An engine's size and power can be described in many ways; displacement, horsepower and torque, bore and stroke, output; the list could go on and on. You can also describe an engine by the number of cylinders it has. In most cases you will find the super and muscle cars will have the bigger engines, with higher cylinder numbers. Bugatti takes the cake with its Veyron EB16.4 which has 16 cylinders, the most cylinders in a production car. But in this case, on this list, bigger is not better.
According to History.com the first four-cylinder gas engine was invented by a man named Andrew Riker. Riker, an engineer, also a race car driver, was called upon to help create a gas-powered engine to compete with the impractical steam powered Locomobiles. The steam powered Locomobiles required steam, in addition to kerosene and gasoline and could only be driven consecutively for about thirty minutes before having to replenish the water for steam. In 1902 the first gas powered Locomobile was sold, creating just 12 hp. A few years later an upgraded version of the Locomobile, the four cylinders now creating 124 hp, was the first American car to win an international race.
Engine builders are finding ways to crank more horsepower and torque put of these little four bangers, add some forced induction and now things really get interesting. The next 20 cars (with one exception) are packing quite the punch with their little 4 cylinders, leaving V8’s in the dust. (Cars are not listed in any particular order)
20 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Alfa Romeo Giulia was introduced to the world last year in 2017, and according to Car and Driver, not much has changed this year. The Giulia has a starting price tag of $39,440, with lots of fancy add on features like the “Driver Assist Dynamic Plus” for an additional cost of course.
The rear-wheel drive Giulia has a 2.0-liter turbo charged engine thats capable of making 280hp at 5,200 rpm and 306 lb/ft of torque at 2,000 rpm.
The 2.0's zero-to-60 time is 5.7 seconds and can run a quarter mile in 14.3 seconds.
19 2019 Chevy Camaro 2.0T
The newest car on the list is the 2019 Camaro LT 2.0T, also known as the Camaro LTE. The new rear-wheel drive LTE comes with a turbocharged 2.0 liter that makes 275 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque. The new engine is capable of 0-to-60 in 5.4 seconds. Some mentionable features on the LTE is the use of its big brother, the SS Camaro's suspension and coming standard with a set of Brembo’s. No official price tag is yet to be released but our friends over at Car and Driver expect it to be less than $32,000.
18 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost
The 2018 EcoBoost ditched the previously used 3.7 V6 now having an all new 2.3 turbocharged 4 banger that makes 310 hp and 350 lb/ft of torque. Another mentionable upgrade is the new driving mode, drag strip, which according to Car and Driver is supposed to enhance it's acceleration.
The Ecoboost does zero-to-60 mph in 5.1 seconds and runs a quarter mile in 13.7.
The starting price seems like a steal at only $26,675, but Ford offers a whole lot of add that could quickly rack that bill up. The Ecoboost Performance package costing $2495, upgrade to the Raptors 10 speed tranny for another $1695 and tack on another $2,000 for the Equipment Group 101A.
17 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster
The Porsche 718 Boxster is next on the list with a starting price of $57,400 This year the Boxster’s has two engine options, both being 4 cylinders. The turbocharged 2.0 flat four produces 300 hp at 6500 rpm and 280 lb/ft of torque at just 1950 rpm. The new GTS model receives a turbocharged 2.5-liter produces 250 hp and 309 lb/ft of torque. The 2.0 paired with the 6-speed manual transmission does zero-to-sixty in 4.4 seconds, the 2.5-liter with a dual clutch automatic transmission does it just 3.6 according to Car and Driver.
16 2018 Honda Civic Type R
Making its debut is the US last year, the Honda Civic Type R which is a performance edition of the 10th generation Civic hatchback.
It was an instant sensation, already claiming a spot on Car and Drivers 2018 10 Best car list.
The starting price of $34,990 keeps it cheapest amongst its competitors; the Ford Focus RS, VW Golf R and Subaru WRX STI, which are all mentioned on this list. The front-wheel drive Type R comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter VTECH making 306 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque, capable of zero-to sixty in five seconds flat, and a quarter mile time of 13.7 seconds.
15 2018 Audi S3
The all-wheel drive Audi A3 has a turbocharged 2.0 liter that creates 220 hp at 4500, and 258 lb/ft of torque at 1600 rpm. The A3 has a top speed of 130 mph and do zero-to-60 in 5.8 seconds, while still get almost 30 mpg according to Car and Driver. Capitalizing in safety the A3 received the “5-Star Overall Safety Rating” from the “National Traffic Safety Association New Car Assessment Program.” In addition to being a 2018 Top Safety when the LED headlight option is added according to Audi. The starting price of the Prestige package is $40,700.
14 2018 Ford Focus RS
The 2018 Ford Focus RS will be celebrating is last year of production this year, with only 1,000 to be sold in the US and another 500 in Canada according to Car and Driver.The limited-edition car will have starting price of $41,995. The RS2 package, previously an added feature, now comes standard on the 2018, but don’t worry there’s still lots of additional upgrades you can tack on for an additional price.
The all-wheel drive RS has a turbo charged 2.3-liter creates 350 hp with 350 lb/ft of torque to match.
The RS runs from zero-to-60 in 4.7 and a quarter mile in 13.5 seconds.
13 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG
The GLA45 AMG up next on the list, with a price tag of $71,185, the base model price costing significantly less at $51,595. The CLA45 has a hand built turbocharged 2.0 four-cylinder engine that makes 375 hp and makes a max torque of 350 ft/lb. The all new twin-scroll turbocharger can withstand up to 26.1 psi of boost according to Car and Driver. The GLA45 can run a quarter mile in 12.5 second with a top speed of 167.5 mph and a zero to sixty in just four seconds flat. Mercedes-AMG’s four-cylinder engine has one of the highest outputs out there, even higher than the Bugatti Chiron, now those are bragging rights.
12 2018 Volkwagen Golf R
The Volkswagen Golf R has a starting price of $40,635, fully loaded it will cost you $41,295. The award-winning Volkswagen Golf clinches another 10 best awards this year, adding another notch to its belt according to Car and Driver. The Golf R comes with an inline four cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, capable of making 292 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque. The Golf R zero-to-60 in 4.8 seconds with a quarter mile time of 13.4. A few mentionable upgrades for the Golf R worth mentioning in the automatic transmission received an extra gear, now a 7-speed, but the most impressive is the 6 year/72,000 new car warranty that Volkswagen now offers.
11 2018 WRX STI
The first WRX was born in 1992, a higher performance version of the Impreza, the STI (Subaru Tecnica International) later being offered two years later according to Top Speed.
The STI was more powerful and received upgrades to the brakes, transmission and Subaru’s famous all-wheel drive suspension.
Sounds all too good to be true, and up until 2002 it was for the US, when it Japan finally decided to bring it to the states. The WRX STI currently comes with a turbocharged 2.5-liter produces 310 hp at 6,000 rpms and 290 lb/ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
10 2018 Jaguar F-Type 2.0T
Late to jump on the 2.0-liter bandwagon, Jaguar releases their own version of the popular turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. This is Jaguars first ever four-cylinder engine, according to Car and Driver, and is capable of making 296 hp at 5,500 rpm and 295 lb/ft of max torque at 1,500. The 2.0T only come in rear-wheel drive with an automatic transmission. It can reach a top speed of 155 mph and do zero-to-sixty in 5.4 seconds. The F-type is now more “affordable” with option to have the smaller engine; dropping the base price this year to $60,895
9 Mazda RX8
The only naturally aspired motor to make the list isn’t technically a four-cylinder, its a two-rotor, but its liter size makes it comparable and worth mentioning. The Mazda RX 8 established in year 2007 had a 5 year of production, and costed $32,260 in its last year in 2011. Mazda, known for their rotary engines, manufactured a new 13B twin-rotor Renesis engine for the RX8. The new Renesis, a 1.3-liter two-rotor engine can create 232 hp at 8,500 rpm and 159 lb/ft of torque at 5,500 rpm.
8 Mitsubishi Evo X
Launched in 2008, later discontinued in 2015, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, was also known as the Evo X. The Evo X had a 2.0-liter turbo charged engine creating 295 hp at 6,500 rpm and 270 lb/ft of torque at 3500 rpm.
The all-wheel drive Evo X can reach a top speed of 150 mph according to Auto Evolution.
The Evo X celebrated its last year by releasing 1,600 US and 1,000 Japan “Evo X Final Edition” with upgrades to its turbo, intake and fuel management system producing 303 hp and 305 lb/ft of torque according to Motor Trend. Number 1,600 was sold for $76,400, more than double its original price tag of $37,995.
7 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman
Next on the list, making is debut in 2009, is a the all-wheel drive John Cooper Works Mini Countryman. John Cooper Works (JCW) is a performance company owned by Michael Cooper, son on John Cooper; the founder of the original Mini. JCW is the manufacturer of BMW’s New Mini performance parts. The 2018 receives and upgraded turbocharged 2.0-liter produces 228 hp at 5,000 rpm and 258 lb/ft of torque at a ridiculous 1450 rpm according to Car and Driver.
6 Eagle Talon TSI
The next on the list is known as three different cars. The Eagle Talon TSI was also known as the Plymouth Laser KS in addition to being known as the Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX. Mitsubishi was responsible for the engineering and Chrysler did all the styling at “Diamond Star” a company owned by both companies according to AllPar.com. The TSI made Car and Drivers “Ten Best Cars” list the first three years it was produced. The all-wheel drive TSI had a turbocharged 2.0-liter that could make 210 hp at 6,000 rmp and 214 ft/lb of torque at 3,000 rpm.
5 Honda s2000
The Honda S2000 had a ten-year production run after being introduced to the world in 2000, an updated 2018 model was released earlier this year to celebrate Honda’s 70thbirthday.
The S2000 received some mentionable upgrades in 2004, including adjusting the gear ratio according to Car and Driver.
By doing so the VTECH increased the torque from a previous 153 lb/ft of torque at 7500 rpm to 162 lb/ft at 6500 rpm. The 2.2-liter created the same 240 hp, but now created at 7800 rpm down from the previous VTECH at 8300 RP.
4 Dodge Neon SRT-4
The SRT-4 was a performance model of the Dodge Neon, and was only produced for three years from 2003 to 2005. According to Motor Trend, the SRT4's in its last years of production it would have cost you $20,700. SRT, Street Racing Technology, a performance division of Chrysler later to become its own brand, The SRT-4’s 2.4-liter engine is turbocharged by Mitsubishi TD04-L-16GK creating 215 hp and an impressive 245 lb/ft of torque according to Car and Driver. The snotty little SRT-4 can reach a top speed of 153 mph, get to 60 mph in 5.6 and run a quarter mile in 14.2 seconds
3 Volkswagen Corrado G60
The VW Corrado G60 was only produced as a super charged 4 cylinder for a portion of its production, later to come with a VR6 in the years following 1992. With less than 100,000 of all models of the Corrados made worldwide in seven years of production, the Corrado is one the rarer cars to make this list. The supercharged inline four cylinder makes 158 bhp at 5600 rpm and 166 ft/lb of torque at 4,000 rpm. The Corrado weighing less than 2500 lbs was able to achieve a top speed of 140 mph according to Carfolio.
2 Toyota MR2 Turbo
The Toyota MR2 was first born in 1984, but after being discontinued in 1995 the MR2 was later brought back from the dead a convertible, adding spyder to its title.
Sadly, the MR2 Spyder was short lived, being discontinued just a few years of production.
The last year the MR2 was produced was in 1995, and according to Car Gurus will be a collector’s item for car collectors. The highest-end model MR2 received a 2.0-liter turbo charged engine, producing 200 hp at 6,000 rpm and an impressive 200 lb/ft of torque at just 3200 rpm according to Motor Trend.
1 Lotus Esprit S4S
The only supercar and the most expensive car to make the list; the Esprit had a base price of just over 80k back in 1995. The Lotus S4S was able to run quarter mile in 13 seconds flat, getting from zero-to sixty in 4.4 seconds. Built like a race car with a cornering stance and as Julia Roberts mentions in "Pretty Woman", the Lotus “Corners like its on rails.” Roberts also notes how close the petals are together, making it easier for a girl to drive it. The last thing you would expect the Lotus to be if fuel efficient, but surprisingly gets 27 mpg on the highway according to Car and Driver.
Sources: Caranddriver.com, TopSpeed.com, MotorTrend.com, CarBuzz.com, History.com