Another year is behind us, and that means that there is a whole new year of new powertrains and engines to look forward to. As auto technology progresses, so do propulsion systems, as they become more powerful and efficient with every new annual calendar. Last year brought a slew of new tech and engineering quirks from the world’s auto makers, and with 2015 right around the corner, a lot of those that were implemented last year have only become more refined and user-friendly.
While most people may not give much thought to engines and motors beyond what options they have in a particular vehicle, there are those out there who put a considerable amount of time and energy into testing and investigating all of the options on the market. One of those organizations, WardsAuto, even evaluated as many as 37 engines to come up with a list of 10 winners for its list of 2015’s best. These are all new or improved powertrains, and the winner’s list encompasses a wide variety of different configurations and systems.
“We spend a lot of time reading the powertrain tea leaves throughout the auto industry, and we’re proud that this year’s list is a microcosm of all the latest innovation coming from automakers,” said WardsAuto World Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter. “It’s not just a list for enthusiasts or for environmentalists,” he added. “There’s something for every vehicle shopper and every budget. All the powertrains on this list deliver a first-rate driving experience.”
Which engines made the cut? Read on to find out.
1. 127-kW Electric Motor from thei3
To kick things off, BMW was honored for their truly innovative approach to electric propulsion displayed in the new i3. Utilizing the 127-kW electric motor housed under the futuristic-looking hood, the i3 is able to generate 170 horsepower and 184-pound feet of torque — a perfect amount for cruising around the city, and in an incredibly efficient manner. “Truly setting the i3 apart from other EVs,” writes WardsAuto, “is the optional [0.7 liter] gasoline-fueled generator that roughly doubles range to 150 miles (241 km) and mitigates the fear of being stranded when the electricity runs out.”
2. The 6.2 Liter V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The new Chevy Corvette Stingray has proven to be an absolute monster now that it’s on the market, and a big reason is the 6.2-liter V8 it will use to blast to top speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. The new V8 will deliver drivers an astound 460 horsepower in the base model, allowing for a true supercar experience for a relatively low price. “Re-engineered from head to torque converter, and the LT1 is the crown jewel of this massive engine family,” WardsAuto says.
3. 6.2 liter Supercharged V8 from the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
A short distance away from GM headquarters, Dodge has also been hard at work on its own variation of the 6.2-liter V8. In the case of the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat – the world’s fastest and most powerful muscle car — that V8 comes supercharged. What does this monster of a motor offer? More than 700 horsepower and complimentary torque that threatens to break the car if unleashed irresponsibly.
4. Ford’s 1.0 Liter Turbocharged Three-Cylinder From theFiesta
Moving on from a 700-horsepower monstrosity to a much smaller, economical alternative, the 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cyldiner motor that Ford is using in the new Fiesta is also being honored. “This mighty mite produces 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet (169 Nm) of torque, providing brisk acceleration and plenty of power at highway speed,” Wards writes. “Fuel-efficient, lightweight and fun to drive with a 5-speed manual gearbox, the [1.0 liter] EcoBoost is proof that good things truly do come in small packages.”
5. The 100-kW Fuel Cell fromTucson FCV
Alas, an engine from a fuel-cell vehicle! Venturing outside of the box, Wards is bringing attention to the 100-kW motor housed within the Hyundai Tucson FCV. “Hyundai engineers have done a stunning job packaging a fuel-cell stack under the hood to convert hydrogen into electricity to turn the wheels with ease.” This is the first honor Wards has bestowed upon a fuel-cell engine, but it’s likely not going to be the last.
6. The 1.5 Liter Turbocharged Three-Cylinder From the Mini Cooper
Another rather small addition to the list, and this time, it comes in a small package. Mini Cooper has done a great job at perfecting the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder it equips its small, stylish cars with. Mini has done a great job at packing even more efficiency into its small engines — something that Wards has praised the company for previously.
7. Fiat-Chrysler’s 3.0 Liter Turbo-diesel V6 Out of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
In the world of pickup trucks, the recent trend has been to go more economical. We’ve seen it with aluminum Ford F-150s, and now all the big truck manufacturers have put an emphasis on more fuel-efficient engines, including Fiat-Chrysler. Ram is now being honored for the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 that comes equipped in the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, delivering both punishing performance and high efficiency.
8. 2.0 Liter Turbocharged Flat-Four From Subaru’s WRX
Japanese auto manufacturers seem to have really nailed down things on the engineering end, and Subaru’s 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four cylinder engine, used in the company’s popular WRX, is a prime example. “The WRX engine pairs up perfectly with a 6-speed manual that makes rowing through gears a thrill. This fleet-footed boxer steps into the ring with fire in its eyes,” Wards writes.
9. Volkswagen’s 1.8 Liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder from the Golf
The new Volkswagen Golf has been bringing in the accolades for a variety of reasons, and its powertrain is one of them. The 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is a great example of how VW continues to make cars that are sharp in terms of performance, but also economical and practical in every sense. This is the second year that the Golf’s engine has made Wards’ list, and it appears that it was an easy decision. “Keeping this engine on the list was a no-brainer,” Wards says.
10. The 2.0 Liter Turbocharged Four Cylinder From Volvo’s S60
The final winner is the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor that comes in Volvo’s S60 sedan. “This silky Swedish gem does everything well: It has a broad powerband, is smooth enough for a luxury application and can deliver 32 miles per gallon,” Wards says. The S60 and its award-winning engine have done enough to convince Wards of its worthiness, and being the European luxury sedan that it is, it shouldn’t take much to sway consumers either.