A V8 engine has failed to make the Wards Auto annual shortlist of the top 10 engines sold in the US for the first time in the award’s 23-year history.
Instead, the biggest displacement donk to make the shortlist is a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-sourced plug-in hybrid Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 paired to an electric motor – one of only a handful of six-cylinder engines to feature.
It’s not as though the V8 hadn’t tried. Ford had stumped up its 5.2-litre unit used in the Shelby GT350-badged Mustang that won last year, but the field had obviously moved on. However, even though the Mustang’s bent eight lost out to downsized sixes and fours, the turbo 2.3 it shares with the Ford Focus RS did make the grade. It was the “high-strung, high-emotion, track-ready” tune of the smaller car’s engine that took the gong – the slightly detuned Mustang version pales a bit by comparison – that won the judges over.
Mazda’s first SkyActiv-badged turbo engine, the 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit found under the bonnet of the CX-9 large SUV, was one of seven forced-induction engines to make up the list. Judges liked it for its “excellent low and mid-range torque like a big V6”.
The turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine used under the bonnet of the BMW M240i – a Wheels favourite for the silky way it delivers its power and the well of torque from its boosted performance – also made the list. It was joined by the same-sized V6 found under the bonnet of the Infiniti Q50 sedan – an engine only sold in Australia as a twin-turbo unit, although in two states of tune.
Of the 10 engines nominated, three were fitted to hybrid cars not sold in Australia. Another, a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder unit fitted to a fuel-miserly version of the Hyundai Elantra, is also not sold here.
Volvo’s twincharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine – it’s the same as the one used for the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid but with a larger turbocharger and supercharger, as well as other performance-enhancing mechanical tweaks, but minus the electric gubbins – was the only engine to feature a dual forced-induction system.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz was praised for its Jekyll and Hyde nature, performing smoothly and efficiently around town, but upping the wick in Sports mode.
No normally aspirated engines without some form of electric or induction assistance, or diesels for that matter, featured on this year’s list.
The list of award-winning engines is:
3.0L turbo dohc 6-cyl (BMW M240i)
1.5L dohc 4-cyl range-extended hybrid (Chevrolet Volt)
3.6L dohc V6 plug-in hybrid (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid)
2.3L turbo dohc 4-cyl (Ford Focus RS)
2.0L dohc 4-cyl hybrid (Honda Accord Hybrid)
1.4L turbo dohc 4-cyl (Hyundai Elantra Eco)
3.0L turbo dohc V6 (Infiniti Q50)
2.5L turbo dohc 4-cyl (Mazda CX-9)
2.0L turbo dohc 4-cyl (Mercedes-Benz C300)
2.0L turbo/supercharged dohc 4-cyl (Volvo V60 Polestar)