Ford’s Three-Cylinder Engine Is No Pushover

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Forget about your high school buddy’s three-cylinder Geo Metro that you and two friends tipped over on its side as a practical joke. We just drove Ford’s turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine at the automaker’s proving grounds, in Dearborn, Mich., and it demonstrated that a three-cylinder engine shouldn’t be dreaded. To the contrary, Ford’s 1.0-liter is actually worthy of excitement. 

Although the 123-hp version I drove wasn’t a barn burner, the level of refinement and smoothness Ford achieved is shocking, considering its uneven cylinder count puts it at an inherent balance disadvantage. The EcoBoost 1.0-liter is modestly powered in the manual-transmission European-spec Ford Focus I drove; a 98-hp version is also available overseas.

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There’s a sweet spot around 2,000 to 3,000 rpm where the engine is very responsive and eager to pull the Focus forward. As engine speed increases, the 1.0-liter is quieter and more refined than the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the currently available Focus and other inexpensive compacts with commonly noisy engines. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take the 1.0-liter on city streets and evaluate passing power or accelerate past 50 mph. Based on first impressions, however, consider my mind blown.

With such a tiny engine, fuel economy will likely be impressive, but Ford hasn’t yet completed mileage evaluation using the EPA’s test cycle. We can’t give a direct comparison on mileage considering that European fuel economy practices are different from the EPA’s. However, Ford’s Powertrain Communications Manager Richard Truett says they aren’t taking any steps backward from the current Focus and Fiesta’s 40-mpg rating.

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The 1.0-liter is packed with technologies and unique construction to be as fuel efficient as possible, including turbocharging and direct injection like other EcoBoost engines. An iron engine block is used to warm up the block quicker for greater efficiency compared with aluminum. Exhaust manifolds are integrated into the cylinder head for improved thermal control.

The Ecoboost 1.0-liter will debut in a yet-to-be identified small car next year. You can read more about the 1.0-liter’s technology here

Related
Ford Announces 1-Liter EcoBoost Engine, New Transmissions
Research the Ford Focus
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By Joe Bruzek | July 3, 2012 | Comments (3)

Comments 

Dave

Holy cats, why are people so stupid? Small displacement with turbocharging means better fuel economy? NOT. As someone that is older than 13 we had all sorts of turbo charged cars back in the 80's and 90's and who has forgotten the new turbos, WRX, gtr, evo?

When you drive them fast the mileage stinks just like the V8. When you produce HP it takes gas. Eco boost is not magic, just like the 662hp mustang avoided the fuel penalty tax by making the top gear very long, not magic, just cheating.

I have owned several Turbo cars, the real problem is getting away without spooling the turbo for additional power.

If you want better mileage we need to make cars lighter. It takes just as much gas from any engine to move a 3000 lb vehicle, unless you have magic. When you add all the components for turbo charging you have almost the same weight as you would have in a naturally aspirated larger engine.

George

Sorry Dave, but with modern technology it does. Look at the hard BSFC numbers.

Low tech materials, without direct injection meant the air:fuel ratio stayed very rich, now 'fuel enrichment' is not longer necessary for engine/turbocharger longevity.

Ben

Turbo's are for suckers. I currently drive a Sonata Turbo and the mileage is only remotely possible in near perfect driving. Prior to that I had a RDX and it was the same situation. C&D proved some time ago that you can call something a 'Eco' this or that but the facts are in real world driving a small V8 or even V6 is more efficient, more reliable, cheaper to maintain, and generally more fun. Go ahead and fall for the 'turbo' marketing as many others have.

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