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Top 5: Three-cylinder engines: CNET On Cars

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CNET On Cars: Top 5: Three-cylinder engines

3:48 /

Brian Cooley runs down his top five powerful peg legs.

[MUSIC] If you even remember the 3-cylinder engines of the 80s and early 90s, you know they were one thing. Crap. Nobody uses the words, too bad, when they see a rusted-out Geo Metro, Subaru Justy, or Daihatsu Charade. But 3s are back. I'm Brian Cooley here with the top five three-cylinder engines in current production that are really wowing people on the road. We're gonna rank these by their specific output. In other words, how much power they crank out per liter. Here we go. Number five is the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage. Yeah, they're still around. 62 Horsepower per liter. It's a 1.2 Liter per 74 Horsepower. Now a 40 mpg average with a stick is quite good, but beyond that nothing about it tries to be anything other than stingy. So it's fittingly at the bottom of our list. Number four, the 2014 Smart ForTwo. 70 horsepower per liter. Now Smart must love this. They're not at that bottom of a list for once. That's 70 horse out of its 1 liter engine sadly gets worse MPG however, than the Mitsu gets out of a larger engine. Smart does 36 average. This by the way is perhaps the oldest 3 cylinder on the market, Four two's have had an in line 3 since launch back in 1988. Now there is a Bravas edition of the Smart that ekes out another handful of horsepower, but not enough to move it to number three which is the 2013 Mini Cooper. 91 horse per liter. Here we have the veritable big boy of our group, a relatively portly one and a half liter engine, but just three cylinders 136 horsepower, thanks to a turbo and direct injection. With a stick your average MPG is 34. Incidentally, this is the same basic engine found in the very different BMW I8, but in that car it's been hotted up to 228 horsepower, but is part of a hybrid system. So that's another list. Number two is the 2014 Opel Adam, 115 horse per liter, now our U.S. viewers won't know what I'm talking about but this is in a nutshell, a hot looking alternative to a Fiat 500 made by the Opel division of General Motors. It's one liter three, uses high compression, direct injection and a turbo to break the three digit mark at 115 horse per liter. On demand oil and water pump are some of its other tricks to make sure that it sips fuel and doesn't squander it's three cylinder miserliness. Before I get you to number one, the king of the three cylinders is actually Nissan's DIG-T R. The one and a half liter that does 400 horsepower. That's a specific output of 266 horse per little tiny liter, you're not gonna find one of this in your versa anytime soon. Its purpose built for the delta wing Zeod RC hybrid race car. The engine is small enough to qualify as a carry on at the airport though at 88 pounds, it would do a number on your rotator cup if you rest it in your overhead. Though I've seen some of you put heavier things up there. Our number one mighty three cylinder engine is found in the 2014 Ford Fiesta, SFE. It does 123 HP/liter. This little turbo, direct injection powerhouse, is only found in this special lean edition of the Fiesta. And only with a manual transmission. Which is fine by me since Ford's power shift dual clutch gear box doesn't exactly inspire love letters. And in this combination, you'll get 36 miles per gallon average. High tech cars and modern driving, that's what you'll find at www.CNETONCARS.com, I'm Brian Cooley, thanks for watching. [MUSIC]

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