Christmas came early for the engine-making elves at a handful of automakers, as WardsAuto released its closely watched list of the world's 10 best engines.

BMW and Fiat Chrysler each placed two engines on the list. Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo each had one.

The winners provide a snapshot of how varied drivetrain technology has become. They range from an electric motor and hydrogen fuel cell to a 1-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, a V6 diesel and a supercharged 6.2-liter V8.

"It's not just a list for enthusiasts or for environmentalists," WardsAuto World editor Drew Winter said. "There's something for every vehicle shopper and every budget. All the powertrains on this list deliver a first-rate driving experience."

In alphabetical order by brand, the winners are:

––BMW i3 127kW electric motor.

––Chevrolet Corvette 460-hp 6.2L V8.

––Dodge Challenger SRT 707-hp supercharged V8.

––Ford Fiesta 123-hp turbocharged 1.0L three-cylinder.

––Hyundai Tucson FCV 100kW hydrogen fuel cell.

––Mini Cooper 134-hp 1.5L turbo three-cylinder

––Ram 1500 240-hp 3.0L V6 turbodiesel.

––Subaru WRX 268-hp 2.0L turbo four-cylinder boxer.

––Volkswagen 170-hp 1.8L turbo four-cylinder.

––Volvo 240-hp 2.0L turbo four-cylinder.

The list shows how quickly turbocharged engines have become automakers' preferred way to offer both power and fuel efficiency. Turbos were rare in mainstream cars like the VW Golf and Ford Fiesta just a few years ago.

It's the first time a three-cylinder engine made the list. Automakers traditionally shunned that layout because it was noisy and rough. The fact that both BMW's Mini and Ford won over WardsAuto journalists who evaluate dozens of powerplants every year suggests that more three-cylinder engines will arrive soon.

The Hyundai Tucson FCV is the first hydrogen fuel cell to make the list. Automakers are developing fuel cells because they do not emit any greenhouse gases, but the technology faces a long road to wide use because there's no infrastructure to deliver hydrogen to drivers.

Wards evaluated 37 powerplants for the awards: last year's 10 winners and 27 new or substantially re-engineered powerplants.



Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at mmphelan@freepress.com.


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