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What does engine size mean and should it influence my purchase?

What does engine size mean and should it influence my purchase?

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Traditionally, the larger a car, the larger the engine. However, thanks to the implementation of turbocharging across the board, it has allowed manufacturers to create smaller engines which still bring the power levels of their larger counterparts. It also allows car makers to improve efficiency and fuel consumption without forsaking performance. But what else do you need to know about engines? Let’s take a look.

engine

If you’ve ever started browsing for a new car there’s a good chance that you’ll have noticed the almost bewildering number of engine choices out there. Bringing vastly different capacities, each manufacturer has its own attitude towards powertrains which, in turn, leads there to being a whole host of options for buyers. 

Traditionally, the larger a car, the larger the engine. However, thanks to the implementation of turbocharging across the board, it has allowed manufacturers to create smaller engines which still bring the power levels of their larger counterparts. It also allows car makers to improve efficiency and fuel consumption without forsaking performance. But what else do you need to know about engines? Let’s take a look. 


engine

So why do we measure engine size in litres?

Engine size can also be referred to as its capacity of displacement. Of course, an engine is made up of a considerable number of parts, but one crucial area is the cylinders where the air and fuel is mixed before combustion takes place. 

The volume of these cylinders is measured in cubic centimetres (CC) and they amount to 1,000cc in one litre. When it comes to displaying these figures, that cc number is usually rounded up to the nearest tenth of a litre, making a 995cc engine a 1.0-litre on paper, for example. 


But is bigger always better?

That isn’t always the case. Cars are usually fitted with an engine which relates to both their size and intended use. It’s why you’ll often find small cars fitted with compact engines because they don’t require as much power and bring more affordable running costs. 

Likewise, sometimes when a big car is fitted with a smaller, less powerful engine it can prove to be less efficient as the engine is required to work harder in order to get the car moving. In these instances, a larger engine would be a better fit. 


engine

Do I need to pay attention to engine size?

If you’re buying a brand new car then engine size probably won’t matter quite as much. Because of the way modern turbocharging works, a 1.4-litre car could prove to be more powerful or less efficient than a 2.0-litre model. 

Though engine size is a good place to start, you’re better off taking a look at power figures, fuel economy and CO2 emissions in order to get a clearer picture of the car’s performance. 

That said, if you’re planning on buying an older car, then engine size could be a good indicator of how powerful it will be and how costly it could prove to run, too. 

How does the petrol-powered internal combustion engine work? Engine layouts explained How to check a car’s engine oil