In powertrain circles, it’s widely accepted that brilliant designs win the outright International Engine of the Year Award, but only truly great developments do it back-to-back. And history certainly seems to support this thinking; until this year, the exclusive ‘doubles’ club consisted of only three car makers and four engines across the Awards’ rich 19-year history. Ireland is represented on the International Engine of the Year jury by our own managing editor, Padraic Deane.
First to do it was BMW M’s V10 monster in 2005/2006. BMW then did the ‘double-double’ when its 3.0 twin-turbo claimed the crown in 2007/2008. Next was Volkswagen with its innovative 1.4 TwinCharger in 2009/2010. And the last to join was Ford with the brilliant 1.0 EcoBoost, which in fact won the outright title three consecutive times, from 2012 to 2014.
And so Ferrari’s all-conquering F154CB heart has joined this elite club of just four other powertrain creations to do the much sought-after IEOTYA ‘double’, having successfully defended its title from last year.
That the race to win the outright International Engine of the Year Award was a close call – Porsche’s 911 3.0 turbo finished just 35 points off the pace – will be irrelevant to Ferrari and Prancing Horse aficionados.
This victory cements the heart-pounding twinturbocharged V8’s place in the history books. And if that’s not impressive enough, in the past two years the 488 pusher has won no fewer than seven awards in total, including the category class victories, back-to-back Performance Engine titles, and the coveted New Engine award last year. If ever there was an engine that has made its mark on these awards and the automotive industry in general, it’s this one! So congratulations to Ferrari, powertrain chief Vittorio Dini, and all the engineers over in Maranello.
“It’s fitting that probably the best turbocharged engine ever developed has secured back-to-back outright International Engine of the Year Award titles,” enthused Dean Slavnich, co-chairman of the International Engine of the Year Awards.
“This blend of heart-thumping performance on both road and track, with a glorious V8 Maranello rumble and an ultra-sophisticated design that’s loaded with advanced technologies, makes the Ferrari V8 unbeatable for another year.”
But unlike in 2016, there’s much more to this year’s International Engine of the Year Awards then just a screaming, charged Ferrari eight cylinder that’s oozing with advanced technologies and innovation.
Representing a first for the International Engine of the Year Awards, an Electric Powertrain category has been created that’s specifically for 100% battery electric vehicles, showcasing the advances in technology for this type of powertrain as it grows in popularity around the world.
The key here is that the winner of this all-new grouping is entered into the second round contest, meaning a BEV could, for the first time, win the outright International Engine of the Year Award – something that wasn’t possible by winning Green Engine, Performance Engine or New Engine titles. But judging by how voting went in round two, there’s still a long way to go before an electric vehicle powertrain wins the outright International Engine of the Year Award.
After the overall International Engine of the Year gong, the next category many car makers want to win is the New Engine, which over the years has been won by BMW (a staggering five times), Volkswagen (twice), Fiat (twice), and then Mazda, Toyota, Porsche, Ford and Mercedes- AMG all once.
Picking up the coveted New Engine title for 2017, then, is Honda’s wonderful 3.5 V6 hybrid powertrain for the new NSX, which wowed judges and successfully fought off strong competition from Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo and BMW.
It’s been a long 11-year absence for the Japanese car maker, which won no fewer than 22 awards between 1999 and 2006, but Honda has finally returned with a bang to the International Engine of the Year Awards. Welcome back!
The prestigious international awards are presented by Engine Technology International magazine. The Awards involve the voluntary participation of 58 top motoring journalists from 31 countries. And very important, the organisers receives no advertising or financial support from any car manufacturer or distributor.
The International Engine of the Year 2017 in detail
To qualify for inclusion in the class categories listed below, an engine must have been housed in a passenger car that was on sale in more than one country as of June 2017.
Sub 1-litre • 1-litre to 1.4-litre • 1.4-litre to 1.8-litre • 1.8-litre to 2-litre • 2-litre to 2.5-litre • 2.5-litre to 3-litre • 3-litre to 4-litre • Above 4-litre
Sub 1-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: Ford 999cc three-cylinder turbo
(Ford Fiesta, B-Max, Focus, C-Max, Grand C-Max, Mondeo, EcoSport)
Making its final appearance in its current guise before it gets replaced with an updated design featuring a host of new technologies, Ford’s stunning 1.0 EcoBoost creation has made IEOTYA history.
The diminutive unit not only conquered the sub 1-litre category for the sixth consecutive year, but it also became the first-ever powertain to secure its class title every year it has been nominated.
1-litre to 1.4-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: PSA Peugeot Citroen 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo
(Peugeot 208, 308, 2008, 3008, 5008, Citroen C3, C3 Picasso, C4, C4 Cactus, C4 Picasso / Grand Picasso, DS3, DS4)
When PSA Peugeot Citroën first toppled Volkswagen’s nine-year reign as the leader in this engine category, back in 2015, it was something of a surprise. When the French OEM retained the award in 2016 by an impressive 54 points over BMW’s turbocharged triple, it was clear that judges were thoroughly impressed by PSA’s versatile 1.2-litre unit.
This year, which sees the turbocharged engine win the category for the third year in succession, further cements the PureTech’s position as a dominant player in this competitive segment.
1.4-litre to 1.8-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: BMW 1.5-litre three-cylinder electric-gasoline hybrid
Joining Toyota’s 1.5-litre Hybrid Synergy Drive as a three-time winner in this category, BMW’s stunning 1.5-litre three-cylinder electric-gasoline hybrid powertrain remains as remarkable a feat of engineering today as it was when it was launched in 2015 in the German OEM’s ‘Project i’ halo product, the i8.
When the numbers are crunched it’s easy to understand why the gorgeously futuristic-looking i8 has developed into the world’s highest-selling plug-in hybrid sports car.
It is a remarkable standout engine that ticks all the boxes.
1.8-litre to 2-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: Porsche 2-litre turbo
(Porsche 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman)
Every year there’s one category group within the International Engine of the Year Awards that’s too close to call, and for this year it was the 1.8-litre to 2.0-litre displacement class.
This category was home to a host of four-cylinder goodness, from the world’s most powerful four-pot, Mercedes-AMG’s M133 pocket rocket, which has taken this title since 2014, through to the likes of Audi’s highly flexible 2.0 TFSI heart, Volvo’s innovative ‘Twin Engine’ that features electrification, supercharger and turbocharger technologies, and BMW’s smooth twin-turbo runner. And all of the above led this group at one stage or another as the votes came in.
But, thanks mainly to a strong middle showing and solid finish, it was Porsche’s 2.0 four-cylinder turbo – loved and hated in equal measures by Boxster/Cayman fans – that eventually won, beating AMG’s three-time champ by a mere six points.
2-litre to 2.5-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: Audi 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo
(Audi RS3, TT RS)
Another year and another victory for Audi with its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo heart. And this latest win takes Ingolstadt’s finest trophy tally in this category class alone to an amazing eight since the turn of the decade.
That the 405ps powerhouse has again cemented itself as the best design in this grouping is a true testament to Audi’s engineering prowess. Since the engine debuted in 2010 it has been known for its unmistakable crackling, popping soundtrack, reminiscent of Quattro’s rally heyday in the 1980s.
Also since its launch, Audi has continued to evolve the 2.5 five-cylinder unit, keeping it refreshed, tuned and ahead of the competition.
For this year, the RS turbo heart fended off competition from some very talented rivals – including stablemate Porsche with its all-new 2.5 four-cylinder turbo.
2.5-litre to 3-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: Porsche 3-litre six-cylinder turbo
(Porsche 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera 4, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera 4S, Carrera GTS)
Last year, Porsche’s turbocharged flat-six won this category on its debut, albeit by a narrow margin.
One year, and a whole host of new rivals later, Porsche’s 3-litre has simply stretched its legs and disappeared into the distance, its points advantage over its closest rivals more than three times greater than it was last year.
Remaining unchanged from the previous year’s specification, the boxer engine still uses the 91.0 x 76.4mm bore and stroke measurements to achieve the 3-litre swept capacity. It also retains the integrated dry-sump system and 10.0:1 compression ratio.
Still offered in two states of tune, 370ps and 420ps, depending on whether customers opt for the Carrera or Carrera S options, the 3-litre engine has found home in four separate 911 models, all of which have won praise from the judges.
3-litre to 4-litre Engine of the Year
and International Engine of the Year 2017
WINNER: Ferrari 3.9-litre biturbo V8
(Ferrari 488 GTB/Spider)
The 2017 International Engine of the Year Awards sees Ferrari top the impressive field of larger capacity, 3-litre to 4-litre engines for the second year in a row, edging out its category rivals from the likes of Mercedes, Porsche, McLaren and Honda.
At the 2016 awards, the F154 wiped the floor with its competitors, winning the category by 189 points.
One year on and the 3,902cc V8 power unit remains in a similarly dominant position – the panel of international motoring judges were so impressed with the Prancing Horse heart that powers the Ferrari 488 GTB and Spider that voting for this engine category finished with a 141-point gulf between the victorious Italian engine and Mercedes-AMG’s 4-litre biturbo V8 power unit that took second place.
Overall International Engine of the Year 2017 Results (Top 3)
Ferrari 3.9-litre biturbo V8 (Ferrari 488 GTB/Spider) – 251
Porsche 3-litre six-cylinder turbo (Porsche 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera 4, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera 4S, Carrera GTS) – 216
BMW 1.5-litre three-cylinder electric-gasoline hybrid (BMW i8) – 151
As the famed International Engine of the Year Awards saying goes, “Brilliant engines win the outright title once, but truly great powertrains do it back-to-back.”
And so Ferrari’s all-conquering F154CB heart has joined an elite club of just four other creations to do the much sought-after and nearly impossible IEOTYA ‘double’: BMW M’s V10 in 2005/6; BMW’s 3.0 twin-turbo in 2007/8; Volkswagen’s TwinCharger in 2009/10; and Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost, which in fact has won the outright title three times, from 2012 to 2014.
And if that’s not impressive enough, in the past two years, the 488 pusher has won no fewer than seven awards in total, including the category class victories, back-to-back Performance Engine titles, and the coveted New Engine award from last year. If ever there’s an engine that’s made a mark on these awards and the industry in general, it’s this!
Oozing with advanced technologies – including a pair of IHI blowers – the 3,902cc V8 moves things forward hugely for performance powertrain development, proving that if done right, a screaming turbo design can not only replace a naturally aspirated unit, it can better it too.
Above 4-litre Engine of the Year
WINNER: Ferrari 6.3-litre V12
(Ferrari F12, F12 tdf)
For many years a pair of Ferrari power units have been engaged in a continuous battle for supremacy in the Above 4-litre category at the International Engine of the Year Awards.
In 2013, the Italian OEM’s 6.3-litre V12 edged out its 4.5-litre V8 stablemate to interrupt a run of successive victories for the smaller displacement engine and, although the V8 also triumphed in 2014 and 2015, the larger engine returned to the top spot last year, and records a second successive victory in 2017.
It finished the voting with a 50-point gap over the second-placed power unit, Audi’s 5.2-litre V10, found in the R8 and Lamborghini Huracan.
The Prancing Horse, it seems, still does large-capacity engines better than most; if any further proof were needed, Ferrari also claimed victory in the 3-litre to 4-litre category at this year’s awards.
Best Performance Engine:
To qualify for inclusion in this category, an engine must have been housed in a passenger car that was on sale in more than one country as of June 2017, and have been designed specifically for a performance-orientated car, or be installed in a vehicle created for sporting fun.
WINNER: Ferrari 3.9-litre biturbo V8
(Ferrari 488 GTB/Spider)
With its shortlist of heavy-hitting, high-octane powerplants that inspire the purest, most innate emotional driving responses, the Performance Engine category is arguably the most alluring of all the International Engine of the Year (IEOTY) Awards categories.
And with no fewer than 50 engines battling it out for the trophy this year, the judging panel was spoiled with an assortment of heart-thumping riches. That Tesla’s full-electric powertrain – an IEOTY multi-award-winning engine that rushes from 0-100km/h in a mind-boggling 2.5 seconds – only finished sixth says everything about the calibre of competition in 2017.
It also speaks volumes about the credentials of the winning power unit, which, for the third-year running, is Ferrari’s 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 marvel. The victory also represents the seventh time a Ferrari powertrain has won this particular category.
Known internally as F154CBh, the Maranello eight-cylinder that powers the 488 GBT and Spider employs a mid-rear-engined architecture that unleashes a whopping 670ps at 8,000rpm and 760Nm of torque at 3,000rpm, with engine and response times of just 0.8 and 0.06 seconds respectively.
Furthermore, its ability to sprint to 100km/h in just three seconds and a near total absence of lag through the rev range – something regarded as a miracle by many in the industry – is aided by two IHI-sourced twin-scroll turbos that help to ensure instant and linear power delivery.
Best Electric Powertrain:
To qualify for inclusion in this category, an all-electric powertrain must have been housed in a passenger car that was on sale in more than one country up to June 2017. Representing a first for the International Engine of the Year Awards, the Electric Powertrain category is a grouping specifically for 100% battery electric vehicles, showcasing the advances in technology for this type of powertrain as it grows in popularity across the world.
WINNER: Tesla full-electric powertrain
(Tesla Model S, Model X)
Representing a first for the International Engine of the Year Awards, the Electric Powertrain category is a grouping specifically for 100% battery electric vehicles, showcasing the advances in technology for this type of powertrain as it grows in popularity across the world.
And the first-ever winner of this all-important new category is, of course, Tesla, with its highly flexible powertrain that currently drives the Model S and X and will soon be in the 3.
It comes as no surprise that the now four-time Green Engine champion has taken first place in the Electric Powertrain group, but perhaps the biggest shock is how easily Tesla charged ahead of its BEV rivals. BMW’s acclaimed i3 finished a huge 113 points off the pace, while GM’s much fancied Chevrolet Bolt e-powertrain, which led early on, ended up with a 156-point shortfall.
Every now and again some bright new thinking comes along, and Tesla has made a full electric car exceptionally desirable.
Green Engine of the Year:
To qualify for inclusion in this category, an engine must have been housed in a passenger car that was on sale in more than one country as of June 2017; have been designed with fuel economy as a priority; and employ intelligent technologies and engine subsystems to reduce all types of emissions, including particulate matter and NOx output.
WINNER: Tesla full-electric powertrain
(Tesla Model S, Model X)
Though the gap between first and second place this year was smaller than in 2016, BMW’s impressive 1.5-litre three-cylinder electric-gasoline hybrid failed to stop Tesla’s totally electric powertrain from claiming a fourth consecutive victory in this increasingly competitive category.
In fact, such is the California tech company’s dominance here – no other engine has taken the Green crown so many times since the classification was introduced in 2008 – that not even General Motors’ new full-electric effort, which powers the innovative Chevrolet Bolt subcompact car, could sway the judges’ minds.
Best New Engine:
To qualify for inclusion in this category, an engine must have been launched after June 2016 and be housed in a passenger car that was on sale in more than one country as of June 2017.
WINNER: Honda 3.5-litre V6 electric-gasoline hybrid
Despite being very different in execution, the 2017 Honda NSX has an awful lot in common with its groundbreaking predecessor from the early 1990s.
Much like the original, technology plays a major part in the car’s appeal and nowhere is that more apparent than the car’s drivetrain. An all-new, sand-cast aluminium 75° block with aluminium cylinder heads is paired with two auxiliary electric motors to deliver a combined output in excess of 560ps.
Due to their arrangement, these motors act as torque fillers for the V6, delivering a combined 645Nm both instantly and continually across the rev range.
The fundamental principals of the all-aluminium engine, increased strength and lower weight, are mirrored throughout the drivetrain, with conscious decisions on materials made throughout the entire package. Elements such as plasma transferred coating on the cylinder walls, offering 52% thermal conductivity with much less weight than traditional cast-iron liners, Inconel turbines, sodium filled valves and compact exhaust system, all help shave valuable weight from the car.
This lightweighting optimization continues through the valvetrain, with swing arm-type valve actuators reducing inertial weight by 22% over common rocker-arm type arrangements, while the decision to use a dry sump lubrication system enabled the engine to be mounted 61mm lower in the car’s frame, compared with a traditional wet sump arrangement.
Translating these advanced technologies into real-world performance means that the NSX dispatches the 0-60mph sprint in 3.1s, achieves 191mph flat out, returns 28.3mpg and emits just 228g/km. The NSX, however, wasn’t the only technical masterclass in the coveted New Engine category, with exemplary new engines from Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeo running the Honda close, right until the last few votes trickled in.
Technical Specification – Honda NSX
• Engine Capacity: 3,493cc
• Number of Cylinders: 6
• Power Output: 567ps
• Bore x Stroke: 91.4 x 88.9mm
• Compression Ratio: 10:1