Technology

Has Infiniti Just Revealed The Most Important Engine Of 2016?

It may look like a humble turbo-four, but this motor's an engineering masterpiece.

Over the last few years, a whole range of technologies have been introduced to improve the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. Stop/start and cylinder deactivation systems are probably the most obvious examples of this, with Volvo's turbolag-reducing 'PowerPulse' as featured in the S90 and V90 getting an honorable mention. Perhaps the biggest gongs of all, though, will be reserved for Infiniti, as it's just announced a new and extremely clever family of gasoline engines.

Officially dubbed a 'VC-T' (or 'Variable Compression - Turbocharged), this new engine is brandished with a whole range of incredibly impressive claims. A lot of that is down to the way in which the compression ratio (which determines how much of the car engine cylinder's volume is taken up by the piston at the bottom and top of its stroke) fluctuates, depending on what's being demanded for it. For instance, if the engine's myriad systems detects the car is just cruising about, it can raise the compression ratio up to 14:1 to improve the engine's efficiency, and vice versa to 8:1 in a situation where more power is required.

Amazingly, this system doesn't come with a weight or size penalty - according to Infiniti, a VC-T engine is "lighter and more compact than a comparable conventional engine," and is also claimed to come with the extra benefits of "reduced noise and vibration levels." Alas, the power and economy figures this turbocharged four-cylinder range will be capable of remains unknown, and it's unclear which models will be fitted with such an engine (our guess would be QX30, Q50 and Q60), but Infiniti has revealed it will disclose additional details during the upcoming Paris Motor Show. It can be safely assumed, however, that the VC-T could be the most important piece of technology to be showcased at the 2016 Mondial de l'Automobile.

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