Here’s an EcoBoost math problem for you to solve: if EB V6 = V8 and EB I4 = V6, what is the EB equivalent of an I4? According to Ford, the correct answer is a small displacement three-cylinder, fitted with all the technology that Ford’s engineers can slap together. By starting with a 1.0 liter three-cylinder and adding a turbo, gasoline direct injection, an offset crankshaft, separate cooling for engine block and cylinder head and variable intake and exhaust cam timing, Ford says they’ve got an engine that performs like a 1.6 liter four, but uses less gas and produces fewer emissions. Whether or not that’s a good thing really depends on where Ford uses the engine, which should see production by year end. Their plan is to use it globally in “small cars”, but they’re not defining what products will see the new EcoBoost engine until September’s Frankfurt Auto Show.
Call me skeptical, but there is such a thing as too small when it comes to engines. One liter is the size of a water bottle, not the size of an automobile engine. The last two motorcycles I owned both had larger displacements, and high compression plus turbo boost can only get you so far. The Chevy Cruze, for example, uses a turbocharged 1.4 liter Ecotec engine, and that’s just barely enough to get the car to speed. I can’t imagine what a car that size with a 1.0 liter engine would feel like, no matter how much boost you throw at it.
I understand that manufacturers are up against some pretty loft fuel economy goals set by Washington, but you can only downsize engines so much before they become dangerous. I’ll reserve judgement on the new 1.0 liter EcoBoost unit until I have a chance to drive a car that uses it. Personally, I just hope that car is half the size of Ford’s Fiesta, and made exclusively of carbon fiber, aluminum and titanium.