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GM debuts new turbo three-pot in Opel Adam

Adam out: The Opel Adam will not be coming to Australia, but the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine under its bonnet could end up powering future Holdens.

Three-cylinder engine for Opel Adam could wind up in future GM global product

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Opel logo19 Feb 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

GENERAL Motors has released details for its 1.0-litre three-cylinder powerplant that will debut in the updated Adam city-car at next month’s Geneva motor show, adding to the car-maker’s new family of small displacement engines.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged ‘Ecotec’ petrol unit will be available in the Adam in two tunes, 66kW and 85kW both delivering 166Nm of torque from 1800rpm.

While the Adam is not coming to Australia thanks to Opel’s decision to withdraw its local operation after just 12 months of sales, the perky little three-cylinder engine is likely to end up in other GM models down the track.

Arch rival Ford already has its own 92kW/170Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine under the bonnet of a number of models, including the Fiesta and Focus. Called EcoBoost, it has won the International Engine of the Year award two years in a row.

GM’s tiny triple was developed at Opel’s International Technical Development Centre in Russelsheim, Germany, and the company said in a statement that it will deliver “benchmark refinement with outstandingly low noise and vibrations for a three-cylinder motor that are even superior to many four-cylinder units”.

Opel chief engineer for small gasoline engines Matthias Alt said the German brand worked from a blank sheet of paper in developing the new engine, working hard to eliminate some of the quirks that can be found with a three-cylinder unit.

“We not only set out to minimize fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, we also wanted to demonstrate that three cylinders can be just as refined as four or more,” he said.

“We tackled at source the balance, noise and vibration issues typical of conventional three-cylinder engines, and we’re confident ADAM customers will be enthusiastic about the results.”

In the Adam, the 66kW engine delivers fuel economy figures of 4.3 litres per 100 kilometres on the European cycle and CO2 emissions of 99g/km, undercutting Australian cycle figures for the 1.0-litre three-cylinder Volkswagen Up (4.9L/100km) and the manual version of Mitsubishi’s 1.2-litre three-pot Mirage (4.6L/100km).

Those figures are for the variant with idle stop technology and matched with GM’s newly developed six-speed manual gearbox which is 30 per cent lighter than the unit it replaces and will eventually be rolled out across Opel and Vauxhall’s line-up.

The three-cylinder marks the next phase in GM’s plan to develop a family of small displacement petrol engines and follows on from the 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines that debuted last year in models such as the Opel Cascada coupe and Zafira mini people-mover.

More powerplants are planned as a part of the SGE (Small Gasoline Engine) family, with engines ranging in size between 1.0- and 1.6-litres likely to end up powering a number of global GM models.

Models in Holden’s current line-up that could gain the three-cylinder unit include the Barina and Barina Spark light hatches, the Trax sub-compact crossover and even the next-gen Cruze.

Aside from the locally-built Cruze and Commodore, Holden currently sources most of its passenger car product from GM South Korea, but reports have suggested that the Lion brand could return to European-sourced models following the closure of local manufacturing operations in 2017.

Opel’s premature withdrawal from the Australian market last year after just 12 months gave Holden a greater chance of sourcing European product and if this goes ahead, the new-generation small capacity engines will almost certainly end up powering future Holden models.

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