If you had suggested 30 years ago that today we would happily be driving around in cars with only three or even two cylinders and capacities of 1.0-litre or less, you would probably have been met with a shake of the head.
Or worse, perhaps a disparaging gesture indicating that possibly there was a screw loose somewhere.
But here we are in 2013, heaping praise on small engines for both the way they drive and their frugality.
As I write this there is an Alfa Romeo Mito TwinAir sitting in the drive. I used it to give a lift to friends who couldn’t believe there was such a tiny 875cc, 85hp engine performing with such gusto.
The friends, incidentally, are recent converts to Ford; she owns a Fiesta and he a Focus after years of driving a Porsche Boxster and Saab 95, such is the power of peer recommendations!
But it’s the Ford 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine that really wows. Although built in Cologne, the engine was developed by Ford engineers at its technical centre in Dunton, Essex.
It’s a good UK plc story and should be mentioned every time any journo writes about any Ford product using a UK-built engine. As Ford points out, Britain leads its European product development of engines and transmissions with up to 2m engines including the 1.6 EcoBoost assembled at Bridgend (below), and Dagenham.
Not only that, the EcoBoost production facility at Cologne was designed in Dunton using Ford’s Virtual Manufacturing laboratory. It’s a message that needs to be repeated.
I had a lively discussion last week with a couple of friends in the village. I was trying to explain the industry rationale behind engine downsizing. They were having none of it.
One wants to change his wife’s Merc C-Class after she dinged the door on the driveway gate thus accelerating the decision to trade it in and is looking at another Merc, BMW or Audi.
He was urged to buy British by our mutual friend who drives a Rover 75 estate and is thinking of changing it for a UK-built Nissan or Toyota. The conversation went round in circles for several minutes.
“How about the Jaguar XF Sportbrake?” asked friend No 1. It doesn’t quite fit the downsizing criteria but at least it is British.