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Fiat 1.4L Multiair Turbo Wins Best New Engine of 2010 Award

Calling Fiat’s MultiAir (earlier post) “the single most innovative engine technology to appear in the past 12 months”, the Awards judging panel for the International Engine of Year Awards has selected the 1.4L Multiair Turbo the Best New Engine of 2010.

MultiAir employs an electrohydraulic system to independently control each cylinder’s inlet air charge. Depending on the driving situation, there are five main modes of inlet valve timing and lift, but in principle MultiAir enables infinitely variable control of the inlet valves.

The system enables the delivery of increases power and torque while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Fiat Powertrain Technologies, which developed and patented the system, claims that, compared with a traditional gasoline engine of the same displacement, a MultiAir unit brings up to 10% more power and 15% more torque, while improving fuel economy by up to 10% and reducing emissions, whether they be CO2 (-10%), particulate matter (-40%) or NOx (-60%).

Fiat plans to roll MultiAir out across additional engine families, with the next to benefit being an anticipated two-cylinder turbo, which is on track to offer 105 bhp, the panel noted.

The Green Engine of the Year Award went to Toyota for the new 1.8L Atkinson-cycle unit in the new Prius and in the Auris. Other award-winning engines included:

2010 International Engine of the Year Awards
Best Performance Engine Mercedes-AMG 6.2 Liter
Sub 1-Liter Toyota 3-cylinder, 1-liter
1-liter to 1.4-liter Volkswagen 1.4-liter TSI Twincharger
1.4-liter to 1.8-liter BMW-PSA 1.6-liter Turbo
1.8-liter to 2-liter BMW 2-liter Twin-Turbo Diesel
2-liter to 2.5-liter Audi 2.5-liter five-cylinder Turbo
2.5-liter to 3-liter BMW 3-liter DI Twin-Turbo
2-liter to 4-liter BMW 4-liter V8
Above 4-liter Mercedes-AMG 6.2-liter

Judged by a panel of 65 motoring journalists from 32 countries, the Awards highlight and acknowledge engine engineering excellence. The Awards are organized by Engine Technology International, published by UKIP Media & Events, which also publish a number of other automotive titles.



This is really a win-win-win-win-win-win engine. A down-sized version could be well suited for PHEVs gensets. Not too many Big-3 engines on the list?

Nick Lyons


Beg to differ. Gensets don't need fancy (expensive) variable-lift valve trains, which are designed to accommodate the multiple load profiles of the automobile drive cycle. Running a generator just needs an ICE optimized for one or two load points.


I tend to favor small, light, simple and cheap for a genset engine. It would have nothing that is not needed for the task at hand, to turn the alternator at speed under load.


They talk about a 900cc 2 cylinder engine which could make a good genset.
Remember, if the thing is driven by software, it doesn't really matter how complicated or otherwise the valve program is, it just handles it.
If you get the production volume up for cars, you can have plenty available at low cost as range extenders.


The world cannot stick with basic 1900 ICE engines forever. Of course, high efficiency may mean more complex configuration but that may be the price to pay for reduce fuel consumption and much smaller engine size and weight.


The Tzero trailer had a 2 cylinder motorcycle engine. Not the best choice, but easy to implement. I remember seeing a Volt demonstration where the driver was waiting for the engine to come on, he had to read the dash because it was so quiet. That is the way it should be, low vibration and no noise so that it comes on like your refrigerator and no one pays attention.

Richard Burton

SJC; I would suggest that the real test for a Volt will be not when the engine is idling, but when it revs up to 3500 rpm or at highway speeds this may be of little notice, but what about around town when the battery is low? GM in the past has not built very smooth 4 cylinder engines to my knowledge.


You would set the engine output according to circumstance. I doubt GM will have the 1.4l revving at 3000 rpm at a stop light.

Richard Burton

SJC; one would hope so, but funny that we are speculating this close to production, and that every "peek" road test that I have seen is either on battery only, or doesn't mention what the engine sounds like! Perhaps they are desperately trying to get the noise,vibration,harshness to an acceptable level at this late date...I still recall riding in an early model Ford Escape Hybrid and found the noise unacceptable, reminiscent of a dynaflow Buick or motorboat sound...


I would like to see a very sophisticated, light weight, low hp, range extender that has high efficiency, 4 or more cylinders, VVT, OHC etc

But it would be too expensive.

The Volt aims for just about the simplest, cheapest ICE that will provide enough power for seamless transfer between EV and ICE. That’s what they think the people want.

They might be right on target and the Volt might be also.
Will they sell all they make ?
Because it so good?
Because they won’t make many.

A road test with observations and opinions on the two modes - from way back in November 2009 is here:

Google said it took me all of 0.136 seconds to find it.

They want the engine to be really quiet because it won’t follow the throttle; it will react to past power usage and state of charge. Eerie?
No, not to me, but …

Roger Pham

All right, the Fiat Multi-air technology will be perfect for HEV serial-parallel hybrid Atkinson-cycle engines.

"...Wish they could all be HEV's..." (singing to the Beach Boys' tune...)


A sustainer engine wouldn't need the VVT for throttling, so the valve train could be much simpler and cheaper. It could still use turbocharging and the Miller cycle, though. Recovering excess exhaust energy via a turboalternator is an obvious step for PHEV applications.


I like the turbocharger/alternator idea. It adds some cost but would be nice. Direct injection would get torque at low RPMs, but adds cost too.


Yes. That's the sad truth.
The turbocharger/alternator and direct injection, even OHC might not provide the most mpg/$.

Let's hope an aluminum block and head are warranted but
even the amortization of a NEW cheap, light ICE might not be.

With prices before rebate still at $40k, mpg/$ is all important.


It seems like you would want the engine to follow the normal rev pattern. You would idle at 800 rpm and cruise at 2400 rpm. It would depend on vehicle speed and state of charge, but with lots of batteries you should be able to keep the batteries at a proper charge without extremes.

Perhaps you would want an engine that makes all of its torque and most of its horsepower at lower RPMs. This is the opposite of most small engines that may not get their maximum torque and horsepower until above 3000 rpm. They want to keep costs down, so direct injection and turbochargers are not part of the plan.


DI gives you thermal efficiency, though.

Not having to throttle gives options; transient response and idling become non-issues. Reducing a 4-cylinder 4-cycle engine to a 2-cylinder 2-cycle piston-ported uniflow engine with DI cuts the displacement by half and the valve count by 3/4. Spinning up the turbo-alternator electrically gives the initial airflow for starting, and late exhaust valve closure produces an asymmetric compression and expansion ratio. DI prevents unburned fuel going out the exhaust. Size, friction and parts count are way down.

An engine like that might be useless except in a narrow power band, but sustainers don't need to operate outside one.


The multi-air system looks very simple and inexpensive to make compared to other VVT systems. Thus it can be made a standard feature. Chrysler could benefit from it...

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