Opinion by John Swift
LEFT to me there would be no point in anyone other than Ford turning up to the International Engine of the Year bash.
Save the cost of a ticket to the event at Stuttgart and give Ford the gong now because I will be horrified if anything other than its 1.0 litre EcoBoost takes the top prize.
I tested it a few weeks ago and wrote about it in these pages and said that in more than 20 years of doing this job it is the most surprising engine I've ever driven.
It simply does things that defy belief, an engine of just 1.0 litre capacity propelling a car as relatively big and heavy as the Focus with contemptuous ease. When it is slotted into the Fiesta the results will be astonishing.
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More than that, it poses a serious question of diesel engines which cost more to fill at the pumps because the EcoBoost is so good, so capable and so efficient that it challenges conventional thinking. It is also a further demonstration that the process of down-sizing – of squeezing more bang from a drop of fuel, which has been going on for several years now still has a long way to go.
We all marvelled a few years ago when Volkswagen unveiled its 1.4 TSI which is both supercharged and turbocharged. It was – and remains – a sensational engine but a lot of company car snobs turned up their nose at having 'only' 1400 cc.
A year or so later Fiat blew everyone away with the TwinAir, a little 875cc turbocharged gem.
Dropped into the Panda and 500 models, this engine which is smaller than some motorbikes' performs impossibly well and puts a grin on your face in the process. And now we have the little three cylinder marvel from Ford.
Where will this end? Can the engineers go even smaller? Probably. But inevitably, at some point, the law of diminishing returns will start and it will become ever more difficult and expensive to produce ever smaller gains.
At which time manufacturers will start doing what they should really be pushing now and that is getting radical with materials, aerodynamics and asking fundamental questions about design.
The emphasis on engine efficiency is to be applauded and we should admire what companies such as Ford are doing. But, if you'll forgive the pun, the industry is not quite firing on all cylinders at the moment.
That said, I hope the EcoBoost gets the recognition it deserves.