Peugeot and Renault are expected to reveal further details of their next-generation three-cylinder engines at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
With three cylinders now much in vogue, both French automakers will be vying for attention in the small-car stakes.
Peugeot is planning a three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine as well as a super-clean diesel. The French car maker also expects its Hybrid Air technology will be on sale in three years.
Peugeot's new range of three-cylinder engines will appear at Geneva in the new 108. Initially there will be: a normally-aspirated, three-cylinder 1-litre gasoline engine of 68bhp offering 88g/km of CO2; another 68bhp version will offer 97g/km or 95g/km when coupled with an automated manual box. A 1.2-litre unit develops 82bhp with 99g/km of CO2.
A turbocharged version of the 1.2-litre engine will offer 128bhp and 170lbft torque from 1,750rev/min, with 95 per cent of torque available between 1,500 and 3500 rev/min.
Peugeot’s work typifies efforts being made all round to run engines slower and reduce friction.
Meanwhile, Peugeot’s Hybrid Air system cannot be discounted. It uses compressed air to assist or take over from a three-cylinder internal combustion engine. It could appear first in the 2008 in 2016, before appearing later in light commercials from Peugeot and Citroën. Cars with the system can run on compressed air only for a short amount of time.
PSA Peugeot-Citroën suggests a Hybrid Air drivetrain could allow a Citroën C3 or Peugeot 208 to run at 69g/km levels of CO2.
Joining the fray
PSA’s competitor Renault is expected to follow the three-cylinder route already taken by BMW, Ford and Opel/Vauxhall. Ford was first to launch a three-cylinder engine.
The next Twingo will be another joint development with Daimler AG. The German automaker had been evolving its Smart car at the same time as Renault was trying to find the way forward for Twingo.
As a result of early talks, the two firms concluded a strategic cooperation agreement in 2010, giving the official green light for the joint-development of New Twingo and the two- and four-seat Smart.
When the chief executives of Daimler and Renault Nissan – Dr Dieter Zetsche and Carlos Ghosn respectively – held a joint press conference at the Frankfurt Motor show last year to reveal how the early agreement had grown, Ghosn claimed their union "the most multi-cultural environment in the global auto industry".
"There is nothing taboo and no limit to the potential co-operation," boasted Ghosn.
Zetsche admitted: "The agreement had gone much further than originally intended and I am optimistic of even fuller co-operation. Any opportunity to minimise the investment needed on projects is most welcome."
The three pillars of their Franco-German collaboration were joint development of a rear-wheel-drive architecture for a new Smart forfour and Renault Twingo, some shared diesel and petrol engines for the two brands and a Renault-based and -built van for Daimler to market as the Citan.
Citan is already on sale and the new Smart and Twingo will be revealed at Geneva and are set to arrive in showrooms in the second half of 2014.
"All of the joint projects are on track," claimed Zetsche at the time.
In 2008, the Renault engineers and designers associated with the brand began to evolve their ideas from on a blank sheet of paper. For the next-generation Twingo they took inspiration from the innovative legacy of the original Twingo released in 1992, together with that of the Renault 5.
Their aim: to create an even roomier and more agile city car, despite a smaller footprint. This led to a rear-mounted engine in spite of higher development costs.
Positioning the engine at the rear frees up the front end and can improve turning circle.
Combined with the use of a smaller three-cylinder engine block and positioning of the wheels at the car's extreme corners, the rear-mounted engine also frees up some cabin space.
Other cues are inspired by the Renault 5, including the rake of Twingo's rear screen and its prominent shoulders, redolent of the rear-engined Renault 5 Turbo.
The new city car's five-door architecture – a first in the history of the model – increases its versatility. It also carries over some of the keys behind the success of its sibling, New Clio, including concealed rear door handles and scope for personalisation thanks to the range of body colours and customisable exterior trim features like the door mirrors, side protective mouldings and decals. There are four body colours and various customisation options.
It was Ford president and chief executive officer Alan Mulally who set the ball rolling for three-cylinder engines when he launched production of Ford's smallest gasoline engine - the 1-litre turbiocharged, direct injection EcoBoost - developed by Ford's engineers at the Research & Engineering Centre, Dunton. The engine debuted in 2012.
The 1-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine became available in the Ford Focus. When announced, Ford said it would produce 125PS while delivering a combined fuel economy of 56.5 mile/gal and ultra-low petrol CO2 emissions performance of 114g/km – a level unmatched at the time by Focus competitors.
Ford said a 100PS version of the same engine would deliver outright best-in-class petrol CO2 emissions of 109g/km. This engine also featured in the Ford C-MAX and Grand C-MAX, and the then new Ford B-MAX which entered production in mid 2012.
"The new 1-litre EcoBoost and our entire family of EcoBoost engines – represent technology breakthroughs that deliver power, fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions through turbocharging and direct injection,” Mulally claimed. “These engines are delivering the fuel-efficient vehicles customers want and value."
Ford invested £110 million to develop a special high-tech line at the Cologne Engine Plant to build the engine. The company said that the plant’s 870 employees would build up to 350,000 units a year of the new engine.
It was said at the time that Ford’s European production capacity could increase to up to 700,000 units per year as production of the small EcoBoost engine at Cologne would be joined by Ford’s new engine plant in Craiova, Romania, in early 2012.
Ford said it anticipated production to expand outside of Europe to deliver global capacity of up to 1.3 million 1-litre EcoBoost engines per year.
The current Ford Fiesta range (which last year became available in the US) features seven powertrain options which emit less than 100g/km CO2 and includes the 1-litre EcoBoost, announced International Engine of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
Ford now offers a 100PS version of the 1-litre EcoBoost engine with Ford's advanced, six‑speed dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission - the first time Ford has combined the two technologies. This delivers CO2 emissions of 114g/km and 57.7 mile/gal fuel consumption. ∎
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