Which cylinder car is best?
10 Best 3-Cylinder Cars – Definition to the Power & Efficiency
BMW i8 is one of the best 3-cylinder cars that BMW introduced in 2014, famous for its powerful small engine.
Updated Jan 10, 2022 Tag Car Engines, Best Cars
3-cylinder cars have a number of benefits that can prove to be incredibly useful when you are in need for a car. It costs less to purchase and maintain than bigger engines, which will save you lots of money in the long run. However, there are a few problems with owning a 3-cylinder car as well. For some people, the noise and vibrations will be too much for them to handle, and they also have less power and torque than larger ones.
The modern edition of 3-cylinder cars is equipped with premium turbocharging to deliver superior horsepower and fuel economy. And if you’re planning to purchase a 3-cylinder car and searching for the best model in the market, don’t worry, we got you covered. We have curated the 10 best 3 cylinder cars you may consider checking.
- 1. BMW i8
- 2. Koenigsegg Gemera
- 3. Ford Fiesta
- 4. Ford Focus
- 5. MINI Cooper Clubman
- 6. 2018 Volvo XC40 T3
- 7. Toyota GR Yaris
- 8. MINI Hardtop
- 9. BMW 118i M Sport
- 10. Smart Fortwo
10 Smart Fortwo
0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, 89 hp
Last but certainly not least, the Smart Fortwo is another good car fitted with 3-cylinder engines. It is run by a rear-mounted, 0.9L 3-cylinder engine that delivers 89 horsepower and is dispatched by a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. It has a top fuel economy with a rating of 34 miles per gallon in the city and 39mpg on the highway. When combined, it delivers 36mpg.
It has adequate space for your needs and will surely provide you with a better quality ride. It can run a top speed of 96 miles per hour and can go from 0-60 mph for just about 10 seconds on the road. For that select minority who’ll put up with the double seating and premium-octane gas consumption, the Fortwo is the absolute right choice.
9 BMW 118i M Sport
1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder, 138hp
As mentioned, BMW is always at the top of its game to manufacture high-end cars with 3-cylinder engines inside. That said, the company’s BMW 118i M Sport is also on the premium quality level for its patrons and first-time buyers.
This BMW 118i M Sport is equipped with a 1.5L 3-cylinder engine that can make up to 138 horsepower and deliver a whopping 103kW of power and 220 Nm of torque. It has a maximum speed of 213km per hour and can run from 0-100 km in just around 8.5 seconds. The power is delivered by seven-speed twin-clutch auto transmission to the front wheels to run as speedy as it.
It is now available in the market at around $48,900.
8 MINI Hardtop
1.5 Liter 3-cylinder, 134hp
The 2020 edition of MINI Hardtop is another good car that deserves your recognition. Its small engine is as powerful and as good as other cars equipped with big engines. It is equipped with a 1.5 liter 3-cylinder twin power turbo engine, which sends up to 134 horsepower. It can run from 0-60 miles in just an hour and takes not more than 7.5 seconds, with a maximum speed of 90 miles in one hour.
Furthermore, this MINI Hardtop also comes with top fuel efficiency at 29 miles in one gallon running in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. When combined, it can run up to 33mpg. Pricing around $23,400 for a MINI Hardtop is definitely worth a bang.
7 Toyota GR Yaris
1.6-litre G16E-GTS three-cylinder, 257 hp
Fitted with a 1.6 liter 3-cylinder petrol engine, the Toyota GR Yaris delivers a result of 88kW and 145 Nm. This engine can send a whopping 268hp and 370 Nm of torque and makeup to 257 horsepower. It has a more fresh design and is best for someone who loves to always be on the road.
In addition, this car is rated to run from 0-60mph in less than 5.5 seconds and can run as far as 143 mph. If you wish to have an actual experience of this Toyota 3-cylinder model, then expect to shell out around $36,100-41,600.
6 2018 Volvo XC40 T3
1.5-litre three cylinder, 156 hp
Volvo’s 2018 Edition of Volvo XC4O is fitted with a robust 1.5L 3-cylinder engine, which offers up to 10% better economic fuel. This engine type comes with direct injection and uses aluminum material for its head and cylinder block. It comes with four valves per cylinder, which delivers 156 hp at 5,000 rpm and 265 Nm of torque.
This car delivers a top-notch speed of 143 miles per hour with 60 miles acceleration per hour in just a total of 6.5 seconds. It is designed with a lot of space inside and an extravagant interior, making it worth $35,900 USD. If you want a more upgraded edition of Volvo XC, wait for their upcoming models to be released this year.
5 MINI Cooper Clubman
1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, 134 hp
The Mini Cooper 2019 edition is one of MINI’s impressive 3-cylinder cars unveiled in the market. It is fitted with a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine, which delivers up to 134 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft of torque. It has heated front seats, an 8.8-inch touch screen inside, a navigation control app, and many more.
Apart from that, this MINI Cooper Clubman also comes with keyless entry and automatic climate control, if you need one. It can run up to 60 miles in one hour, taking you for around 9 seconds. It also comes with economical fuel with manual transmission evaluated at 25 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway. It has a total of 28mpg when combining city and highway.
It is available in the market at a price starting at $38,400 and higher, depending on some factors.
4 Ford Focus
1.0-litre three-cylinder, 123 hp
Another best 3-cylinder car on our list is the 2018 model Ford Focus. This compact car is also equipped with a 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, just like the previous Ford Fiesta, which delivers up to 123 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft of torque. It also comes with a broad array of powertrains and two body styles, with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
With Ford Focus, you can experience its full speed of 60 mph that only takes around 9 seconds. It is so commendable for its small engine, yet still able to deliver a top-tier power and strength expected from big and heavy machines. Its manual transmission is also highly elevated with more economical offers, up to 30 miles rating in just one gallon.
Pricing around $17,950, this Ford Focus is one worth buying a 3-cylinder car in the market today.
3 Ford Fiesta
1.0-liter inline three-cylinder, 120 hp
Ever since its first release in 1976, Ford Fiesta has been its top-selling small car. It is very known for its speedy running and outstanding performance. There is already a 7th generation version of the Ford Fiesta. Arguably, this model is one of the most exquisite cars in its range, bagging the title of Car of the Year for threefold years.
The Ford Fiesta is powered by the company’s very own 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine that uses four valves per turbocharger and cylinder, which can generate 120 hp and 125 lb.-ft of torque. It can run to 60mph, which will only take you lower than 9 seconds, making it one of the best economical subcompact cars. It is also available with a 5-speed manual transmission, implying that this small engine can run up to 31 miles in one gallon.
If you’re looking for a classic, 3-cylinder car, this Ford Fiesta, retailing from $15,000 and above, is a worthy investment.
2 Koenigsegg Gemera
2.0-liter twin-turbo three-cylinder (600hp) and 3 electric motors, combined 1677 hp
After its introduction in 2020, Koenigsegg’s Gemera instantly became a crowd favorite due to its top speed of 248 mph, backed by a 1700 HP hybrid powertrain. In fact, this 4-seater car was acclaimed to be the fastest car worldwide today. It is made out of its excellent team with a hybrid technology that runs inside, using the first-class rotating force of electric motors.
The Gemera is furnished with a twin-turbocharged 3-cylinder 2L engine under its body, which is why it can deliver up to 600 horsepower. What makes this 3-cylinder twin-turbo setup work is the FreeValve that pushes it. Each cylinder is fitted with one set of exhaust valves per turbo. Besides, this FreeValve enables those valves to be nearby at lower rpm, implying that only one turbo is utilized. This allows the single turbo to cylinder better and faster. This is perhaps the most robust 3-cylinder unit supplied to a quantity-produced car. The company released this car for only 300 units last year, costing around $1,700,000.
1 BMW i8
1.5 liter turbocharged three-cylinder (228 hp) and electric motor, combined 369 hp
BMW i8 is one of the best 3-cylinder cars that BMW introduced in 2014, famous for its powerful small engine. This version was the world’s first-ever plug-in hybrid sports car with a customary gas engine feature. And although it is equipped with hybrid technology, this car still highly depends on a 3-cylinder 1.5-liter combustion engine. It is also fitted with an electric motor to deliver the best, efficient performance on the road.
Compared to other hybrid cars, this BMW i8 is built to offer more top-notch performance. This BMW i8 can also generate incredible 228 hp horsepower and 236 lb.-ft of torque to the rear wheels due to the internal 3-cylinder engine inside. It can run from 0-60 mph of just 4.2 seconds and a maximum speed of 155 mph per hour.
For a small engine to generate 230 horsepower, the 3-cylinder utilizes up to four valves in every turbocharging, cylinder, and direct injection. The 2020 BMW i8 3-cylinder is now available for around $147,500, but the price is much higher or lower depending on the store’s location, color, etc.
References  ^ YouTube: How Koenigsegg’s Tiny Engine Makes 600 Horsepower — Only 3 Cylinders!  ^ Popular Mechanics: BMW i8: We Drive the 3-Cylinder Eco Supercar You May Also Like Fastest Cars 10 Fastest 4-Cylinder Cars: Ranked by 0-60 MPH Fastest Cars 10 Fastest 4-Cylinder Cars: Ranked by Top Speed Car Engines The 12 Most Powerful 4-Cylinder Engines of All Time (2022 update) Used Cars The 10 Best Used Hot Hatchbacks of 2021 (Buying Guide)
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Here’s The Problem With Three-Cylinder Engines
Three cylinder engines are a big deal now. The age of downsizing has seen myriad three-pot options appear from VW Group, BMW, Honda and more. Usually featuring turbocharged assistance, power is rarely an issue, however, they aren’t always the most pleasant engines to experience. But why is that?
An inline three-cylinder engine is essentially a straight six engine lopped in half. Normally in a straight six, the two outer cylinders reach top dead centre (TDC) in unison, with the other four cylinders reaching specific angles of rotation to balance the primary forces, secondary forces and rotational torque of the engine nicely.
In a three-pot, piston one (the front piston) reaches TDC while the other two are 120 degrees away from either TDC or bottom dead centre (BDC). This means that the primary and secondary forces are balanced vertically, but the torque over the reciprocating pistons is not matched in unison like in an I6. Instead, the engine is trying to naturally rotate and flip over on itself. So to avert this, a balancing shaft is needed to counteract the twisting force.
The torque inbalance (shared with inline-five engines) makes for a rattling powertrain as the engine tries to rock from end-to-end, even when balanced as much as physically possible. This is due to the weight of the balancing shaft that the crankshaft has to work against, making these engines less free-revving than their more-balanced counterparts. Counterweights can also be machined into the crankshaft itself but they also add weight, decreasing its ability to rotate freely.
Also, due to the fact that ignition occurs every 240 degrees, the crankshaft journals are spaced 120 degrees apart. This means that there will be a significant proportion of crankshaft rotation (60 degrees) when no power stroke is occurring. That reciprocatory feature leads to the lack of smoothness in power delivery and large amounts of vibration that three-cylinder engines are notorious for. The rough-running engine behaviour will be emphasised at lower engine speeds especially, due to the lack of power strokes occurring.
Despite these shortcomings, there are plenty of reasons why many manufacturers these days are choosing three-cylinder engines. Firstly, they’re lightweight and compact which allows them to be placed in multiple platforms throughout a manufacturer’s range of vehicles. For example, BMW uses the three-cylinder powertrain from the Mini in its i8 hybrid sports car.
In terms of performance, one less cylinder than a standard inline-four engine makes for a decrease in frictional losses from the moving components. This factor along with smaller displacements amounts to strong economy figures.
With lower-spec models in car line-ups often leaning towards three-cylinder powertrains, it’s probable that many ‘first cars’ bought from new will feature these small engines, depending on how the expected move away from downsizing in the industry pans out.
With the reduced manufacturing costs when compared to an I4, the next few years could become the heyday of the three-cylinder engine until the next leap in IC technology occurs. Although this may seem a gloomy future compared to what we’re all used to, with a touch more refinement, the three-pot could make for an eager and spritely companion.
Have you ever owned a three-cylinder car? Does a smaller displacement three-pot appeal to you over a more generic inline-four? We’d like to know your opinion below.
Best 6-Cylinder Cars
For efficiency, it’s hard to beat a good six-cylinder engine. You can get decent power out of them with the help of a turbocharger, and they’ll still be relatively fuel efficient. As a matter of fact, you can get some good V8 power out of them.
Hailed as one of the most balanced engines, the inline-six has been morphed into a high horsepower producing monster. Inline-sixes, however, has been dropped from several cars in favor of the more fuel-economic inline-four engine, which of course has two fewer cylinders.
V6 engines have their place as well. You’ve probably heard the old adage “no replacement for displacement”, but fortunately because of turbochargers, this is wrong. Formula 1 cars went from 2.4-liter V8s to turbocharged 1.6-liter V6s, and make the same if not more horsepower, roughly 900. Of course, those engines take hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, however, the logic holds true.
These are some of the best cars you can buy today equipped with a six-cylinder engine, followed by some famous six cylinders that have sadly left us:
- Ford Taurus SHO
- BMW M2
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Subaru Legacy
- 1993-2002 Toyota Supra Mk.IV Turbo
- 2007 BMW 335i
- 1998-2000 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
- 1996 Ford F-150 XL
- Chrysler Slant 6
- Nissan R32 GTR Skyline
Ford Taurus SHO
It’s gotten some bad press for feeling like you’re driving a boat, but however you want to slice it, the Ford Taurus SHO has more than 360 horsepower out of a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. It’s got top marks for safety, very good reliability, and Ford finally did away with that pesky inline-four for the 2018 model year.
Since the M3 now only comes as a sedan, the M2 had to step up and take the helm of sports luxury coupe. It’s kind of a tight fit, but the M2 moves under a 3.0-liter inline-six with two turbos and makes the same horsepower as the SHO. It’s also got BMW handling on its RWD platform which frankly blows the SHO’s AWD out of the water.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
There was no way a car with an engine designed by Ferrari wasn’t going to make this list. Enter the Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio Italiana Extraordinairo. Ok, that last part was made up but we didn’t make up the fact that it’s got a tiny 2.9-liter V6, and thanks to the help of two turbochargers it makes more than 500 horsepower. Look no further for a proper top of the line V6.
The Legacy earns its place because of its unusual boxer-layout six-cylinder engine. It’s 3.6-liters with more than 260 horsepower, and that’s without the use of forced induction. The Legacy also retains Subaru’s variable-assist 4WD system, which is only active in extreme circumstances.
1993-2002 Toyota Supra Mk.IV Turbo
Toyota Supra Mk. IVs used the 2JZ engine, a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that produced 300 horsepower from the factory. What the 2JZ is famous for is being able to handle significant horsepower figures without having its internals changed. Internals refer to pistons, rods, and the crankshaft.
Some Supra owners claim to have reached up to 900, while others have said a more sustainable amount is closer to 600 or so. Either way, the 2JZ is decidedly an over-built engine and was designed to take double the official horsepower rating. The cylinder block itself is known to have taken up to 2,000 horsepower.
2007 BMW 335i
BMW’s 335i was, at a time, equipped with a 3.0-liter inline-six engine dubbed the N54. It had two small turbochargers, and for a few months of 2007 came with forged pistons, until BMW decided, presumably, that it was too expensive and went with a cast piston instead. While those cast pistons are still of very high quality, on the forged pistons from early 2007 owners have reported gains of up to around 800 horsepower at the wheels, which means their engine produced closer to 900 at the crank.
Used Cars To Buy
Car Buying Tips
1998-2000 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
The V6 found in the Mitsubishi 3000GT is a great engine that was used in a lot of different cars, including the Dodge Caravan and the Hyundai Sonata (from 1990-98). It was called the 6G7, and in the 3000GT VR-4 it was twin turbocharged and made 300 horsepower.
If you’re looking for one of these be advised, as the engine came in two different forms as having single overhead cam or dual overhead cam. Dual is better for power, single is better for reliability.
1996 Ford F-150 XL
One of only two American-made engines on this list, the 4.9-liter inline-six from Ford was used in the F-150 from 1964 until 1996. While not a V8 and, therefore, not extraordinarily powerful, it was renowned for being robust and easy to work on, with decent low-end power.
If you want the most reliable F-150, get one equipped with the 4.9-liter mated to a manual transmission and call it a day. There are some mods for it, but really as long as you leave it stock it’ll last forever with minimal maintenance, which is what you want in a truck.
Chrysler Slant 6
For a time Chrysler cars used what were called slant six engines, which had its cylinder bank, you guessed it, slanted to the side instead of sitting straight up. These were known for impressive, interstellar durability. You can find them in old Valiants, in some Dodge Rams from 1981-1993, and lots of other cars. They could make a lot of horsepower. Some owners report having more than 400 horsepower out of their slant six.
Nissan R32 GTR Skyline
Used in the king of Japanese muscle, the Nissan R32 GTR Skyline, the RB26DETT was a twin-turbocharged 2.6-liter inline-six engine that made about 300 horsepower from the factory. Nissan made identifying engine specs easy, in that RB denotes inline-six, 26 is 2.6-liters, D for dual overhead cam, E for electronic fuel injection, and TT for twin turbos.
Engine modifiers have reported impressive gains on the RB as well, close to 600 reliable horsepower on the stock internals. For a time the R32 was illegal in the United States, but thanks to the import law of 25 years or older, you can get an R32 as new as 1992 imported. Just be sure to make it carb legal in your state.
Six-cylinder engines, in general, make some of the best engines in the history of the car. There’s a reason BMW has been using them since the 1970s, and there’s a reason they keep making power. While inline-six engines are renowned for being balanced, don’t knock the practicality of a V6.
It’s shorter than an inline because it’s essentially half of the length. You have two cylinder banks separated by 60 or so degrees, each holding only three cylinders, as opposed to six in a line. The V formation allows you to mount the engine farther back towards the center of the car, which helps with keeping the center of gravity under the driver, thereby balancing the car for better handling. In any case, if someone tells you «no replacement for displacement» in defense of their gargantuan V8s, just say, «yes there is», and show them your turbocharged six-cylinder. For performance per dollar, a turbocharged six-cylinder is hard to beat.
Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.