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Ford's three-cylinder EcoBoost a small but mighty game-changer
Technology's come a long way in transforming such small powerplants from the noisy, thrashy unbalanced examples of the past to their current level of sophisticated efficiency. Weighing "about 200 lbs" (or 90.7 kg), Ford's 1.0L EcoBoost eschews the typical aluminum block in favour of a tiny cast-iron piece, all in the name of compactness. This also aids in quicker warm-up time, which reduces gas consumption and emissions.
|Photo: Lesley Wimbush|
To counteract the inherent lack of balance in the three-pot mill – rather than increase the weight by using an energy-draining balancing shaft – the 1.0L EcoBoost uses a slightly unbalanced flywheel and pulley. A combined cylinder head/exhaust manifold design lets the engine's cooling system help reduce exhaust gas temperatures, thus eliminating the need to enrich the fuel-to-air ratio under load and lowering fuel consumption. The tiny turbocharged EcoBoost also features twin variable camshaft timing and slick coatings on internal parts to reduce friction.
Recently named 2012 International Engine of the Year, the 1.0L EcoBoost comes in two variations: 123 hp and 98 hp, the latter being available in the European Focus. With the less powerful version boasting 4.8L/100km, the EcoBoost will be a global game-changer in the fuel economy wars. To get an idea of just how impressive those figures are – the tiny Scion iQ's 1.3L 4-cylinder has less horsepower at 94 – it delivers a combined fuel consumption rating of 5.1L/100 km.
Ford has confirmed that the 1.0L EcoBoost will arrive here sometime next year, and although they wouldn't say which particular vehicles the engine will be available in, it's safe to assume that the Focus and probably the Fiesta are likely choices.
We were given the opportunity to try a couple of European-spec, 123-hp models on Ford's Dearborn, Michigan test track. Equipped with six-speed manuals, the power delivery felt fairly reasonable and with 125 lb-ft of torque available, the 3-cylinder Focus felt very much like driving the Fiesta, if only slightly less powerful.
At low speeds, the engine was fairly quiet, and although the size of the track and the duration of the test drive didn't really allow us to make a fair assessment – it didn't seem to exhibit any of the buzziness expected from a three-pot engine. While obviously no track star, the three-cylinder Focus was livelier than expected.
Suffice it to say, while the newest EcoBoost is unlikely to appeal to enthusiasts, the fuel-conscientious will be pleasantly surprised by its performance.