The International Engine of the Year 2012 is the Ford 1 liter EcoBoost, a very frugal three cylinder, turbocharged, direction injection petrol engine that returns fuel consumption figures of (unofficially) 2.4 liter per 100 km (118 mpg) at 56 km/h, and 5 liter per 100 km (57 mpg) at 120 km/h. That is impressive. But does this return lessen that neck-snapping performance?
So to show just what this engine can do, in the right hands and in the right chassis, Ford produced a unique Formula Ford race car powered by the tiny 1.0 liter EcoBoost petrol engine. This combination turned out supercar-beating performance at the legendary Nürburgring track in Germany, with the 11th fastest lap ever at the Nordschleife circuit – 7 minutes, 22 seconds – higher on the list than the 700 horsepower Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, the 660 horsepower Ferrari Enzo and the 602 horsepower Pagani Zonda. No other three- or even four-cylinder car has posted a faster time at the legendary circuit. (However, in defense of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Pagani, it should be pointed out that the special Ford probably weighed less than 600 kg and could only carry one person.)
A baby Ford in there
“This little engine has people rubbing their eyes in disbelief,” said racing driver and course specialist Nick Tandy, 28, who completed the drive. “It’s simply astonishing that a 3-cylinder, one-liter engine can deliver that kind of performance.” It should also be remembered that performance depends upon both power and weight.
Ford engineers spent several months of work on the project to switch the Formula Ford’s usual 1.6 liter EcoBoost power unit with a specially tuned version of their 1.0 liter EcoBoost.
The project team also modified the vehicle so it would be fully street legal for on-road use by fitting it with wheel covers, front and rear lights and indicators, aerodynamically designed wing mirrors and a horn. The car was fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox and was driven on road-legal tyres. It also had no roof or windscreen wipers!
What the Lamborghini saw
The car’s (unofficial) top speed was 255.5 km/h (158.8 mph) with a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of less than four seconds. The vehicle completed the 20.832 km (12.94 mile) Nordschleife circuit at an average speed of 169 km/h (105 mph).
“We wanted to prove that size doesn’t matter by showing everyone what an amazingly capable engine we have developed in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president of Marketing and Sales, Ford of Europe. “What better way than by beating some of the best supercars in the world on the Nordschleife, while using a fraction of the fuel.”