Jorg-Urs Fuchs

Audi A1 project manager

The statement 'it is not the size of the engine, it's what you do with it that counts' is so obviously true for some people that they wrongly perceive it to be universally acknowledged and accepted as fact. This, however, is not the case. Many in the automotive industry are convinced that 'bigger is always better' and, in this era of OEMs continually downsizing their respective engines, are left somewhat saddened by what they are witnessing. 

According to Audi's project manager for the A1, Swiss-born Jörg-Urs Fuchs, the trend for increasingly smaller engines is being negatively perceived due, in part, to an image problem.

He explains: “At Audi, we call it 'rightsizing' rather than 'downsizing'. To be an engineer, we are trained to make everything better or faster, but nobody wants to be associated with going down. This is not a nice association, but rightsizing is much more positive.”

Fuchs and his team have had ample opportunity to use the more positive term given that recently, for the first time in the OEM’s history, they have developed a three-cylinder gasoline engine. Along with a new three-cylinder diesel, the entry-level gasoline unit has been added to the line-up of engines available for the A1 – now totalling six.

While downsizing or rightsizing will naturally play a key role in improving vehicle fuel economy, Audi is also exploring other options to achieve this. Cylinder-on-demand technology, for instance, features in a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine available for the A1. At lower speeds, the system temporarily deactivates two of the four cylinders by closing the respective valves. 

If the driver accelerates powerfully, it instantaneously switches back into four-cylinder mode. The system is capable of 110kW and 250Nm and has a fuel consumption figure of 5 litres/100km.

“From my personal view,” says Fuchs, “I think it is a really clever solution to have on offer. With a standard engine, if you just want to cruise and are not in a rush you end up using a lot of fuel unnecessarily.

“With cylinder-on-demand, it is a different story, but if you want to hurry up, you can make full use of the 110kW available.

“It is up to the driver how much fuel they use, so it is a very clever way to have both fuel efficiency and power.”

tags: Jan-Feb 2015 Audi Powertrain