PARIS – Renault is introducing its new 1.2L 115-hp gasoline direct-injection engine with stop/start in the facelifted Megane initially for Europe, but the real target is the global market.

Some 93% of the Meganes sold in France are powered by diesels, a legacy of a tax policy that favored the fuel. But in the emerging markets Renault wants to conquer, Russia and China in particular, gasoline is the first choice.

Renault’s new family of gasoline engines, called Energy and led by the TCe 115, are world engines. In the Megane station wagon, the I-4 TCe 115 emits only 119 g/km of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 47 mpg (5 L/100 km).

The engine also meets Euro 5 standards taking effect soon and will be able to meet Euro 6 near the end of the decade, says Marc Sieliet, director-M1 platform cars that includes the Megane.

China may not have the same interest in the environment as does Europe, but “fuel efficiency is very important there,” as it imports the majority of its petroleum, he says. Renault recently announced alliance-partner Nissan will help it enter the Chinese market, as all Renault vehicles currently sold in China are imports.

The I-4 TCe 115 will be joined by a 3.0L version using the same components and built at the same factory in France. Sieliet says the 1.2L is the smallest gas engine that could be used for the Megane, whose competitors include the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

However, smaller Renaults, including the fourth-generation Clio to be introduced later this year, can use the 3-cyl. engine to achieve fuel efficiency with CO2 emissions under 100 g/km. Until now, only diesels have reached that level.

Renault engineers called on their experience with Formula 1 engine development, as well as expertise from Nissan, to accomplish their goal.

“Our 30-year commitment to the sport has enabled us to develop our downsizing expertise, combat friction and control cooling, all of which contribute to improving the energy efficiency of our vehicles without spoiling driving enjoyment,” Renault Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares says in a press release.

Philippe Coblence and Jean-Philippe Mercier, engineers who worked on Renault’s V-10 racing engine in the 1990s, ran the TCe 115 program and the parallel Energy dCi 130 diesel program.

The 3- and 4-cyl. gas engines were developed at the same time and will use most of the same components. However, the 3-cyl. mill requires some special parts to reduce vibration, says Yorick Duchaussoy, chief engineer on the TCe 115 program.

Gasoline is injected into the combustion chamber at 2,900 psi (200 bar), and turbo boost pressure reaches 29 psi (2 bar). Renault tried direct injection in an earlier engine program that was abandoned, but now has mastered the technology, Duchaussoy says.

The Energy engines are the first at Renault to use energy-recuperation and stop/start technology. The initial TCe gas engine is one of seven that will be offered in different markets. Renault will have seven different diesels, as well.

The TCe 115 in the basic 5-door Megane will cost E22,000 ($28,600) in France, while the same car with the Energy DCi 110 diesel will be priced at E24,300 ($32,000).

Duchaussoy says drivers who travel less than 9,321 miles (15,000 km) a year would spend less money over six years with the gas engine, considering its lower purchase price and the higher cost of fuel in France.

Diesel prices here are only slightly less expensive than gasoline, and the extra cost of a diesel engine will grow as more exhaust aftertreatment emissions-control systems are required, so Renault expects diesel penetration may be at its peak in Europe.

The new TCe engines will be manufactured at the auto maker’s plant in Valladolid, Spain, replacing the models currently built there. The aluminum engine block, which weighs 22 lbs. (10 kg) less than the iron block in the previous 110-hp engine, is cast at Renault’s French engine facility in Cleon and shipped to Spain.

Nissan engineers were elemental in setting up the foundry and understanding aluminum blocks and cylinder heads, Renault says.

The “square” design of the bore and stroke of the cylinders – 72.2 mm x 73.2 mm – is imported from Renault’s F1 experience, as it allows wider valves that improve breathing. Friction-reducing surface coatings also come from racing. They include a graphite coating on the piston skirts and a diamond-like coating on the cams.