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The BMW i8’s 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid powertrain has taken out the title in the 17th International Engine of the Year awards, in the closest result to date.

BMW’s design ended the three-year reign of Ford’s runner-up 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder — seen in Australia in the Ford EcoSport SUV. Rounding out the podium was PSA’s 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol used here in cars such as the Peugeot 308.

It means that, interestingly, a trio of three-pots topped the table this year. A sign of the times, no doubt. More interestingly, across all 11 categories, not one diesel took out top spot in its class.

BMW i8 - 11

Judges praised the BMW i8’s “amazing green credentials”, notably its 2.1L//100km and 49g/km CO2 figures, and its “supercar-like performance”. The 1.5 turbo directs 170kW to the rear axle, and is paired with a 97kW electric motor sending torque to the front.

Together they produce an impressive 266kW of power and 570Nm of torque, sending the Batman-esque coupe from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. Read all about the BMW i8 here.

The International Engine of the Year Awards are broken up into 11 categories. The judging panels consists of 65 industry experts from a range of countries including Australia. The winners of each category are as follows:

Sub 1.0-litre

Ford’s 999cc EcoBoost, used in the EcoSport and Fiesta, along others.

1.0-litre to 1.4-litre

PSA 1.2 turbo three-cylinder, used in the Peugeot 208 and 308, and Citroen C4 Cactus among others.

1.4-litre to 1.8-litre

BMW 1.5 PHEV from the i8

1.8-litre to 2.0-litre

Mercedes-AMG 2.0 turbo, used on the A45 AMG, CLA45 AMG and GLA45 AMG

2.0-litre to 2.5-litre

Audi 2.5 five-cylinder turbo, used in the RS3 and RSQ3

2.5-litre to 3.0-litre

BMW 3.0-litre twin-turbo six, used in the M3 and M4 twins

3.0-litre to 4.0-litre

McLaren 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, used in the 650S and 675LT

Above 4.0-litre

Ferrari 4.5-litre V8, used in the 458 Italia and Speciale

Green Engine

Tesla’s full-electric powertrain from the Model S (not the i8, bizarrely)

New Engine

BMW 1.5 PHEV from the i8

Performance Engine

Ferrari 4.5-litre V8, used in the 458 Italia and Speciale