Cars and Calibres

The more things change, the more they stay the same

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The International Engine of the Year Awards have space for both innovation and enthusiasm.

The 2018 International Engine of the Year Awards were announced in Stuttgart this first week of June, and they continue to give us insight into how the automotive world is thinking and moving. Happily, they are still thinking fun.

The overall International Engine of the Year Award went to Ferrari for the third year in a row for the 3902cc turbocharged V8 that joyfully powers the new 488 Pista.

This is only the second time in the two decades of awards that an engine has won three times in succession.

Lest you think the awards have always been sports-skewed, please note that the previous triple winner was the little Ford one-liter Eco Boost.

Other previous winners include AMGs and the Toyota Prius Hybrid powerplant, so the field is always diverse.

The 3.9-liter V8 turbo from Ferrari also won the Performance Engine of the year and the class for 3-liter to 4-liter engines.

Interestingly, while the previous triple-winner Ford kept the engine relatively the same throughout its reign, Ferrari has been making serious changes to the engine as it went along.

The new configuration as used in the 488 Pista has a wider and more useable power band, for example.

Ferrari also took honors with its 6.5-liter V12 as used in the 812 Superfast. It won the New Engine Award as well as the Above 4-Liter Class Award.

Next come the fun-loving Germans. Porsche took the 2.5-to 3-Liter Award with their 3-liter six cylinder turbo as used in their 911 Carrera and GTS, and the like.

It also took the 1.8- to 2-liter class award for the 2-later turbo used in the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman.

They were split by Audi, which took the 2- to 2.5-liter Class Award with their 2.5-later 5 cylinder turbo from the RS3, TT RS, and RS Q3.

The next size down is the 1.4-to 1.8-later class, and here there are configuration changes yet still a focus on driving enjoyment.

The win went to the BMW 1.5-liter 3-cylinder electric-gasoline hybrid that moves the sports-luxury touring i8. This size is also the point at which things move to three-cylinder motors.

The 1- to 1.4-later class Award went to the PSA Peugeot Citroen 1.2-liter turbo, which is used on a wide variety of vehicles including Peugeot 208, 308, 3008, Citroen’s C3, C4 and Grand Picasso, and even the Opel Crossland X and Grandland X.

The sub-1 award was also a triple: the Volkswagen 999-cc turbo that goes into Audis, VWs, Seats and Skodas.

Interesting to note that Audi uses this too for their A1, A3 and Q2, so clearly this is meant for the more discerning drivers.

Other awards include the Green Engine and Electric Powertrain classes, both of which were won by the all-electric Tesla from the Model S, Model X, and Model 3.

What does all this tell us? The trends continue. Big engines are getting more efficient (as they need to) but also more flexible and driver-friendly.

Porsche has put its own stamp of fun further down the size ladder where before it was BMW and MB country.

The Audi 5 cylinder is still much loved and holds its place as ever. Three-cylinders seem to have become de rigueur for anything below two liters.

Not everyone believes in this though, and we are already seeing the contenders for next year’s honors and market share.

The innovative engineers at Mazda (remember the rotary) are looking to make noise with engines that combine the best traits of diesel and petrol operation in the near future, and their answer to triples is cylinder deactivation.

Happily, Mazda also focuses on driver enjoyment as much as the others, so we look forward to even more change in the coming years.



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