Sure, an engine usually sits two to three feet in front of you in a car, separated from you by a heavy gauge sheet of steel. But never forget that it’s the heart of the car. You can be sitting in the nicest cabin in the world, but if the car is powered by some wheezy, lethargic engine, it can ruin the whole experience.
There are tens, if not hundreds, of people who are part of the team that built the engine in your car, and when they’re not stuck in offices playing with CAD or at some engine dynamometer, waiting for their experimental latest pride and joys to explode just to rebuild them again, they like to get some recognition from time to time.
That’s why the International Engine of the Year Award exists. Each year, a panel of automotive journalists from around the world votes on eight powertrain displacement sizes and four additional categories, including an overall Engine of the Year. Even though it’s not yet sold in the U.S., we’re not surprised by this year’s outright winner, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder from Ford, which is a marvel of engineering. We’ve driven it and loved the little thing in a European version of the 2014 Ford Fiesta that will be coming here in the fall. Not only is the engine counterbalanced from side to side to stop shuddering–usually, it’s vertical balancing–but it also has its timing belt feed into its oil pan so, technically, it will never need to be replaced, never having the ability to fray or crack.
Second place for the overall award was the TwinCharger 1.4-liter engine that’s in many a Volkswagen not sold in the U.S. That engine uses both turbocharging and supercharging to produce its power; we get the turbocharged-only version in our 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, which is also on the list without the electric motor. That’s not to be confused with BMW’s TwinPower 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, which is only turbocharged and comes in at No. 3 on the list. “TwinPower” refers to using turbocharging and an advanced fuel injection system that’s called direct injection, which burns fuel more efficiently. We get that engine in the BMW 320i and 328i, among others.
Other highlights include the Chevrolet Volt’s 1.4-liter Voltec powertrain taking second in the Green category, followed by the Tesla electric propulsion system, Ferrari sweeping two categories with its 730-horsepower, 6.3-liter V-12 that’s new for 2013 in the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and Mazda’s SkyActiv engines all making various lists. Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and British sports car outfit McLaren all made the list, too. But curiously, General Motors only had its Voltec represented.
Follow the link at the bottom to see the list of award recipients for yourself.