By on October 27, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 2.0T

Updated with pricing more reflective of the U.S. market for this M-B Canada press car.

There’s no replacement for displacement. Or so I was taught during my formative years, a period in which I read multiple buff books per month and listened to old men attempt to define torque.

But Audi USA announced last week it would slot the engine from its smallest sedan, the A3, under the hood of Audi’s largest utility vehicle, the Q7.

This week, I’m driving a 4,045-pound, $70,465 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. Labelled the E300, this heavily optioned E-Class is equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine related to the 2.0-liter in the company’s front-wheel drive, entry-level sedan, the CLA.

4,000 pounds. $70,465. 2.0-liter inline-four. Y’alright with that?

The reason additional cylinders were sought after was not always torque alone. Throttle response. Engine sounds. The underlying awareness of surplus. Other factors besides outright numerical supremacy were, and are, at play.

But this current age of 2.0-liter turbocharged engines is also the age in which General Motors’ 5.3-liter V8s provide disappointing eco-minded response upon first application of throttle. Are you there, V8?

This age of direct-injection 2.0-liter turbocharged engines that sound like diesels at idle is also the age of 600-horsepower Nissans in desperate need of aftermarket exhausts. Moreover, additional cylinders are no guarantee of surplus torque. Our long-term Honda Odyssey’s 3.5-liter V6 maxes out with 23 fewer lb-ft of torque than the 2.0T with which it’s sharing a driveway this week — and it needs an additional 3,500 rpm to achieve its high-water mark.

This isn’t to say a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine will always have better throttle response than an overhead-valve V8, nor that it will sound better than a twin-turbocharged V6 or generate more torque than a naturally aspirated V6. One thing is for sure, however: you can’t say for certain how it will feel until you try it.

Preconceived notions suggest a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, even turbocharged, just won’t feel right in a big German luxury sedan. This isn’t the CLA. This isn’t even the C-Class. This is an E-Class, a properly big car. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic is an Accord-sized four-door (it’s within a tenth-of-an-inch in height and width and less than half-an-inch longer) that weighs 600 pounds more than an Accord and is priced from $55,575 in 4Matic form.

A 2.0-liter turbo four? Seriously?

It’s fine. There’s no problem. Don’t get your hackles up. Lay down your weapons.

The E300 4Matic accelerates from rest to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, Mercedes-Benz USA says. It’ll do 29 miles per gallon on the highway, according to the EPA rating.

One user on, with nine fill-ups, is averaging 27 mpg. We’re averaging 28 miles per gallon in a mix of highway and suburban driving.

A decade ago, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic’s 3.5-liter V6 produced 268 horsepower, 27 more than the 2017 E300’s 2.0-liter turbo four, but with 15 fewer lb-ft of torque. The 3.5-liter was rated at a measly 19 mpg city; 23 highway.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic Woodside

The 2017 E300’s 2.0T isn’t perfect. In Eco and Comfort modes, there’s a disconcerting dullness to your right foot’s initial throttle application. Even in Sport and Sport+ modes, in which the 2.0T and the nine-speed automatic are much more eager, it’s impossible not to be cognizant of the E300’s heft. But this lack of gumption is only for the briefest of moments, before all the torque comes on stream and momentum is sustained. The E300 backs up its badge with big-displacement passing power.

Ah yes, the badge. Perhaps I no longer care about cylinder counts, but Mercedes-Benz clearly believes some potential customers will. Although in the CLA’s transverse application, with the 2.0T codenamed M270, the CLA becomes the CLA250, this longitudinal application (M274) begets the E300 badge.

“It’s like a 3.0-liter V6,” they seem to be telling you. “Because a 2.0T badge would be beneath the E-Class.”

I want the enthusiast in me to cry out for a V8 engine. (Mercedes-Benz USA will get around to offering an upgrade, but E400 equals a 3.0-liter V6 turbo.) I want to want more engine, more displacement, more hemispherical combustion chambers, flat-plane cranks, and burbling exhausts. But that stuff doesn’t matter in this car, and it won’t matter in an Audi Q7. Technology is moving the four-cylinder turbo forward. It’s not always desirable. (See: Mustang EcoBoost Automatic.) It’s not always particularly economically advantageous. (See: Mustang EcoBoost Automatic.)

Still, in routine daily driving, deciphering the differences between one engine configuration and another in a car as silent and smooth as a $70,000 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is nigh impossible.

Thus, there is a replacement for displacement. Get used to it.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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81 Comments on “Confession: I’ve Stopped Caring How Many Cylinders Are Under The Hood...”

  • avatar

    Y’alright with that?

    NO, not at a certain price point.

    In the meat of the market (with several grand on either side the $35K average new car transaction price) I really couldn’t care what the cylinder counts are. For myself I’ve found that I’m happy as long as the engine is putting out around 300 hp.

    Now if I’m ponying up $50K PLUS – I expect at a minimum a turbo 6 or an honest to god V8. I don’t care if nobody knows, its for my own personal gratification. I’m not going to be buying a Genesis or a Lexus or a Mercedes or a Cadillac with less than 8 cyl.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with The Principal

      A four has some inherent rock. A v6 has some rock, and I love my almost electric I-6. I know you can blow a four to 400 hp if you do it right, but when you are taking more than basic transportation money from me, I want more for that money.

      I liked my GTi, TDi, and both Saab Turbos, all fours. Nothing wrong with a four.

      If I buy a 20K FWD car, I expect a four. At 50k I want a six or eight, not balance shafts, or liquid motor mounts.

      In yurrup, land of the $10 gallon, you see a lot of e class with a 1.8 liter engine, or a 520i. Here in the US, the gas consumption isn’t nearly as big a deal, so yes, I want my bigger engine with more spark plugs.

      What we really care about is Waftable Torque. I don’t need the engine to work up steam…we had a Volvo 240 turbo that would “get angry” on boost and tear up the had two modes, slow roll around town and ‘peeved off’ is very different than my 3.6 caddy which just torques you there. Boy racy is fun in the GTi, but not the right thing for a big four door sedan…..I want gawd’s own planetary pull, not a weasel having a fit under my hood, even if the weasel has been doping and is on meth.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I agree with The Principal, too. This is a luxury car, not a prole mobile. In fact, I shed a few tears when M-B eliminated its straight 6 in favor of a V-6 in that car. Small (<1.8 liters) fours can be pretty smooth. More displacement than that and they are distinctly agricultural, including those from M-B. I suppose "turbo lag" can be dealt with, but I've never driven a forced induction engine that didn't have non-linear throttle response. The best was our '02 Saab Aero, so long as you didn't push the "S" button; and it was hooked to an automatic transmission.

        There is no free lunch here. Turbocharging results in very high combustion pressures which, among other things, makes cylinder head gaskets super critical parts. Also, the typical turbo engine under high boost runs rich to cool the mixture and avoid detonation . . . a condition not captured in the EPA test loop, but attainable in the real world, especially as gross vehicle weight goes up.

        However, if you're a driver who's been exposed to nothing but automatic transmissions, you probably don't notice a little turbo lag. So, given sufficient effort on balance shafts, trick engine mounts and dynamat on the firewall, perhaps it doesn't make any difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Infiniti will happily sell you (for the same price) a Q70L with a 5.6L V8.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here, and additionally the 300+ HP has to arrive without noticeable lag.

  • avatar

    Even at the ripe old age of ten, I preferred a flat six to a V8. Today, I have a turbo 4 and my wife has a NA V6 in her 2015 Edge.

  • avatar

    “This is How They’ll Take Your V8 from You.”

  • avatar

    What? I normally hold my tongue but this piece feels a tad condescending. My thought is I know Mr. Cain *can* write as evidenced by his body of work, but perhaps either alter the tone or lay off of some of the op-eds. My .02.

  • avatar

    What about the smoothness? 4 cylinder engines are inherently unbalanced and not smooth. When I was in the UK one time I rented an E250 CDI. Yes, it was diesel, not gas, but it was a 2.1 4 cylinder and frankly the NVH levels were agricultural. Massive turbo lag too, I could put my foot down and absolutely nothing happened for about 3 seconds, and then it snapped your neck back and went. Worst possible performance for trying to enter a roundabout.

    Modern diesels don’t need to be like that, I have also rented the Jaguar XF V6D and the XE with a 2.0D 4 cylinder and they were much smoother. The 4 cylinder XE was not as smooth as the V6, but a lot better than the E Class.

    In a luxury car I want a 6 cylinder or V8 for the smoothness. Make it small if you have to for economy, Jaguar/Daimler made a 2.5 V8 back in the 60’s, but keep the multi cylinders for refinement.

    • 0 avatar

      This, smoothness is key. My fiance’s 2.5L 4cyl Camry is probably every bit as quick as my 20 year old ES300 with a 190hp-ish 3.0L v6, but mine feels much more refined, a smooth thrash-free thrum with minimal vibration at idle or anywhere else. Both TSI VWs that I recently drove felt great, except for initial throttle application, there was always an annoying bit of lag. The Jetta also had a really weird uneven idle when first started(?).

      When a Turbo-4 can match Toyota’s corporate 3.5L V6 in smoothness, refinement, and response then we’ll talk.

      • 0 avatar

        When did you step into an ES300?

        • 0 avatar

          You miss all the used car purchase news around here lately, 28. Increase your TTAC patronage!

        • 0 avatar

          28 days, a few months ago, literally a day after I sold my ill-fated beater Maxima experiment (bought for $1600, sold for $2350 breaking even on parts but not my time).

          1996, 2 owner car, with the guy I bought it from owning it since ’98. Very well cared for but higher miles (204k and climbing). Bought for $1600, same as the Maxima. Has only needed brakes all around ($150 rockauto kit plus my time), $30 in OEM swaybar bushings, and a $175 Aisin T-belt/tensioner/waterpump kit that my brother is installing for me. Also am diagnosing an ABS light which I suspect is a damaged front wheel speed sensor wire, and I need to swap in a fan blower resistor that I got at the junkyard (I only have low and high HVAC speeds). Oh also some of my HVAC vents are broken/floppy, got a replacement on ebay for $40. I just scooped up some Camry steelies at the junkyard ($56) and mounted up some Wally world-special Firestone Winterforce snow tires ($60 a pop plus $68 to mount/balance). I’m also going to wire in an aux-in and hopefully add a bit of umph to the sound system while retaining the classy OEM headunit. So a very nice and comfy commuter that will excel at winter duty with its meaty snow tires (went up in sidewall height a tad to 70 series) and heated seats. All for the price of sales tax on some of the other newer options I was looking at.

          All around a massively better car than the Maxima was, although not quite as fun to whip around town. The ES makes you want to waft along.

          • 0 avatar

            Man, I wish I had a brother with the skills, space, and tools to do something like a T-belt/water pump service. (Or myself…)

            I paid a garage a little under $1000 in parts and labor to do the same thing for my Legend last year, and that was after a discount on the labor because I had them do a bunch of other stuff at the same time.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah it’s a hell of a drive (close to 8 hours) but it’s easy to justify just to get to hang out with him, and they need some help splitting firewood for the winter anyhow. The quality of work is unmatched. He actually lent me one of his older scan tools (an older Snap On unit) to diagnose the ABS myself so we can have the part ready to install when I visit. I have a friend here in Indiana with a roomy garage and nice air tools, so that’s where I’ve been trying to do most suspension/brake work.

      • 0 avatar

        “Both TSI VWs that I recently drove felt great, except for initial throttle application, there was always an annoying bit of lag.”

        Pretty sure this is the electronic throttle programming for EPA ratings. I had a 2.5L I5 Jetta that was the same way unless you put the shifter into manual mode or “S” rather than D, then the throttle response was much sharper, more linear, etc.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s how my wife’s 2014 Jetta is. Any time I drive it, I’m in sport mode. Much better response that way compared to D.

          If it was my daily driver I’d tune it, but she wouldn’t get anything out of it since she drives like a grandma.

      • 0 avatar

        I was really, really underwhelmed with the 3.5 V6 (2GR?) at idle. Definitely a step down from the 3mz in terms of NVH at idle. My mom’s ’05 Highlander is dead still at idle, but the ES350 loner I got (800 miles on the odometer) wasn’t, nor was it silky smooth at idle in the GS350 I test drove.

        Does the ’96 ES300 have the 1MZ or the predecessor? I’ve never driven a 1MZ and it’s been a long while since I’ve ridden in a car with one, but I remember it as being smooth at idle. Surely you would agree it’s smoother than the 2GR at idle?

        That said, the 3.5 revs out very, very well and I’d chose the engine if I had the choice over my 3UZ (4.3 liter v8).

        IMO, the Honda 1.5 turbo gives the 2GR a run for its money in smoothness. But if everyone could make a 4 like Honda, 4 wouldn’t be a 4 letter word to enthusiasts.

        • 0 avatar

          My folks have a 2gr in their ’09 RX350, I’ve found it to be exceptionally smooth at idle and when prodded. My much older 1MZ feels just as smooth, surprisingly so. My 5vzFE 4Runner has a bit of a shake to it at idle sometimes, I suspect a slightly clogged IAC valve. My only complaint with the ES is that I can feel that the motor mounts might be a bit tired when I shift from Park to Reverse, there’s a bit of a clunk, but I’ll live with it.

          • 0 avatar

            After 204k it would be shocking if any mounts were still in good shape.

            The one thing I think the Legend needs the most is a transmission mount. I get a nice clunk on shifting from R to D and there’s generally too much head-nodding on 1-2 shifts and vibration.

      • 0 avatar

        The Verano 2.0T is turbine smooth and rated in 2012 quieter than a Lexus LS by Edmund’s.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m currently driving a Volvo XC60 rental and everything is so refined except for the engine. I have not looked under the hood but would bet that it’s a 4-cylinder.

    • 0 avatar

      These things need to be smooth. We had a 2000 Lexus LS, I know they broke the mold with it. But it moved, got good mileage on the highway, and you couldn’t tell if the engine was even running.

      Now for my conspiracy theory. The auto market is competitive and auto makers need to keep quality high to attract buyers. With high quality people may keep cars longer. These smaller turbo engines aren’t going to be factory-new at 100k like a V8 may be. With the added complexity, are they still cheaper to produce than a larger engine? Or with better tech and transmissions do large engines just push you in to AMG, M, F-sport, V territory? I just find it odd that everyone is going to 2.0T when aside from reduced weight, they don’t offer a lot more than what they replace.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Living with the paint shaker up front in a Mini Cooper is one thing since it is a Mini, but in a luxury car it better be buttery smooth. I can’t speak for the Merc so it may be smooth if it has counter balance shafts and active motor mounts.

      That said, I would easily put up with a 4 pot if it were a E30 M3.

  • avatar

    Will this engine go 300,000 miles like the M104? No.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Even if all you say is true, there is the well-documented issue of poor real-world fuel economy from small turbocharged engines pulling heavy loads.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s documented evidence of poor real-world fuel economy from any engine pulling a heavy load. Power is never free.

      The potential gains from a small blown four is that when it isn’t taxed, it uses fuel like a small unblown four. I learned this trick in my Saab: keep the boost gauge’s needle to the left and it was parsimonious; put it into the red and it drank like an equivalent V6.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Who uses an E-Class for heavy towing? I’m sure the number isn’t 0, but it’s probably close, at least in the US.

  • avatar

    In this case, I’m confident M-B knows both it’s market and it’s product better than the anonymous commenters of TTAC.

    IOW, they’re not building these cars for you.

    • 0 avatar

      Er, um, yes – but this is a company that, within recent memory, thought expensive cars with biodegradable wiring harnesses were the peak of perfection.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed they do. They know these cars will be leased, and recycled after 3 years, and no need to worry about making the little blown four go the distance.

      Too bad they decided to tarnish the old glorious E300 badge that the real Benz cars wore proudly over their high 6- and low 7-digit odometer reading lifespans.

  • avatar

    This trend has been seen in Audi’s lineup for longer than BMW or MB. My most recent 3 cars (spanning the last 10 years) have been Audi 2.0T, and regardless whether one feels whether a bigger engine is needed or not, I have no issue with the throttle response.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    I worry about longevity of those smaller engines being tasked to power increasingly heavier vehicles. Yes, metallurgy is improving every day; however, increased pressures from forced induction creates increased strain on internal components, as well as having these engines rev higher (and longer) in order to produce “satisfactory” acceleration.

    But then again, how else can these manufacturers meet increasingly stringent emissions and mileage requirements?

    • 0 avatar

      Trucks have been turbocharged for decades with no reliability or longevity concerns – semis go in for rebuilds somewhere north of a million miles. As long as you engineer and build for the cylinder pressures, you’re fine as far as that goes.

      Just one data point: the 1990-2005 Miata, whose engine originates from the Protege/323 of the era, is turbocharged somewhat commonly with aftermarket kits. Factory power: <125 whp. Once turbocharged, the rods start to bend at around 250 whp, double the factory power, on an engine which wasn't intended to be turboed. Put in a set of aftermarket rods costing a couple of hundred dollars and you're good to north of 300whp. That's nineties tech which wasn't planned to have a snail blow into it, and there are guys running these engines on the racetrack like this, and also on the streets for tens of thousands of miles. Making an engine tough enough to stand up to forced induction is well within the abilities of OEMs.

      Take a look at the power curves of everyday turbocharged cars versus naturally aspirated ones. Even the low displacement turbos have their power peaks well beneath most naturally aspirated engines. The VW Golf's 1.8 turbo makes its peak horsepower at 4,500 RPM. Peak torque happens just barely off-idle at 1,600 RPM. Not even 60s V-8s were peaking that low. One thing that turbocharged engines don't need to do is rev to make power.

      • 0 avatar
        Quick Double Nickel

        All of these discussions regards the torque of these different engines are all referring to their peak torque events, which doesn’t really tell the best story because that occurs when the engine is at full open throttle. That occurs maybe 5% of the time for most of us?

        What I want to know is how each of these motors compare when producing torque at small throttle openings just off idle up to 3000 rpm, since that’s where most ICE spend their operating time in today’s vehicles. My guess is that because just about every manufacturer has replaced their long standing V6 with a turbo 4 that the torque delivery is superior in the turbo 4 in the aforementioned scenario. The real question is if a big NA V8 (LS3, LT1, Merc 6.3) can still provide more torque than the small turbo four in small throttle opening, off-idle scenarios. If the turbo four can, than I can see why manufacturers are replacing the big NA V8s as well.

  • avatar

    I only care because of the sound. That’s it. Turbo four sounds range from “okay” (VW/Audi 2.0T) to frighteningly inappropriate for a luxury car (BMW) to forgettably econobox-like (Ford) to more or less inaudible (Volvo). I haven’t driven a single one so far where I actively like the sound.

    Meanwhile I like the sound of most sixes and eights. The worst-sounding V6 out there today is the VQ, and it sounds better than all of the turbo fours but VW’s.

    The turbo four sound is probably a big part of why I keep buying large V8 sedans instead of the GTI or Golf R that left-brain reasoning tells me I really need.

    I also kind of prefer the typical NA DOHC power curve, but that’s not why I care. It’s the sound.

    Of course, none of this matters anymore once you go electric.

    • 0 avatar

      Same thing for me. Honestly, I could care less about sharp steering or great handling. Give me a smooth transmission and an engine that sounds so good I want to rev out just to listen to, and I’m happy. I may not like the sound of most V8’s too particularly, but I love most six cylinders; being too poor to own either, I’ll take the innocuous-but-kinda-throaty-at-mid-rev flat-4 in my Subaru. Somehow, just about every other type of engine configuration sounds better than an inline-4.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a shame they don’t make the engines sound like group b rally cars. A lot of noise and then a waste gate / BOV that sounds like a squirrel going through a wood chipper.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here. I also thought of FCA’s 1.4T as an example of a boosted 4 that can sound good. Focus rs is pretty cool too, as far as I can tell from YouTube anyway. That’s all I can think of.

  • avatar

    I have always cared about how many cylinders were under the hood. My confession is that I’ve only once (40 years ago) owned a V8 vehicle. Depending on the vehicle, the standard engine, or just once selection above that, has always proved more than satisfactory.

  • avatar

    “Get used to it.”

    Never. I’ll never, ever, ever buy a 4-cylinder car. I don’t care if fuel cost $10/gal. I’ll buy an EV first. I’ll start using a bicycle first.

    Why the comparison to a 2007 E350 instead of a 2015 or 2016?

    Those made 305hp / 273lb-ft of torque, was 0-60 in under 6 seconds, 0-100 2.5+ seconds faster than the new E300 and had a whopping 1 mpg fuel economy penalty.

    • 0 avatar

      because it would punch a major hole in his argument.
      Its been proven time and again that small turbos in big cars don’t yield close to what is expected with regard to fuel economy. Ford’s Eco-Boosts are a very good example.
      My R55 MCS is a turbo 4 and I love it. Fuel economy is very good, acceleration is great IMO, and its not agricultural sounding. Its also not hauling around 3500+ lbs of metal.
      With stricter fuel economy and emissions standards larger displacement engines will start creeping back in. There are plenty of articles on TTAC and the like that already mention this.

      • 0 avatar

        Wasn’t there an article that said these small displacement turbocharged engines actually emit significantly higher levels of nitrous oxide (or some other greenhouse gas) than the larger engines they are replacing? I thought I read something to that effect.

        • 0 avatar

          I think direct injection gas engines emit high levels of particulates in general, but the EPA hasn’t forced manufacturers to clean them up in that regard like diesel engines, yet. Although it is coming, which is why Audi said they were going to start installing particulate filters on gas engines for 2017.

    • 0 avatar

      What do you have against 4-cylinder cars?

      You’re missing some good stuff. Miatas are delightful.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    @Timothy Cain

    I have 2 cylinders more than you. :P

  • avatar

    First they came for the manual transmissions. And when I spoke up, it was to tell those whiny enthusiasts they’re out of touch and no one wants to be working a clutch in traffic, and new automatics shift quicker and get better fuel economy anyhow.

    Then they came for the passenger cars. And I spoke up to mock those Jalopnik readers, because the greatest generation finds it too hard to lower themselves into cars anymore, and nobody cares about handling.

    Then they came for bigger engines,and damnit, this is a violation of my freedom! I need Hellcat power to sit in traffic,not some pansy four cylinder with turbo lag (even if my 3.6 Impala also doesn’t do anything until the transmission decides it’s time to downshift).

  • avatar

    The idea that more cylinders mean more torque is a fallacy. More displacement gives more torque, so of course, if you keep cylinder size constant, yes, adding more of them will increase torque. However, if you keep displacement constant, you’ll get more torque with fewer cylinders. An engine with a high count of small cylinders will rev better, though, and have potential for more power (not torque).

    Take a look at sport motorcycles, where the machines are literally defined by their engine displacement. Invariably, a 1,000cc twin cylinder bike will make more torque at lower revs than a comparable 4 cylinder. My avatar is one such machine, and at 4,000 RPM it would pull away no problem from an equivalent 4 cylinder bike. By 9,000 RPM, though, the twin cylinder was out of ideas, while the 4 cylinder bike would hamster-wheel to 13,000+ RPM, whereupon it out-powered the 2 cylinder stump-puller.

    • 0 avatar

      “Invariably, a 1,000cc twin cylinder bike will make more torque at lower revs than a comparable 4 cylinder.”

      I hear this all the time, but don’t see it in the data.

      A same-generation TL1000s and GSXR1000 both make about 60 ft*lb at 4k RPM. The 4-cylinder just keeps doing it longer and ultimately makes more power.

      If you were pulling on comparable 4-cylinder liter bikes at 4k RPM it was because of either operator input or gearing.

      • 0 avatar

        Taking a quick look at dyno graphs I realize that you have a point; at least it’s closer than I thought it was. I’ve read by people who know a lot more about engineering than I, though, that the twin’s power pulses lend themselves better to making traction when powering out of curves, however. I don’t know, but something must have given the Ducatis and RC-51s an edge, and we can agree that it wasn’t top end power.

        • 0 avatar

          From 1988 to 2002 rules in superbike bike racing limited 4-cylinder engines to 750cc but permitted twins to displace 1000cc.

          This is the era where the Ducati and Honda twins were dominant against 4-cylinders; as one would expect from a machine with a 30% displacement advantage.

          The same thing happened when Buell went racing a few years ago and needed a comical displacement advantage to be competitive with the 4-cylinder bikes.

  • avatar

    I’ve driven V8s cars that were dogs and 4 cylinder cars that were a blast.

    Cylinder counts are just one variable in a vehicle, and not one that I’m going to use to rule anything out.

  • avatar

    I am likely soon to replace my BMW 545 (4.4 V8) with something more reliable in the near future. Yesterday I test drove a 10 Lincoln MKS Ecoboost as I’d like to get something with reasonable grunt as the replacement. I had very high hopes for a twin turbo V6 attached to an AWD system. Boy were those dashed on the rocks after I put my boot into it. It made interesting sounds and it wasn’t slow, but for the rated 360something HP it didn’t feel like anything near that. It felt like a VQ with more wooshy noises. I left convinced that there was something wrong with this model, maybe the turbos are failing, who knows, but if the future is downsized and turbocharged and it feels like that Lincoln, NO THANKS. I told the sales guy that it felt like there was something wrong, he gave me a look like I was nuts. I really wanted to like it, but wow, was that a dud.

    • 0 avatar

      “I am likely soon to replace my BMW 545 (4.4 V8) with something more reliable in the near future.”

      You’re going to purchase an oil refinery which is on fire?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve driven the same model/model year, and had a similar impression. These cars are too heavy even for all the power that 3.5TT puts out.

      • 0 avatar

        Probably has more to do with the tuning than anything else, because my ’15 F150 with the ‘same’ 3.5TT Ecoboost accelerates almost identically to the 545i or MKS.

        FWIW, I’d love to hear anyone complaining about ‘downsized’ engines drive a 3.5 Ecoboost F150 and tell me it’s underpowered. It’s faster and tows more than virtually any other half-ton on the road.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    70-large for a four cylinder car. I don’t think so.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one that thinks this would be a very different article if the push for 2.0T were made by the Japanese and Koreans instead of the Germans?

  • avatar

    The “end of the V8” panic is so 2006.

  • avatar

    Look, I love the 2.0TFSI in my ’16 GTI, but I really appreciate the smoothness that a good V6 imparts. I’ve driven the 2.0TFSI Q5 and the 2.0TFSI A6 and while both are just fine – drive them back to back with the V6 and you’ll want the V6 every time.

  • avatar

    Cylinder count hasn’t really mattered for ages. Saab made very decent Turbo 4-banger cars in the late 80’s (before they were ruined by ‘you know who’), and v6’s nowadays are more powerful than any muscle car ever was. Not to mention some germans used to make some very good straight 6’s back in the day.
    What has really killed the interest in cylinders , or horsepower, for me, is the Tesla model S. The combined experience of the insane completely unfaced, silent accelleration, with my previous experience of high-revving 90’s Vtec engines has left me completely uninterested in modern ICE powered cars. And it has left me hating/despising automatics even more than I used to. The only thing that will interest me from now on is the characteristics of the drivetrain compared to what car it sits in. If it’s a modern car with any comfort/luxury aspiration only an electric drivetrain will do. It could be a hybrid/CVT solution, full electric , or just have an ICE generator, but a mechanical drivetrain is just uneccessary complicated, and just not smooth or efficient enough during acelleration.
    If were talking driver involvment/sportiness, it better be an NA gasoline engine mated to an actual manual transmission. No semi-auto, or DSG solution is gonna be good enough, or involving enough. I need to be able to feel the actual cogs enganging, and to know exactly how use the clutch to make it smooth/quick enough to do whatever I’m doing at any moment. I need to feel the actual throttle respond to every movement of my right foot, at any time, and I need the engine to gain power for every revolution added until it reaches redline, so that I can manually press the cutch pedal, drop the throttle just a tiny bit,throw it into gear, and drop the clutch just as the engine and transmission agree , and then start all over again. Also, I’d like to actually hear the engine…even at idle.

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    I have to disagree. I’ve driven or ridden in a few of the premium 4 cylinders (a Volvo V60, BMW 528i, Cadillac ATS 2.0t) and they cannot match even the mediocre sixes for premium NVH feel.

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    Between variable geometric turbochargers, variable valve timing, and variable compression ratio motors, technology advancements have challenged the old saying. Still, an all-motor 8-cylinder has a different sound and feel, but the new high-end turbo-4s are completely different from their 90s predecessors.

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    I’ve no problem with downsizing and turbocharging to exploit the benefits of improved metallic chemistry and lubricant chemistry.

    In the end, with scaled-up manufacturing I’m convinced that it’s cheaper to produce a turbo-4 than a NA-V8. If it can match or improve on (admittedly theoretical) fuel consumption, then the only thing left is the sacrifice in sound and throttle response.

    And even turbo lag is on its way out by various developing methods of maintaining turbo spin momentum when off-boost.

    But, big or small, there will always be a market for “I want my big NA combustion engine, damn it!”

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    I only ask that the number of cylinders be adequate and that I seldom hear any evidence of their presence. That would of course also encompass an EV.

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    And this is going to get more common in the future.

    If an EV relies on electric motors for that initial torque rush and it uses the gasoline motor as mainly a charging device then why wouldnt the next generation E class run a turbo 1.6 four but a pair of electric motors driving both axles?

    The 1.6 can act as “fill in” at hwy speeds where the characteristics arent so important.

  • avatar

    Every car has enough power and even V8s are packed with weird technology that may or may not work, so I go by sound, feel, and reliability hunches now.

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    The reason why North American car makers fell in love with the V8 in the immediate post war period had more to do with reliability than with power or speed, even though two later qualities were good for marketing. The vast majority of V8 engines produced from the 50s-70s were not ‘high performance’ mills. Those engines produced gobs of torque at very low rpms. They moved the land barges of the time at highway speeds while turning at a rate barely above idle. Engines like that went for years without any major repairs. With today’s much improved materials technology, engines can rev at rates that were unimaginable even twenty years ago, and do so reliably for years.

  • avatar

    I guess I’m a dinosaur, it’s V8s forever for me. Grew up on Chevs and Fords, drove V6 FWD for a long time. Then told the wife, next car has to have a V8. Driving a Lexus with a 1UZ-FE. Love that engine. Got a 2013 GS350 for a loaner and, same HP as my car, but sound and feel just not the same.

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