Do teeny petrol turbos fire you up?

Are little petrol engines going to be big business as drivers dump diesel, asks motoring editor Andy Russell.

Peugeot’s three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines are winning fans, resulting in an extra production line.

One question I am frequently asked by people is petrol or diesel. I reply with a question too – how many miles do you do a year?

Diesel engines now feature diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to trap soot particles in the exhaust gas, so reducing emissions. To maintain their performance, this soot has to be burned off, called ‘regeneration’, at high temperature to leave an ash residue. It happens automatically at speed on longer journeys but, if you do mainly short trips, the engine management computer (ECU) will initiate post combustion fuel injection to increase the exhaust temperature and trigger regeneration but it may not be completed if the journey is too short, leaving the filter partially blocked.

So, if you don’t do a lot of miles or regular long journeys, I would steer clear of diesel. Low-emission diesels still have their place for higher-mileage drivers even though they are being ‘demonised’ in some quarters for being ‘dirty’ – a perception challenged by major car-makers and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders with a campaign including a diesel facts myth-busting guide.

Lower-mileage drivers are catching on to the new generation of small-capacity, three-cylinder petrol engines.

Peugeot has revealed that demand for its 1.0 and 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder petrol engines is up 252% on its 308 models, which get 1.2-litre turbo versions, and expanding these engines into other models has resulted in an extra production line.

Diesel is still dominant in the 308 but PureTech now powers one in three retail sale models as private buyers see the benefits of these small-capacity, low-emission, high-economy engines.

It’s a similar story for Ford which has produced its five-millionth fuel-saving EcoBoost turbo petrol engine since launch in 2009.

EcoBoost vehicles, which come in various capacities, last year accounted for one in four new Fords sold in Europe but the star has been the smallest unit. The three-cylinder 1.0-litre, with outputs of 100, 125 and 140PS, is the first engine to win International Engine of the Year three times in a row.

More than 230,000 Fords sold in Europe were equipped with the three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that is now available in 10 different models – from Fiesta to the all-new Mondeo.

Have you switched from diesel to the new breed of tiny turbo petrol engines and do the figures add up? Email


Twitter @andyrussellauto

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