Stop looking to the past: the future of the engines is fascinating

a few weeks Ago I had the opportunity to drive the new Porsche 718 Boxster. And I loved it. New boxer, four-cylinder, and turbo, but also technical solutions aim to maintain a strong and sound character, and to offer a response and an elasticity that does not make us miss the old boxer six-cylinder, which I can attest (see test Porsche 718 Boxster). Even so, by my head just happens to an idea. Pity not to have enough money to buy one of the latest Porsche Boxster or Porsche Cayman with the engine bóxer of six cylinders. Now, why can’t we avoid looking to the past and wringing our hands because the past times were better? Do you really were the best? Why do we insist that the future of the engines is exciting?

Maybe we are a few nostalgic. The case of the sports is very different from the cars that we hear about every day on the street. Even so, we continue to mourn for the amount of systems, anti-pollution booms that are equipped with passenger cars modern, especially the diesel. Miss those engines of yesteryear, less tight than the current, that with three cylinders and just 1,000 cm3 could cover the needs of the majority of drivers who every year buy a car.

Concerned about the durability of the mechanical engines that are as tight, with the rise of downsizing. And this concern is not trivial. With a larger number of components, the susceptibility of one of them to fail necessarily increases. But perhaps we forget that modern engines use materials more sophisticated; that before arriving at the dealers undergoing tests comprehensive and very demanding that guarantee that the block will resist for many years, and many kilometres; or that the quality processes in their manufacturing ensure, with a margin of reliability is very high, that motor provides all the possible guarantees to the buyer.


, Although still generating problems, and many, we give thanks to that modern cars have evolved to work with systems, anti-pollution more sophisticated, or that have progressively reduced its capacity and improved its performance turbo using, to reduce their emissions. Our health and that of our planet, depends on it. Perhaps the most negative aspect is that everyone, in some way, we have contributed to the client not receive the information necessary to reason with your purchase, and to understand the peculiarities of the technology equipped with your car. I’m talking about the diesel, how many customers are still buying diesel even if you have compelling reasons to not justify that purchase, and how many of the problems that we are seeing in the modern diesel have to do with the lack of knowledge of the care required by your technology. This is also extensible to gasoline engines with technologies that years ago were a rarity in this type of engines, including the turbo, and your care.

Does not been enough emphasis to explain that the diesel often is not the most appropriate option? Why not promote, even more, the hybrid and electric? And what is LPG?

Maybe that’s why we continue thinking that the modern engines are, in comparison, worse than the old. We have in mind the bad experience of failures, EGR, particulate filters, and the turbo. In any case, if we look to the future, continues to pareciéndonos exciting.


In recent days, we have seen different cases that envision a glimmer of hope for the diesel. Systems anti-pollution modern, such as AdBlue, pose pros and cons that we have to take. But they also guarantee that diesel will remain an alternative for the future, within the panorama of restrictions of emissions that are being drawn in Europe, and in many other markets. The diesel has a future even in the tourism of high performance, although perhaps with many turbos, compressors, electrical and many other technologies.

What’s impressive is not that Audi might launch a diesel 435 HP with electric compressor, or that BMW to launch their fantastic to big with a diesel six-cylinder, four turbos, and 400 CV of power. What’s impressive is that these technologies sooner or later will end up estandarizándose in smaller engines, for all audiences, and for all pockets. The diesel still has a future, but not as we understand it today, nor for the order that the continue to understand, many customers just walk a few thousand miles a year, and in the city.

In gasoline engines, are also taking very important steps to get more power based turbo without the defects of the supercharger, and in order to further strengthen the downsizing. The sophisticated engine boxer four-cylinder Porsche are a good example, the highly unusual solution of using turbos with variable geometry petrol engines (Porsche Boxster S) also.

But even so, this remains the tip of the iceberg.


We are seeing how to extract a lot of power of a block to be extremely small has ceased to be a thing of science fiction. Koenigsegg working on a 1.6 400 HP, Volkswagen in a three-cylinder 272 HP, Volvo a 2.0-liter 450-BHP of power, the future of the downsizing has a look wonderful. And that which we have not spoken of hybridization, and electrification, plug-in vehicles, which in the day-to-day will take you from home to work without consuming a drop of fuel, and even the weekend will be able to offer you satisfaction, and the autonomy, of its heat engine. We see more and more engines that are able to disconnect their cylinders, or to release the transmission llaneando, to reduce the drag-out losses, and consumption in certain situations.

The thermal engines still have a future. Is more, to those who argue with greater conviction to the electric car recognize that internal combustion engines will continue to accompany us for many years. Perhaps for that reason we should look beyond the turbo and hybridization, why not work the thermal efficiency of the combustion engine?

Notice that the Toyota Prius stands as the only tourism that has achieved a thermal efficiency of 40%. What has happened with the remaining 60%? Why we we get so consumed with the turbo when there’s still so much room for improvement?


The big problem remains in that improve the thermal efficiency of an internal combustion engine requires an effort, development, and production techniques are costly, in the long run the solution more handy and viable is to reduce the displacement and increase the importance of the supercharger.

Even from that point of view, yet we look with hope to the future, especially if we take into account the progress that we are already seeing, especially from japanese manufacturers. We can’t speak of Mazda, and how they have chosen to “swim against the current”, by following a very different strategy to that of its rivals, to offer real breakthroughs in its mechanics. Their strategy, as they mention themselves, is the domain of the combustion. So much so that even saved some misgivings to the hybridization, that their gasoline engines are still air, your diesel (and gasoline) still retain displacements atypical today, who have turned to ideas, even transgressive, such as the development of gasoline engines with very high compression, and that is only the beginning.

From Mazda, for example, there is already talk of the next generation of engines SKYACTIV 2 and 3 and of how the future, almost a utopia, that is aspiring to develop an engine adiabatic, without heat transfer, in which the energy efficiency is maximum.

I’m very Much afraid that, in spite of everything, if I had to choose my Porsche favorite would have a boxer engine six-cylinder, non-turbo. I’m very much afraid that they, too, will miss some naturally aspirated engines, in general. And yes, I would because I also am afraid that since I’m a nostalgic. And yes, the future of the engines – still – remains a fascinating one.