By Michael Hines
Not so long ago the auto industry viewed four-cylinder engines as being only fit for economy cars. That has all changed nowadays. Thanks to higher gas prices and ever-tougher emissions regulations worldwide an increasing number of automakers have begun putting four-cylinder engines under the hoods of iconic models. While this has enraged some automotive purists the general public seems more than happy to drive a European sports car or American muscle car packing a turbocharged engine with just four cylinders. These five awesome sports cars with four-cylinder engines prove that downsizing isn’t always a bad thing.
5. The Chevrolet Camaro
The Camaro and Mustang have been competing for decades now, so it only made sense for Chevy to launch a four-cylinder Camaro to compete against Ford’s four-cylinder Mustang. The Camaro’s turbocharged engine is smaller, checking in at 2.0-liters. It’s less powerful too, with an output of 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Unlike Ford, Chevy chose to not make the four-cylinder Camaro more powerful than its V6 model, a fact which should ensure that engine option’s survival when it comes time for a refresh. In a Motor Trend head-to-head test the turbocharged Mustang was declared the winner, although the less powerful Camaro was able to dominate straight-line runs thanks to the fact that it weighs 230 pounds less than the Ford.
4 & 3. The Porsche 718 Cayman & Boxster
Porsche really touched a nerve with purists when it announced that the new Cayman and Boxster would ditch naturally aspirated flat-six engines in favor of turbocharged boxer-fours. The loss of two cylinders and the addition of a turbocharger changed many aspects of the Cayman and Boxer, with one of the biggest complaints being that the two European sports cars sounded like Subarus. Complaints aside, the two new engines in the 718s are more powerful than the flat-sixes which preceded them. The 2.0-liter turbo-four found in the base models makes 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The 2.5-liter unit found in S trims is good for 350 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque. Each engine has 25 more horsepower than the flat-six it replaced. Fuel-efficiency is also up by 14 percent. At peak performance, the Cayman S will do 0-60 MPH in 4 seconds and hit a top speed of 177 MPH.
2. The Ford Mustang
Back in 2013 Ford announced that the sixth-generation Mustang, debuting in 2015, would get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Few could have predicted that by 2017 the Mustang’s V6 would be killed off, with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine becoming the entry-level power plant (and only other option to the 5.0-liter V8). Unlike past four-cylinder Mustangs this current edition is both powerful and fuel-efficient. It produces 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque and gets an EPA average 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Both of those numbers are better than what the V6 Mustang offers. The 2018 Mustang is on the way, and the refresh should bring some added power to the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The same engine in the Focus RS produces 345 horses.
1. The Jaguar F-Type
The new base model Jaguar F-Type is powered by the automaker’s Ingenium turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which makes 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Jag says the new four-cylinder F-Type will do 0-60 MPH in 5.4 seconds. The move to a smaller engine brings a host of benefits for the F-Type. The base model is now cheaper, with the coupe selling for $60,895 (a drop of $1,410) and the convertible going for $63,995 (a drop of $2,400). The four-cylinder model is also lighter than the V6 one by 144 pounds. The bad news is that there’s no manual transmission option, just an eight-speed automatic. Also, the new four-cylinder F-Type may lose the signature growl of its V6 and V8 counterparts and its exhaust note could be altered as well. One thing that downsizing hasn’t changed is the English sports car’s looks. It’s still as achingly gorgeous as ever.