By on October 26, 2015


Honda Europe announced Monday their engine lineup for the new, 10th-generation Honda Civic, and it’s completely different than the engines we will get in North America.

The Civic will once again be a global product with the same architecture and design employed in both North America and Europe. Under the hood though, the compact will be powered by 1-liter and 1.5-liter VTEC turbo engines on the Old Continent. In North America, we get the choice of a new 1.5-liter turbo engine — which is different from the one in Europe — or the legendary K20 2-liter naturally aspirated four cylinder.

However, with automakers downsizing their engines across all products, could that European 1-liter turbo three-cylinder engine end up in our Honda Fit?

Honda wouldn’t be the first automaker in North America since the resurgence of turbocharging to put such an engine in a subcompact car. Or in a subcompact crossover.

Ford currently offers the Fiesta with a similar 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and a high-po 1.6-liter turbo for the Fiesta ST. General Motors offers a 1.4-liter turbo in the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact and Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore subcompact crossovers.

By offering a turbocharged engine in the Fit, Honda could either expand its current offering of engines or replace the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with the turbocharged unit, possibly offering greater fuel economy — at least in EPA testing.

Or, using GM’s template, the boosted mill could be used in the new Honda HR-V.

When asked, Honda provided no guidance on the future of the Fit or HR-V.

We will have a full review of the tenth-generation Honda Civic sedan Tuesday.

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38 Comments on “Could Force-induced Euro Civic Give Honda N.A. Turbo Fits?...”

  • avatar

    If mileage doesn’t jump to 55 combined than its pointless. Oh look:

    “The EPA rates this EcoBoost at 29 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway (2 mpg better than the most efficient four-cylinder Focus in the city, and the same on the highway). We managed 33 mpg, dead-on the EPA’s combined estimate and 3 mpg better than we saw in the 1.0-liter Fiesta sedan.”

    33 combined and it was 3mpg BETTER than Fiesta? My 1998 Saturn did 25/36 and on 50/50 split returned 29-30. I’m completely serious in saying losing a cylinder and half the displacement while only making marginal net gains is insane.

    Pay more, get less and don’t you dare think you will be getting more fuel economy. Get back to work, prole.

    • 0 avatar

      “My 1998 Saturn did 25/36”

      That probably isn’t the case based upon the current formula used for reporting fuel economy. Be sure not to compare apples to oranges — adjusting the old results to the new formula would knock a few MPG off of each figure.

      And the 54.5 MPG CAFE requirement uses a different formula, so it’s something closer to 40 MPG. And 40 is an industry-wide target that will surely prove to be negotiable and subject to new interpretations that favor the industry, not a specific requirement for each vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with your points because the formulas do change and it is important for people to realize a 1995 vehicle’s expected mileage is not the same as one in 2015. I did however keep a close check on my mileage for most the period I owned the ’98 Saturn. From 2006 (82K) to around 2012 (150ish) I would routinely receive 29/30 on my 50pct highway commute. I checked every other tank by dividing mileage by gallons added, it was very consistent for all those years. I stopped paying attention after 2012 and the city mileage toward the end was well below 25, although the auto trans was slowly dying from 2012 onward. My current Saturn/auto barely eeks out 24 in city only driving for whatever reason, and I don’t take it on the highway much.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t know what you have, but I hope that you are not comparing a 2.4-liter motor with almost 170 hp to a 1.9-liter motor with 100 hp.

          Most of the efficiency improvements made to motors over the last few decades have been traded off for more power and the need to haul more weight. A few decades ago, a 100 hp motor was considered sporty; now, we have minivans with 250+ hp that can keep up in a straight line with older sports cars.

          • 0 avatar

            I was reading through the stats chart and the modern 1.6L ecotec boasts almost 50 more horses than the SL2. Presuming they detuned it to around that level you would probably gain another 3-4 MPG.

          • 0 avatar

            The Saturn S-series (GM Z-body) uses a 1.9L N/A motor in either L24 SOHC (SL1) or LL0 DOHC (SL2) form mated to a 4 spd auto transaxle. I think the SOHC was around 100bhp and the DOHC was rated at 120bhp in the second and third generation (96-99, 00-02).


            You bring up weight, which I think is the real story here. Curb weight for the SL2 was 2,431 lbs, a 2015 Focus is 3,055 lbs per Google. Outside of the sport editions of small cars such as Fiesta or Focus, the motor should be aimed at economy but with such added weight more power is needed. I’m not seeing a realistic way to reduce weight in a less expensive economy car unless the economies of scale on materials such as aluminum can be utilized at some later time.


            Tuning is a good point which didn’t occur to me, although as Pch points out the C-segment economy cars seem to have a weight problem as well.

        • 0 avatar

          Its still a difficult comparison as new cars as newer cars are faster and much safer than older models and that comes at a mileage cost. I’m sure Honda could make a slow deathtrap that would get stellar fuel economy – but nobody wants that.

          • 0 avatar

            True, but newer or faster does not necessarily equate to less economy. The 2016 Honda Fit returns “Up to 33 city, 41 highway” with a 1.5L I4 and has a curb weight of 2,513 to 2,642 lbs. The Fit is close in overall footprint to the early 90s Honda Civic and offers much better features and safety. If Honda lost a cylinder on this model they would be much closer than the Fords will ever be to hitting a 50ish figure of fuel economy. Simply put weight is a significant factor as pointed out above but its not the only factor. The curb weight of a Ford Fiesta is 2,537 to 2,720lbs per Google and yet per C&D it received 3mpg less than the heavier Focus (maybe it was a Fiesta ST?).

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Mitsubishi makes one and sells a fair few of them. Internet commenters are convinced that the Mirage is the automotive equivalent of picking up a discount escort off Craigslist, even though it’s bigger, faster, and safer than the CR-Xs of yore.

          • 0 avatar

            “Your mileage may vary.”

            You simply cannot compare a magazine test with the EPA test. The EPA test is done in a lab and is consistent; fuel usage on a track or a public road will vary quite a bit.

            We need to use data in its proper context, not jumble it together and compare apples to oranges. You can compare one EPA test figure to another (although the older figures need to be adjusted to match the new calculation method), but you can’t compare it to another country’s test or to a magazine.

            You probably can’t even compare two tests performed by the same magazine with each other, as the magazine reviewers will not drive each vehicle in exactly the same way under the exact same conditions. The data is anecdotal at best, and garbage at worst.

          • 0 avatar

            Honda made a slow non-death trap with stellar fuel economy (first generation Honda Insight) and not many wanted that!

    • 0 avatar

      Critical thinking is…. critical.

      Arbitrary benchmarks are… arbitrary.

      Fiesta gets better gas mileage with 1 less gear than the Focus with the same engine. So we are already off to a bad start. Even if the Focus did better though, not surprising… longer vehicles have higher potential aerodynamic efficiency. This is why the Mazda 6 is only ~1MPG down from the 3 with the same engine, despite weighing much more.

      And being that no car hits 55 MPG combined I guess they are all pointless.

      Hyperbole is…. hyperbolic. And indicative of a lack of confidence in one’s stance.

      • 0 avatar

        Maymar points out a single source isn’t definitive, and he is correct be it C&D or EPA. I’m not sure what your sources are, but the Fiesta weighs 400lbs *less* in basic form than the Focus, I hope in normal N/A form it can squeak out slightly better mileage.

        2016 Ford Focus curb weight
        2,935 to 3,055 lbs

        2016 Ford Fiesta curb weight
        2,537 to 2,720 lbs

        You bring up aerodynamics and drag which is a good point.

        “and being that no car hits 55 MPG combined I guess they are all pointless.”

        If a small economy car (say Fiesta) which is running on three cylinders in 1.0L form cannot get close to this figure, then yes it has more or less failed. How much less of a gas motor can ya go and still move the car? Maybe we’ve simply hit the limits of the gas ICE given current regulations, emissions, and content requirements.

        • 0 avatar

          Something to remember too – highway mpg is not affected nearly as much by downsizing engines as city mileage. This is where they old saw about V6 midsizers doing about the same on the highway as their less powerful 4cyl versions comes into play. And it is broadly correct, because for a given vehicle, speed X requires HP Y. It doesn’t really matter that much how you generate Y. Fewer cylinders mean less friction, and in theory a .5L cylinder is supposed to be the most efficient size so larger or smaller than that can have an effect, but for the most part if you are just tooling down the highway the numbers are going to be pretty close. In the city though, where an engine spends a lot of time idleing, the smaller engine has the advantage. Turbos let you have the smaller engine advantage when you don’t need power, but the larger engine advantage when you do need it. But if you use the power, you will use the gas. Turbos also allow better efficiency by moving the torque peak lower and making the torque curve flatter – this lets a small engine run taller gears. Lower rpms is more efficient as well.

          But for sure – we are right up against the efficiency limits of ICE engines. Nobody is going to make a car that is radically more efficient on the highway than anyone else. Even a Camry Hybrid, with all it’s hybrid goodness, only does a piddling amount better on the highway than the normal 4cyl mid-sizers, despite it’s potentially fantastic city mileage. A Camry Hybrid does 39mpg on the highway. I find it quite impressive that a MUCH more powerful and far less designed for efficiency BMW 328i will do 36! Both per the EPA. But the Camry almost doubles the BMWs city mileage.

          Finally, people get WAY too hung up on small mpg differences. When you are +/- 40mpg, 2-3mpg either way is rounding error. 2-3mpg when you are +/- 15 is a big deal.

        • 0 avatar

          Again, arbitrary benchmarks are arbitrary. Why is that a failure? And yes, the ability to move a car of a certain weight requires some base level of horsepower; downsizing only works so well up to a point and can become a detriment to gas mileage beyond that.

          The difference will come in either weight reduction, radical ICE techs (i.e. “camless” valvetrains, variable compression ratios etc), or the increased proliferance of hybrid/plug-in/regenerative tech. If there were more innit we would have found it already.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re going to use a Car & Driver’s mileage as tested, you’re already off to a bad start – they’re the first to admit they drive with…gusto, and that affects their fuel economy. Without actually looking up specifics, I seem to recall that the Fiesta Ecoboost is generally lauded as getting roughly the mileage it’s supposed to (and, which is to say, a slight bump over the 1.6), and feels torquier doing it.

      Also, unfortunately, however good your Saturn might’ve been on the highway, that’s pretty much irrelevant these days – given the spacial demands people make of smaller cars, and that no one wants to sit on the floor anymore, everything has to punch a bigger hole in the air now, and that hurts highway economy.

    • 0 avatar

      This is why mileage needs to be given as an inverse: not only is 55mpg not going to happen (prius is king at 50 mpg for a reason) it is a pointless goal.

      assuming a 150,000 mile life:

      15 mpg: 10,000 gallons
      30 mpg: 5,000 gallons
      50 mpg: 3,000 gallons
      55 mpg: 2,727 gallons

      So you are insisting that we not only pry 10% more effiency out of a prius, but do that for a mere 272 gallons of fuel? Then there is that whole issue of comparing a modern safety vehicle to a 115hp 2000lb piece of plastic. Obvious troll is obvious (or am I getting my late 90s Saturns confused)?

      • 0 avatar

        “So you are insisting that we not only pry 10% more effiency [sic] out of a prius, but do that for a mere 272 gallons of fuel?”

        I don’t make up the CAFE laws, but it strikes me as less cylinders and less displacement should equal better fuel economy. Reality seems to disagree.

        “Then there is that whole issue of comparing a modern safety vehicle to a 115hp 2000lb piece of plastic”

        The model du jour is today’s 2000lb piece of plastic. Technology is supposed to advance and yes a lot of it has in twenty five years, but the question I raise is has the fuel economy, or have we hit its limit?

        “Obvious troll is obvious”

        Tell you what, enjoy the early 2000s fuel economy in your expensive economy car. Thanks for playing our game.

  • avatar

    Obvious question: Given that a turbo Honda engine was basically required for a podium position in Formula 1 in the mid-late 1980s, why did Honda wait until those engineers retired to turbocharge a civic? I think they may have turbocharged 3 or 4 oddball projects since then, but nothing serious.

    Getting the same mileage as a smaller displacement on a turbo isn’t rocket science. You just need to keep the compression ratio the same and retard ignition under boost (unsure if typical engineering practice allows this, it might cost an extra dime for a fail-open wastegate to avoid grenading the engine under a sensor failure). Sure, you get less power per psi (not to mention your mileage is even more in the toilet under boost), but where on the EPA test are you under boost?

    On the other hand, traditional turbos kill the compression ratio and the off-boost (read all) mileage with it. Allows tons more performance (get every hp you can out of each psi) but still can’t match the power/cost/efficiency of displacement.

    Hopefully low-boost turbos don’t have to pay too steep a price in CR/retarded ignition. The only guy I knew with a cruze eco hated the thing. And remember to pour one out for the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire and its “turbo rocket fuel”. If drivers could be convinced to refill a tank of water-methanol mix, we could avoid all this issue and have decent boost AND CR.

    Of course, I wonder how much longer the turbo charger can hold out against hybrid systems. Things like LiFePO4 batteries mean that you don’t need a Tesla-sized (cost and weight) battery array for “ludicrous speed”. Hybrids don’t need to be like a prius. Think a tesla with a motor replacing 90+% of the battery.

    • 0 avatar

      Modern engine tech has largely eliminated the need to reduce compression ratio on turbo motors. BMWs turbos use the same CR as their last non-turbos, in some cases higher. Direct Injection being the biggest improvement, along with the ability to adjust timing on a cylinder-by-cylinder basis through advanced knock sensing and individual cylinder computer controlled ignition systems.

      At this point, I still have to think that the upfront costs of a turbo have to be much cheaper than the upfront costs of a hybrid system. But, as always, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Pay me now, or pay me later, but you are going to pay one way or another! I’d rather pay a carmaker and maybe someday a mechanic than pay oil companies.

      A fascinating experiment would be to put the turbo triple from the 1.0L Fiesta into that old Saturd SL1 and see what it does. If we could live within the performance, comfort, and safety levels of 20-odd years ago we could have more fuel efficient cars. Smaller holes to punch in the air would improve highway mileage, less weight would improve city mileage. Personally, todays cars are quite good enough in mileage, I don’t want to drive a tin box anymore. BTDT.

      • 0 avatar

        This. I think the compulsory nature of safety regs is silly. For example, I commute by motorcycle for probably ~5000-7000 miles a year. Aside from tires and better brakes they are pretty much the same donorcycles they’ve been for the last century. Fatalities per mile and single vehicle accidents are down as cars in isolation are safer and better at minimizing injury. But accident rates are up as we are becoming worse, more distracted drivers. So the biggest change would come from improving training and altering culture.

        But all that aside I too would love the choice of being able to get a lighter, less safe car if I wanted. I would gladly sell my motorcycle if I could get a ~15K Ariel Atom style open wheel car for example. That would change the sports car realm a lot. And emissions would probably go down as those cars could still run modern emission control equipment.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure if the water/methanol injection works in the modern era.

      They do make the diesel guys put in “cow piss” occasionally to get over the emission hump, but not sure if the average gas car owner would sign up for that level of involvement.

  • avatar

    There is all this talk about “real world mileage.” Let’s use two engines as examples – the 2.0 turbo in a Mercedes C-Class and a V6 Accord. The Accord makes 252lb/ft at 4900 rpm while the Mercedes makes 273 at 1300 RPM.

    The typical driver is far more comfortable with low end torque vs. revving the hell out of an engine so I assume the person driving the Mercedes is getting worse than expected mileage because they are using more power vs. a NA V6.

  • avatar
    Seth Parks

    This move may be a reflection of Honda’s global strategy. Honda ranks 10th in China and controls well under it’s goal of 10% market share there. China recently announced preferential tax treatment for vehicles with engines displacing less than 1.6L, so Honda’s displacement decrease with the addition of turbocharging may simply reflect their need to boost their competitiveness in China, while maintaining greater uniformity in global production.

  • avatar

    If this thing can fit an infant seat and deliver the feedback my 09 Civic does, I may be able to look past its god awful looks for that turbo power.

  • avatar

    Honda’s powertrain strategy for North America reveals the company’s confusion regarding CAFE and shifting consumer preferences.

    On the one hand, Honda will offer a powerful 1.5L turbo with a CVT that will suppress its power output. On the other hand, Honda will offer genuine efficiency by bumping standard N/A displacement and tuning for low-end power.

    One foot in the turbo vaporware camp, and one foot in the real world. Should we applaud Honda’s plan to accommodate everyone or mock their inability to make a decision?

  • avatar

    The author states that this civic will have a k-series motor for the 2.0. Is this correct? If so, source. That would be great.

    • 0 avatar

      During the media drive of the 2016 Civic I attended, the powertrain engineer who did the engine presentation said it was a new version of the K20.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks Mark. Loooong time lurker. This literally made me create an account just to find out. The K architecture is incredibly good, and I’m curious if this new K motor will be similar architecture in the CR-V, et al. The aftermarket would be happy to hear this.

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