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Hyundai previews new hybrid-ready drivetrain

Atkinson, I presume: one of the oldest engine types in the world, the Atkinson cycle engine favours economy over power, and is used by several manufacturers in petrol/electric hybrid applications, including Toyota in the Prius.

Hyundai’s new 1.6-litre petrol engine and eight-speed auto to slot into Prius rival

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Hyundai logo29 Oct 2015

HYUNDAI has taken a step closer to producing a dedicated hybrid car to rival Toyota’s dominant Prius, and petrol-electric variants across key model lines, with the announcement of a new engine at its annual powertrain conference in Seoul this week.

Dubbed the Kappa GDI 1.6, the all-new engine is built around the principle of the Atkinson cycle, which favours fuel economy over power output.

Originally created in the late 1800s, the Atkinson-cycle engine has come back into favour in the past decade, thanks mainly to its ability to burn less fuel.

By configuring the cylinder intake valve to remain open for a longer duration, the engine can make much better use of the air volume entering the combustion chamber during the ignition phase.

While the engine is more mechanically efficient, it is inherently less powerful than a more traditional Otto-cycle engine. Supplementing the power loss with a secondary power source like an electric motor, however, gives a car-maker the best of both worlds: performance and economy.

Hyundai’s new naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine also adds modern fuel-saving techniques like exhaust gas regeneration and a relatively long piston stroke to high-end technology like split thermostat cooling (where the cylinder head and block cooling circuits are operated independently) and high-pressure fuel injection.

Its laser-drilled six-hole injectors are capable of operating at 200bar (or 2900psi) which, according to Hyundai, maximises its fuel combustion capabilities.

The all-alloy motor will be built in one specification, and produce 77kW of power and 157Nm of torque.

Hyundai uses similar-sized transverse-mounted four-cylinder engines across its range, giving the Korean car-maker the ability to offer a hybrid powertrain across many of its vehicle lines including – but not limited to – the i20 light hatch, i30 small car, Tucson SUV and even the Veloster sportscar.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced the pending arrival of an all-new eight-speed traditional automatic transmission to replace its six-speed unit in front-drive applications.

The eight-speeder adds a second clutch in a new configuration that allows for wider-cut gears. This, says Hyundai, improves the NVH quality and improves fuel economy by 7.3 per cent over the six-speed unit currently in use.

Despite the additional cogs and clutch, the transmission weighs 3.5kg less than the six-speeder.

Hyundai has also redesigned and simplified the internal oil pump and solenoid controls, and added a multi-plate (as opposed to a single plate) torque converter, which allows for a wider lock-up range and a quicker response time.

“Coupled with better driveability and smoothness of the wider gear span, Hyundai Motor will present a powerful new option with its Lambda, Theta turbo GDI, and R family engines, targeting the large and luxury car segments,” the company said.

Both the engine and transmission will be seen in action in early 2016, according to Hyundai.

However, the local arm of the company was noncommittal about the potential of the new powertrain parts in local vehicles.

“As with all Hyundai products launched in overseas markets – and all future products – Hyundai Australia teams are evaluating their relevance for the local market closely,” said public relations general manager Bill Thomas.

“We are listened to closely by our parent company, because our market is one of the most competitive in the world, and we’re doing very well here. It’s too early to comment on specifics, but it’s something we’re evaluating."About 1100 participants attended the annual powertrain conference in Seoul, including a raft of automotive companies such as Bosch, Continental, Delphi, Denso and Magna Powertrain.

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