Sometimes, a big engine just isn’t necessary. These small-engined cars prove it.

As much as we love a roaring V8 or a powerhouse V12, it’s time to show some appreciation for the little engines.

Enthusiasts may look to overzealous, high-displacement engines for an example of automotive innovation but in reality, bigger isn’t always better. For instance, is the 6.5-litre V12 in a Lamborghini Murciélago better than the 3.5-litre V6 in the Ford GT? Well, on paper, the GT’s V6 produces around the same amount of horsepower (depending on the model year) as the Murciélago’s engine that’s essentially double the size.

2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition

One could argue that the Ford GT’s engine is much more modern and therefore has the benefit of modern-day technology and engineering advancements but the thing is, the Jaguar XJ220 also had a very potent 3.5-litre V6 that produced 542 hp. And this was back in the early 90s.

So, what is the point of ‘big’ engines? Is it just so the owner can brag about the displacement or the number of cylinders? We’ve found a few examples of big cars that are produced with small engines and while the results are not always as impressive as the Ford GT’s or the Jaguar XJ220’s small V6, a smaller engine still usually results in improved fuel efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz GLB (and GLA) – 1.3-litre

Mercedes-Benz GLB

Both the Mercedes GLB SUV and GLA crossover are available with a 1.3-litre engine, developed by Renault and Nissan. With 4 cylinders and producing around 160hp, this is certainly a small engine in a large car. This kind of tiny engine in a luxury SUV makes us wonder if it is simply used to entice people into dealerships to then be sold on a more expensive model with a larger engine.

Skoda Karoq – 1.0-litre


With just 113 horsepower to play with, we can’t say that buying a 1.0-litre Karoq is a good idea. The Karoq is also sold with larger engine sizes and considering the car is pretty large, especially for a ‘small SUV’, the tiny 3-cylinder engine finds itself in a place it really shouldn’t be.

Ford Mondeo – 1.0-litre

Ford Mondeo hybrid

People may not like it but the EcoBoost engine is really proving itself these days. You can buy an EcoBoost Ford GT, an EcoBoost Ford Mustang and so obviously it makes sense that an EcoBoost Mondeo exists. A saloon that’s the size of a BMW 3 Series, including all four doors, is powered by a 123 hp 3-cylinder 1.0-litre engine. Incredible.

Peugeot 5008 – 1.2-litre

Peugeot 5008

The 5008 is a real full-size SUV with 7 seats and despite having a tiny 1.2-litre engine, it arguably has the most impressive performance of all the cars mentioned so far, given its sheer size. Capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in just 9.9 seconds, the 5008 proves that you don’t need a big engine for adequate performance.

Performance cars

Koenigsegg Gemera

One honourable mention that is a little more exciting than the average car is the Koenigsegg Gemera. Although this may be cheating as the Gemera is mostly an electric-powered vehicle, the minuscule 2.0-litre engine produces a whopping 600 horsepower through pure engineering magic.

Another car to consider is the upcoming AMG One, which will use a modified version of the V6 from the Mercedes F1 cars. The engine will produce a staggering 748 horsepower and will redline at 11,000 rpm.

Engines do not have to be big to do their job and in many cases, everyday cars are using engines that are simply overkill for what they’re used for and these big cars with small engines prove that big power units aren’t all that necessary!

Let us know your thoughts, in the comments.

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