Blog: RALPH MORTON
Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost engine wins International Engine of the Year award.
Dr Thomas Zenner beams with the inner satisfaction of someone who knows he’s done a good job. More than a good job.
Thomas smiles with the knowledge that he’s absolutely nailed it.
For Thomas, an unassuming, genial engineer with a generous smile but little in the way of hair, is the supervisor of three cylinder engine development at Ford. And the new engine which he has developed – the three-cylinder 1.0T EcoBoost – is simply cracking.
It’s a fact that has just been recognised with the International Engine of the Year Award.
Five years in development, and at a cost of some €200m, the engine is now sitting in the Ford Focus range. There’s a choice of two power trims: 100PS, five-speed manual with 109 g/km CO2 and 58.9mpg fuel economy; and 125PS with six speed manual, 114g/km CO2 and 56.5mpg.
“This is the most significant engine for Ford in the last 10 years,” explains Thomas to me. “One litre is also the most efficient size, so it won’t get smaller or bigger in terms of capacity, but we can tune it, by taking off the turbocharger for instance.”
Given the investment, it would need to be more than a one-hit wonder.
Thomas doesn’t say it, but that means the engine would sit well in both the Fiesta and Ka in a less tuned state, although it will find its first berth outside the Focus in the all-new B-Max and C-Max MPV.
“I see an application for this engine with petrol-electric hybrids as well as for range-extenders,” confirms Thomas. Given its light weight, 40kg less than the current 109g/km 1.6 TDCI diesel, and compact packaging (its footprint is no more than an A4 sheet of paper) you begin to understand how this new EcoBoost engine will underpin future Ford product strategy.
There’s more to why this is such a significant engine.
Thomas, and clearly Ford, sees the future of mainstream diesel engines as limited – heresy to business car managers and company drivers who have tuned into the benefits of diesel both in terms of company car tax and improved running costs.
But here’s why, according to Thomas. “The next stage of Euro emissions standards, Euro 6, will require diesel engines to be more complex and expensive to build.
“Our turbocharged petrol EcoBoost engine offers the low end torque of a diesel, with the high end power of a petrol engine, so we can deliver diesel-style fuel economy without compromising performance or refinement.”
After driving the 125PS model at the engine’s launch earlier this year, it’s hard to argue against that assessment. In fact we didn’t. We decided it was so good, we name the Focus EcoBoost our Company Car of the Year – booting off the diesel version which had initially topped our thinking.
EcoBoost is a delight: refined, responsive, and economical. When you start the engine, it’s so quiet that it’s difficult to know it’s even running. When you accelerate hard, it has an urgent off-beat warble that will encourage you to keep doing more of the same.
I was intrigued, though, to know what Thomas thinks is the most successful expression of the three-cylinder EcoBoost engine: 100PS or 125PS?
There comes that warm beam again: “My favourite is the 125PS version because of its combination of torque and power plus in real life usage you also get very good fuel economy.”
Ford’s most significant engine in 10 years? With a €200m investment, it’s an engine tasked with a big job in spite of its diminutive size. But it’s clearly up to the task.