Things are brewing over at GM Europe as the automaker unveiled a new turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine in its 2014 Opel Adam premium subcompact car. Thing is, that black magic could translate to the U.S. very quickly.
Rated at 115 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque, it’s down a little bit versus the upcoming EcoBoost 1.0-liter three-cylinder in the 2014 Ford Fiesta (123 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque), but it may not need it as much in a U.S. application. For some time, there have been rumors floating around that the next-generation Chevrolet Volt, expected to arrive as a 2016 model, would receive a turbocharged three-cylinder engine in place of its 1.4-liter four-cylinder. The new three-banger heartily out-performs the older engine while producing fewer emissions, better fuel economy, and more power. Also, the engine in the Volt rarely serves as nothing more than an generator to feed energy into its battery pack.
Opel says the 2014 Adam 1.0-liter will come standard with an all-new six-speed manual transmission that is rated to handle 162 pound-feet of torque, or about all you’ll ever need in something the size of a Chevrolet Cruze. We could see GM consolidate platforms and parts across an international playing field to save on cash and bring more appealing cars to the U.S.
The Opel Adam has already garnered plenty of praise, and there’s talk of bringing this sub-Chevrolet Sonic-sized subcompact to the U.S. to compete against the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, and other tiny cars under the Buick banner. Chevrolet has found out recently that its own Spark is selling well above expectations in the U.S.; same with the subcompact Buick Encore crossover. There is a market for subcompact cars if they’re decent.
Last week, GM pulled Opel out of Australia, instead focusing primarily on its Holden lineup of cars and trucks. Opel has struggled to regain its place among premium mainstream brands like Volkswagen.
That said, the small car would make sense in the States, and its engine would make sense in the Chevrolet Volt, which GM CEO Dan Akerson said would be about 20-percent more efficient and cheaper than the now-$34,995 plug-in electric car. It’s now just a matter of time to see when it all becomes reality.