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What Engine Size Do I Need?

Navigating the diverse array of car engines available can seem daunting. That’s why we’re here to break down each engine type and its applicability to your driving habits. From compact 1.0L engines to powerhouses above 3.0L, we’ve got the details you need.


1.0-Litre Engines

1.0-litre engines, prevalent in small city cars and compact SUVs, are typically three to four-cylinder configurations, and some now feature turbochargers for increased power. Despite not being the most potent, these engines deliver zippy and efficient transport.

Such engines are usually less polluting but can sometimes offer lower economy on highways as they need to exert more to reach high speeds. Cars featuring these engines, like the Renault Clio, are great for school runs or quick grocery store trips.


1.4-Litre to 1.6-Litre Engines

1.4 to 1.6-litre engines strike a balance between power and efficiency. Ideal for both short trips and long motorway journeys, they have commendable fuel economy, saving you frequent trips to the petrol station.

These engines are a good fit if you often make shorter commutes and occasionally embark on long journeys. Slightly larger in size, they offer quieter operation and improved power for overtaking. The compromise might be a slight dip in fuel economy. Hatchbacks, like the Suzuki Swift, often sport such engines.


1.8-Litre to 2.0-Litre Engines

Offering considerably more power, 1.8-2.0L engines find their place in a wide range of body types, including saloons and coupes. Their larger size doesn’t necessarily translate to higher running costs or impaired combined economy.

These engines are an excellent choice for those who predominantly drive on motorways. Cars like the Mercedes E-Class Saloon, which feature these engines, provide a comfortable and fantastic drive. However, they might not be ideal for stop/start urban journeys.


2.0-Litre to 3.0-Litre Engines

Found in larger saloons and SUVs, 2.0 to 3.0L engines deliver an impressive amount of power, perfect for towing. Despite higher fuel consumption than smaller engines, they offer serious power output.

Cars like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, or Audi Q5 feature these engines, delivering a dynamic and comfortable driving experience. Their performance makes them ideal for long motorway journeys where overtaking power and high-speed stability are essential.


3.0-Litre + Engines

Engines above 3.0L, typically housing six to 12 cylinders, are a top choice for high-performance cars and large SUVs. Although they boast enormous power, they come with hefty running costs.

An important aspect of these engines is their performance-oriented nature. Vehicles equipped with these engines are designed to deliver exhilarating speed and acceleration. Examples include sports cars like the Porsche 911 with a twin-turbo 3.0L six-cylinder engine or the Mercedes-AMG GT with a 4.0L V8.


Hybrid Engines

Hybrid and plug-in hybrid engines come in various sizes, with cars like the Toyota Prius featuring a 1.8L engine alongside an electric motor. Their dual energy source leads to reduced emissions and lower running costs. 

The different types of hybrid engines include:

  • Full Hybrids: Also known as ‘self-charging’ hybrids, these cars combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. The electric motor can power the vehicle independently at low speeds, which is beneficial for city driving or stop-start traffic. The most notable example of this type is the Toyota Prius.
  • Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs): These hybrids offer a larger electric battery that can be charged externally, hence the name “plug-in”. They can usually travel a considerable distance (20-50 miles) on electric power alone before the petrol or diesel engine kicks in. This makes them excellent for short commutes where charging infrastructure is available. Models like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Volvo XC90 T8 embody this type.
  • Mild Hybrids (MHEVs): These vehicles feature a smaller battery that cannot power the vehicle on its own but assists the combustion engine, improving efficiency. Mild hybrids often use a system that recovers energy usually lost during braking, storing it for later use. The Suzuki Swift SHVS is an example of this type.

The main advantages of hybrid engines include better fuel efficiency and lower emissions compared to traditional petrol or diesel engines. Their ability to run purely on electric power at lower speeds also makes them ideal for city driving. Additionally, hybrid cars typically have lower tax rates due to their reduced CO2 emissions.

However, they are generally more expensive upfront than their petrol or diesel counterparts. The driving range for PHEVs on electric power alone is limited compared to full EVs, and charging infrastructure may be a consideration depending on where you live or travel.


In choosing your next car, several factors should influence your decision, including running costs, journey type, speed, emission zone costs, fuel economy, performance, and tax.

So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to car engine sizes. For more information and news, check out our blog

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