Why do newer cars tend to have smaller/less powerful engines?

The Trutherizer

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Power is not everything. For one you have weight to power. Size of the rims. Drag coefficient. Target top speed. Target application. How that all balances with comfort. Other features. Target price point. Etc... Etc... Etc...

And because an engine is smaller does not mean it is cheap. Many of these new high tech engines required decades and many billions of dollars to develop.

Truth be told I believe that most of what we pay for a car these days compared to 20 years ago is A: Inflation (obvs) B: Keeping designers in the gravy. But people abide by it. You see maybe a minor portion of drivers intentionally bucking the trend in an effort to balance things. But by and large people act like good little consumers. Many might call themselves rebels, but if you dropped a mil in their laps the story would be different. Marketers are always at hand to maintain this trend by hook or by crook of course.

What do?

One thing always remains true. You should shop for the best car that suits your needs that you can comfortably afford. Whatever else a car is never going to be an asset unless you happen to buy one that turns into a collector's item in a few decades. And you happen to look after it well enough to ride that mythical wave.

Finally. There are still powerful cars out there. We are just poor here in SA. We are over-taxed. Our spending power is s**t.
 
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Barbarian Conan

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Turbo engines makes a lot more torque lower down in the rev range, so it will feel more powerful than it actually is, so a lower powered engine can feel similarly powerful.
 

Naks

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Also, the torque delivery band is more important that the peak power.

IMHO 80kW with the torque delivered (almost) linearly from low revs is more fun to drive than 100kW with the torque peaking at 5,000 rpm or more.

And of course, it all depends on the application, e.g., for an off-roader, you want max torque as low down as possible, whereas for a road car you would want it a bit more linear.

Power figures can be the same for different cars, but the delivery can be vastly different, resulting in a very different driving experience.
 

Pox

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Power is just marketing. Torque is what makes a car driveable, and the small turbo engines usually have more torque, especially at lower revs, than bigger engines.

There has also been an increase in the emissions laws, forcing car makers to go to smaller engines that have less emissions.

Engine size is mattering less and less. Mercedes makes a 2L engine that pushed out the same power and torque as 5L V8 engines.
 

genetic

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Emission laws and fuel economy is the reason for smaller displacement engines.
 

Magnum

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The reason is tax and turbos

You can design a turbo to only "kick in" at moderate to high RPMs of the engine.

Instead of a 1.5 L engine producing say 90 kW, you can turbo a 1L to 90 kW just before red line. You are now in a situation where the 1L performs roughly the same in full out performance as a 1.5 L, but the rest of the time you are driving normally you get the fuel efficiency benefit of a smaller engine operating under a higher relative load and closer to it's maximal efficiency point

Also almost everywhere in UK/EU you get taxed on fuel consumtion / fumes in urban areas, so people want smaller engine cars that dont cost as much to run around in the city
In theory yes. Practically the turbo is always spooling causing higher emmisions and more costly repairs than the 1.5l.
 

Magnum

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Power is just marketing. Torque is what makes a car driveable, and the small turbo engines usually have more torque, especially at lower revs, than bigger engines.

There has also been an increase in the emissions laws, forcing car makers to go to smaller engines that have less emissions.

Engine size is mattering less and less. Mercedes makes a 2L engine that pushed out the same power and torque as 5L V8 engines.
I beg your pardon....Bring me that 2L Merc and we do a 400m...
 

genetic

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Engine size is mattering less and less. Mercedes makes a 2L engine that pushed out the same power and torque as 5L V8 engines.
Maybe a 5L V8 from the 1960's.

That 2L turbo engine would never last as long as the bigger NA counterparts - but if you don't plan to keep the car for years, then I doubt that's an issue. Then you've got the electronics that are guaranteed to fail first too.

Newer cars are like cellphones - they're not meant to last a lifetime any more.
 

WollieVerstege

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Agree with many that the issue is emissions and feul economy, but what I have also noted is that people are driving a lot less in Europe, where most cars are made or that market targered, thus small engines for toodling around cities is far more important. Show a European the N1 through the Karoo and they'll faint.
 

Neuk_

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VW want's you do think that, until its tested in the real world :p
Yeah, unfortunately, in the real world most drivers have no idea how properly drive a car which causes all sorts of discrepancies.
 

thechamp

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It's simply because manufacturers realised they could sell you less for more money, it's not only about engine power, even features of a car, for an example Toyota brought a CH-R at a premium to our market, with only two airbags, there is absolutely no reason why a car of that price should have two airbags, they later improved on this and the current one has 6 airbags, but the fact remains that many people are stuck with the earlier less safe model.

The other aspects like emissions are also a factor but the driving force is that South Africans in particular are happy to pay good money for mediocrity.
 

PsYTraNc3

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As mentioned by others, TURBO POWER! :laugh:

Also, the first gen i20 had 2 engine options: 1.4 & 1.6
Facelift: 1.2, 1.4, 1.4 diesel (which I had)
2nd gen: 1.4 & a very decent 1.0T in other parts of the world
Hyundai SA just rips us off by only offering the 1.4 and fewer features than other countries.

Fiesta went from 1.4 & 1.6 to 1.4 & 1.0T

The smaller, turbocharged engines are more fuel-efficient and offer more power than their predecessors so why not?
 

S.Claus

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I’ll just leave this here. My second point being who are you trying to race ? I don’t see a point in having a extremely fast car unless you stay in Germany so if the car can reach 120 it’s fine .
 

ChrisThomas

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At altitidue like we are up here, your naturally aspirated engines develop up to 30% less power depending on the barometric pressures of the day and so on and so forth. There is just less oxygen up here, an engine with a turbo negates this problem as well. Your 1.0 turbo with 71 kw will probably out run any 1.6 with 88 kw I'm sure.
 

thechamp

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I’ll just leave this here. My second point being who are you trying to race ? I don’t see a point in having a extremely fast car unless you stay in Germany so if the car can reach 120 it’s fine .
88kW and 150Nm and is not racing power but it makes you life on the road a little more pleasant that 66kW and 110Nm.

I wouldn't normally have an issue with downgrading engine power if that corresponds to lowering of prices, however in most cases it's the opposite here in SA, you get a decent 1.5l entry level car this year and a couple of years down the line the price has gone up but now you get an crappy 1.2l to go with the hefty price tag.
 

genetic

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At altitidue like we are up here, your naturally aspirated engines develop up to 30% less power depending on the barometric pressures of the day and so on and so forth. There is just less oxygen up here, an engine with a turbo negates this problem as well. Your 1.0 turbo with 71 kw will probably out run any 1.6 with 88 kw I'm sure.
Depends on the torque figures and power to weight ratio,

kW is not the determining factor.
 
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