a much needed dose of whimsy and engineerng prowess is a segment that is crippled by terminal homogeny." Bring on the 2 cylinders next!

    • Feds Feds on Sep 19, 2012

      Yup. Turbos have notoriously (and in this day and age, electronically imposed) flat torque curves.

  • Perc Perc on Sep 19, 2012

    I took the 125-horse Ecoboost out for a spin last week. It came in the form of a Titanium-spec Focus Wagon. It left me positively surprised. 125hp doesn't sound like a lot, but bear with me here. It's not a performance option, it's a replacement for the normal ~1.6 liter 4-pot that has served as the default choice in this market segment for decades. It did the job really well, with noticeably more low-end grunt than a normal 1.4-1.6 liter naturally aspirated engine would have. The engine note was strange, but not bad in any way. It just takes some time getting used to. I accidentally hit the rev limiter once. I was exiting a roundabout rather ... vigorously... and my ears told me I was somewhere in the middle of the powerband when I clearly wasn't. It was a six speed manual with shift indicators bossing me around whenever it felt like I was in the wrong gear. It wanted me to stay below 2000rpm most of the time and I never got the feeling I was lugging the engine. You could certainly hear the three cylinders firing one at a time when you floored it at 1600-1700 rpm, but it never felt like it couldn't take it. If you're in Europe and in the market for a reasonably priced Focus, there's certainly no reason to go for a four-cylinder. The ecoboost is a damn good engine. Let's just hope it's reliable, too. As for the Focus itself, not bad. I'd consider it if I was in the market.

  • Tjh8402 Tjh8402 on Sep 19, 2012

    leave it to a 3 cylinder to make me actually find an electric car's drivetrain to be appealing. I'd take the silent souless power of an electric motor over the unbalanced buzzy sound and feel of a 3 cylinder any day. I find most 4 cylinders to be pedestrian feeling enough...can't imagine life with a 3.

    • See 2 previous
    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Sep 19, 2012

      The Ecoboost 3 has an offset crankshaft, which is supposed to help with the vibration issues. Honda did the same thing with the engine in the original Insight.

  • C170guy C170guy on Sep 19, 2012

    Wow. When I first read that Ford had a 3 cylinder I thought they were starting a new line of garden tractors. The truth is even more bizarre than fiction though. It isn't a joke, but it is! At least a lawn tractor has a smooth hydrostatic and not the DCT (which should be a triumph of modern engineering, but isn't.) They had a good run for a few years, but the party looks like it's over. It's hard not to believe that they have lost their minds. How much money will they charge for the 3, and how much will people pay to not even get a real engine? Maybe there is a sucker born every minute and they want to make a point of it? Is this one of their new engines with a timing belt, too? For as much worship as the Mulally era gets, I have seen no good come from it. What's next under the hood, two rickshaw pedalers for an extra $5995? Automakers try so hard to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and their talent really shines sometimes. It's shocking. A few years ago they were about to be the best automaker in the world. Painful to watch sometimes.

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    • Srogers Srogers on Sep 19, 2012

      @srogers This sounds like you have an ax to grind. Fords seem to be doing OK as far as reviews of their recent products go. Can all reviewers be either bought or blind to these glaring mistakes? I know that My Touch is awkward, and their twin clutch autos are lumpy, but neither is a big deal to me. I'd happily buy a Focus today if my old one needed replacement.