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by Matt Campbell

General Motors has unveiled an all-new range of small-capacity engines that will power a number of global vehicles – including the next-generation Cruze small car.

The new modular Ecotec engine range will see 11 variations offered – the smallest of which will be a 1.0-litre three-cylinder, and the largest a 1.5-litre four-cylinder. Some will be naturally aspirated, while others will boast turbo technology for improved torque and efficiency. The engines are set to power “many of the company’s highest-volume small cars and compact crossovers”.

Depending on the engine, there will be a minimum power output of 56kW and a maximum of 123kW, while torque will range between 95Nm and 250Nm. GM claims the engines have also been readied for hybrid applications and to be powered by alternative fuels, while all of the new engines have been designed to run on regular unleaded rather than premium. The image above shows (from left) the new 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder, the 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four and the 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder.

The company claims the new engines will offer “leading-edge efficiency, refinement and durability” – it goes as far as to claim the new engines’ “noise intensity is up to 50 per cent quieter than Volkswagen‘s EA211 1.4L four-cylinder” seen in the Polo and Golf and up to “25 per cent quieter than Ford‘s 1.0L turbo three-cylinder [EcoBoost]” fitted to the Fiesta and EcoSport.

GM will offer the new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder in the Opel Adam in Europe, while the maker also confirmed the above 1.4-litre turbo and 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder powerplants will be seen under the bonnet of the new-generation Chevrolet Cruze (an iteration of which is seen below) in China which is set to be revealed late in 2014 and go on sale in that country shortly after.

Chevrolet Cruze 2222

Where that leaves the current Cruze and the hundreds of Australian workers who currently build the car in South Australia is unclear – Holden executive director of corporate affairs, George Svigos, said the new model revealed will be a China-specific car.

“The first iteration of the next-gen Cruze will be announced later this year in China.  This all-new 2015 Cruze was developed specifically for consumer tastes and needs in China,” Svigos said.

“Differentiated variants will be available in other markets.  We have no additional info about those variants to announce today,” Svigos said.

That new 1.4-litre turbo for the next-generation Cruze is said to offer 110kW and 235Nm, up 7kW and 35Nm on the current-generation Cruze’s 1.4-litre engine. The company claims fuel use will be bettered by “up to five per cent”, and that the engine is set to debut a new dual-clutch automatic transmission in China. The 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder is rated at 84kW and 146Nm – considerably less than the 1.8-litre engine currently seen in the Cruze which has 104kW and 175Nm.

There’s no word yet on when Australia can expect the first examples of the new modular Ecotec powerplants – or the new-generation Cruze, for that matter – but GM vice president of global powertrain engineering Steve Kiefer said the range “will make its way into five GM brands and 27 models by the 2017 model year”.




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