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

The Voice

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Because of emission laws around the world. Petrol emissions harm the environment, diesel emissions harm people. So the smaller the engine, the lower the emissions. Of course, it puts people off because we don't care about our health and we just want more power, so manufacturers slap turbos on everything.

Another interesting fact is that environmental laws are now also to blame for manufacturers using fewer layers of paint on their cars, so you're more likely to have paint chips on your new car than the one you owned 20 years ago. Thanks for nothing, Greta!
 

ChrisThomas

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Depends on the torque figures and power to weight ratio,

kW is not the determining factor.
In the case made earlier about the Fiesta vs the Figo - 71 kw Fiesta puts out 170nm whilst the 91 kw Figo puts out 150nm
 

saturnz

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engines may be smaller yes, but they certainly have become more powerful

a family sedan 2.0l Toyota motor makes the same power these days as a hot hatch performance 2.0 engine made 30 years ago
 

chan0o

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- Better metallurgy, smaller engine blocks can take more beating, so push it rather than having a bigger block
- Stricter emission controls, manufacturers get fined if they exceed certain threshold
- It sells, general population care more about fuel economy than performance

TLDR: Manufacturers maximizing profit
 

justplain

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SUV's etc... stop it.
More mass to move around for a start. Stop making cars so huge.
The new Gordon Murray T.50 is a prime example. Sure, it's stupid expensive, though the ethos is right... being.. SMALL AND LIGHT.
Knock 200-300kg out of a vehicle and suddenly it goes better and is more economical
 

saturnz

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SUV's etc... stop it.
More mass to move around for a start. Stop making cars so huge.
The new Gordon Murray T.50 is a prime example. Sure, it's stupid expensive, though the ethos is right... being.. SMALL AND LIGHT.
Knock 200-300kg out of a vehicle and suddenly it goes better and is more economical
Gordon Murray will only be able to sell a few of those cars, not enough for a normal car manufacturer to generate profits. I think the F1 was actually sold at a loss- I can't find the citation for this now though
 

Barbarian Conan

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engines may be smaller yes, but they certainly have become more powerful

a family sedan 2.0l Toyota motor makes the same power these days as a hot hatch performance 2.0 engine made 30 years ago
Cars also became heavier, but yes, overall all but the cheapest cars have progressively gotten faster.
 

justplain

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Yeah, not concerned about the volume of sales, rather the approach.
His T50 has to comply to all the crash tests etc.
Clearly the story of bigger cars to make them safer and more spacious isnt completely true.
All those massive SUV's with 1 person in them most of the time.
Pity the manufactures are more about profit than actually producing environmentally conscious cars.
Make a bigger car and make an ever bigger profit....

Gordon Murray will only be able to sell a few of those cars, not enough for a normal car manufacturer to generate profits. I think the F1 was actually sold at a loss- I can't find the citation for this now though
 

Neuk_

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Depends on the torque figures and power to weight ratio,

kW is not the determining factor.
Depends on what you are measuring, top speed, in gear acceleration, etc, etc. Ignoring factors like weight, aerodynamics, gear ratios, etc. torque spread is better for in gear acceleration while power is better for top end speed. Modern petrol engines are giving diesels a run for their money as they can make good power at the top of the rpm range while maintaining torque from low down through the mid range. I still love diesels for their tractability around town and their frugality on the open road.
 

Eric

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Is it because of fuel economy? Surely that can't be the only reason? Is there something I'm missing?

Example;
2012 i20 1.6l engine 91kw
2016 i20 1.4l engine 74kw

Why would I want a less powerful engine? Unless they are trying to make you buy an i30 or an Elantra? or are the newer engines configured in a way that you won't feel the 17kw difference?

Ford Fiesta, same story
2010 Fiesta 1.6 Titanium 88kw
2014 Fiesta 1.4 Trend 71kw

(theres also the ecoboost, so idk how that plays into things)

I see this quite often now, some cars also have 900cc turbos or 1l turbos. Which is cool and all, but how is that better if it has the same power as the previous gens 1.4l? idk. I'm not a car guy, so educate me?

Also, it's kinda weird that the Ford Figo has 88kw, but a fiesta will have like 71, unless you opt for a very expensive version. Like, that just seems weird to me, imagine pulling up next to a figo in your fiesta and hes faster than you ok nobody is gonna pull up in a fiesta but still. Its weird.
Fuel economy sells cars. How many kids do you support?
 

Claymore

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SUV's etc... stop it.
More mass to move around for a start. Stop making cars so huge.
The new Gordon Murray T.50 is a prime example. Sure, it's stupid expensive, though the ethos is right... being.. SMALL AND LIGHT.
Knock 200-300kg out of a vehicle and suddenly it goes better and is more economical
Thanks to broken regulations. In the US, manufacturers were required to meet tough emissions targets for a majority of the vehicles they produced. Commercial/agricultural vehicles had much more lax target, so naturally the manufacturers produced and marketed heaps of pickups and SUVs.
 
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