Special Report

Ward’s 10 Best Engines

Longtime admirers of Audi AG’s engineering expertise, we’ve always said Audi, more than any other auto maker of the last 20 years, has been the avatar of advanced engine technologies later adopted for mainstream application.

No better case makes the point than the FSI 2.0L DOHC I-4, winning a 10 Best Engines award for the third consecutive year since its launch in 2006. The power-dense, fuel-sipping FSI 2.0L – which Audi has had in production since 2004 and couldn’t be righter for the times – is the engine many auto makers only now say they’re gearing up to emulate.

Audi says it was the first to combine gasoline direct-injection technology (Fuel Straight Injection, or FSI, to Audi and parent Volkswagen AG) with turbocharging for a volume-production engine.

The power- and efficiency-enhancing qualities of GDI fueling are becoming legendary, and almost every major auto maker has in production engines using GDI or plan to do so, using the technology as a cornerstone in their strategies to improve fuel economy in light of looming new Corporate Average Fuel Economy legislation.

That sounds good to the geeks in lab coats, but those with octane in their veins are equally pleased with what Audi’s wrought here. The GDI system righteously pumps up torque, particularly at low engine speeds, the only time when turbochargers aren’t earning their keep.

Throttle response is horsewhip sharp and satisfying even off idle, a characteristic nobody led us to believe was going to be common with “downsized” engines.

A 4-cyl. with a power peak at 5,100 rpm might be cause to worry, but thanks to dual balance shafts and the old-school iron engine block that keeps sound from the combustion bangs where they belong, we’d put this seamless engine’s noise, vibration and harshness signature up against just about any V-6.

In almost any driving situation, the FSI 2.0 acts more like a midsize V-6, and the 200 hp output is 10 hp better, for example, than the first-generation Nissan VQ 3.0L V-6 that was a slayer motor if ever there was one.

“One hundred horsepower per liter, GDI and good fuel economy – no brainer,” sums up Best Engines judge Byron Pope.

If downsizing is the future and this is downsizing, then we’re “down” with it, Audi.

Ward’s 10 Best Engines is copyright Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Ward’s Automotive Group.