Across the range of Ford’s models, the ECOboost engines are cleaner, greener, more frugal and more efficient than the Duratec or Zetecs that have gone before. As there are more eco-conscious buyers out there now, it’s a shrewd move for the company and its latest ECOboost engine, the tiny three-cylinder 1.0-litre, is set to be seen in more cars.
The new triple-cylinder engine was developed at the Dunton Technical Centre, where the focus (pun intended) was on reducing friction within the engine’s internal parts and being more thermally-efficient. As CO2 levels are at their highest when an engine is cold, and also increase engine wear at this point, the new engine block has a split cooling system which lets the bottom end of the block heat up faster to speed up the time taken to get to optimum operating temperature. Hopefully, the temperature system will be controlled well enough to quash any worries of warped cylinder heads.
The new engine could well replace the generic, base-model 1.6-litre Duratec engine, as it boasts a similar torque output, direct injection and independent variable cam timing, first seen in 1988 in Honda’s VTEC engine. The little, thrummy 1.0-litre engine could well be turbo-charged, too, which would boost power and torque, yet be more efficient and less bulky than the 1.6-litre engine it would replace. Having a lighter engine up front will also reduce the power output needed from the engine to have similar performance to the heavy 1600.
Fuel economy from the ECOboost engine has been improved by offsetting the crankshaft, although no details of exactly how that helps have been released yet. Together with the new efficient engine, the well-known car maker has decided to launch two new transmissions to the UK market, which will be an 8-speed automatic and one designed specifically for hybrid cars. The latter is a good indication of where Ford are heading in the next few years. As Ford developed and produce gearboxes for other manufacturers, notably the long-running agreement with Mazda, the new gearbox for hybrids will see a continuously variable electronic system, which is said to lower emissions as it finds the most frugal gear to use and be seamless in its action.
With a strong leaning towards being more frugal and efficient, we won’t be far off seeing a trend towards lighter cars with the introduction of more exotic materials such as carbon fibre, aluminium and titanium, even in regular cars as the technology is passed down from racing teams, in particular Formula 1. With Ford taking a reversed approach to engine capacity, with a 1.0-litre turbocharged engine, we’ll no doubt soon see other manufacturers following suit. Fiat, for instance, have been churning out 1.4-litre turbo engines for many years (since the Uno, no less) to side-step the high tax bands of large capacity engines.
Ford have announced that the new ECOboost engine will be found in new cars from 2013, although with a new Ford Ka and Kuga on the way, it could make an appearance sooner.