I came to the realisation earlier that I am possibly more fascinated with new, frugal engine technology than I am by big horse power claims and 0-60 times. Can this be true?! Is it just a sign of the times or a sign that I am growing up. Becoming more mature. I like to believe it is the latter, but I have my doubts.
As a kid, like any other, I was obsessed with big, powerful cars that had seemingly astronomical power figures, unachievable high speeds and cared nothing for how much it might cost to run them. But these days it all seems fairly irrelevant. Even big saloon cars are pushing out 500bhp-plus, which just isn’t particularly usable on the clogged up, badly maintained highways and byways of modern Britain.
So these days whenever a new supercar comes out I pay little attention to the power figures and more towards how it puts that power down. How it drives. The McLaren MP4-12C is a case in point, as I personally found the supple ride and everyday usability of a track weapon far more interesting. The regular comparisons to the 458 rarely even introduced serious power comparisons.
So is it that nobody really cares about power anymore? I don’t believe this is so, but the attitudes are certainly changing. To explain my point, I present to you Ford’s 1-litre EcoBoost engine. I’m a little obsessed with this engine, to be honest, and I’m not even a mechanically minded geek.
The engine will feature in the all new Ford Focus in either 123bhp or 98bhp forms. It uses turbocharging and direct injection to produce 56mpg in the former and a class leading 109g/km in CO2 emissions for the latter. Pretty impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree, but I just find it fascinating that a mid-sized car can run with such a tiny engine. In my mind only the preserve of matchbox learner cars, the fact this engine will also be chucked in across the C-MAX range is simply incredible.
But it gets really interesting when you read that, by using twin sequential turbochargers, Ford will be using this engine in future sporting models that produce 177bhp. From a 1-litre engine that is phenomenal. And to think not too long ago the Focus ST170 produced slightly less power for double the engine displacement.
Ford aren’t the only people creating interesting solutions to our need for cheap as chips running costs. My dad’s business lease is running out on his new 2010 A4 TDIe (the little e stands for ‘eco’), and his boss has indicated that he’ll likely get the DS5 hybrid when it is available. Doing a little research for him I found even more examples of simple but brilliant engineering ingenuity.
The DS5 hybrid will feature a similarly turbocharged (though not so impressively tiny) 2-litre HDi engine powering the front wheels. But here’s where things get a bit more interesting. The Hybrid4 model also has an electric motor powering the rear wheels, providing 23bhp. In sport mode these combined provide an impressive 200bhp (though, of course, we don’t care about that…) but the really interesting bit is that pottering around town can be executed solely on electric charge.
Now I know this isn’t exactly ground breaking new technology but it does provide a staggering 70mpg. In a car with 200bhp. Now that is when power remains interestingly relevant. Now here is a gratuitous picture of a Nissan S14 going sideways, just to show I haven’t gone soft.