Engine capacity used to be one of the most defining parameters for engine performance. But we are seeing less and less “big” engines being put into production. Traditionally, size definitely counted in your everyday road-vehicles; a bigger engine was better because it was faster and stronger. It meant it was more expensive to purchase and run and more impressive to own. Why, then, are smaller engines becoming the norm and more attractive to own?
Across the board, and for a myriad of reasons, manufactures are ‘engine downsizing’, engineering smaller-capacity engines that use forced induction and direct injection to boost overall engine efficiency.
Engine capacity and the number of cylinders are becoming less determining characteristics as engine power and torque are now more a function of forced induction. The amount of torque that an internal-combustion engine can produce is mostly influenced by the amount of air that can flow through it.
In naturally aspirated engines, capacity plays the biggest role in the amount of torque the engine can produce. Advancements in forced induction technology, in the form of turbo- and supercharging, in today’s production engines allow air to be forced into the combustion chambers at higher pressure than atmospheric, allowing more fuel to be burned. Smaller-capacity engines, such as the Ford 1,0 Ecoboost engine delivering 92 kW and up to 200 N.m, can now easily produce more torque and power than naturally aspirated engines with larger capacity .
While many car enthusiasts will miss the purr of six- or eight-cylinder engines, the unforgiving truth is that internal-combustion engines had to embrace progress or face the scorn of an all-electric future.