October 29, 2005 In 1998 the Smart City Coupe was launched with its three-cylinder engines anticipating what is now just emerging as a downsizing trend in other makes of car: a small and economical engine employing a turbocharger (and charge air cooling) to boost it to the sort of power level which is expected of small cars today. Though old in terms of leading edge automotive concepts, smart’s three-cylinder petrol engine remains one of the most economical petrol-engines available today. But time stands still for no automotive manufacturer and with the smart’s ultra-short two-seater now sold in 36 countries (as the smart fortwo), there’s no doubt a huge and growing market exists and smart is currently developing the next-generation model for launch in 2007. Given that the smart was so far ahead of the pack last time, it will be interesting to see what the innovative company comes up with next time, and a huge clue was dropped yesterday Mitsubishi announced it had signed an agreement with smart to supply the turbo-charged engine it had developed for use in its i concept minicar.
MMC and DaimlerChrysler have been cooperating on various win-win projects in recent year, most notably the supply of the smart forfour engines and apparently the quality of the engines and economies of scale have substantially lowered costs for both partieson a per-unit basis.
The engines to be supplied are the natural aspirated and turbo-charged engines based on the engine developed for i and will be produced at MMC's powertrain production facility in Mizushima, Okayama Prefecture, Japan.
The Mitsubishi i engine is a brand new 3-cylinder intercooler-turbocharged, Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system (MIVEC) engine that pumps out a muscular 47 kW (64 PS) of power as it currently stands – 10 kW more than the standard smart engine. When engine tuner Brabus gets to work on the donk, we can expect close to 70kW for the higher perfromance units destined to emanate from the factory.
MIVEC technology is designed to offer power/performance and environmental friendliness and efficiency from the same engine. A dual-intake valve camshaft enables changing between low-speed and high-speed modes, resulting in easy operation from low to high revs. In low-speed mode, the difference in the dual-intake valve lift (low lift and medium lift) enhances combustion without compromising fuel economy, emissions, and torque.
In high-speed mode the intake valve opening times and lift increase to achieve a power output close to best in class. The MIVEC valve-train also delivers low fuel consumption and clean emissions over the full rev range of the engine. The use of a silent camshaft drive chain and high engine rigidity also reduce noise and vibration levels.