Just like that, General Motors has morphed into Government Motors, and Chrysler is counting on Tony to fix it again. If the thought of buying a car from a government-owned automaker, with a loan from a government-owned bank, and driving it back to your government-refinanced house doesn't get you excited, what will? In the midst of all this madness, a leaner and meaner Ford is asserting itself once again, recently selling off ballast such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Mazda to reduce overhead and dedicate its focus on the Blue Oval brand. As the only U.S. car manufacturer that hasn't been bailed out or gone bankrupt, it's not surprising that Ford seems the best adapted to meet the daunting market challenges ahead. Chief among them are new 35.5-mpg CAFE standards that will be phased in by 2016, and the public's growing demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. All this doesn't bode well for the V-8, and new car manufacturers are already rolling out a new wave of high-output six-cylinder engines in response. Ford is in on the action, too, having just introduced its 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 in the 2010 Lincoln MKS.
Utilizing twin turbochargers and gasoline direct injection, the EcoBoost V-6 produces 355 hp at 5,700 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque from 1,500-5,250 rpm. Not only is that 40 hp and 25 lb-ft more than the Mustang GT's 4.6L V-8, the EcoBoost weighs roughly 150 pounds less than its mod motor counterpart. Furthermore, the EcoBoost-powered MKS beats out rivals like the Lexus GS460 and Infiniti M45 in gas mileage, with an EPA city/highway rating of 17/25 mpg. That's slightly better than the Mustang's 16/24 figure, despite lugging around an extra 800 pounds of heft. Although it's premature to declare that the new crop of small-displacement, high-output engines represent the future of performance cars, their implications on the survival of the American auto industry and their potential impact on hot rodding is profound.
Duratec To EcoBoost
In a hobby where big displacement reigns supreme, the idea of downsizing-and actually getting excited about it-is an outrageous concept. Unlike the '70s, however, the breadth of modern technical aptitude means that giving up cubic inches for improved gas mileage doesn't have to come at the expense of performance. Ford's EcoBoost V-6 proves the point, and it's one bad little dude to say the least. This 3.5L mill features twin Garrett GT15 turbos, direct-injection, 24-valve heads, variable intake valve timing, a die-cast aluminum block, six-bolt main caps, a forged crank, and 10.0:1 compression. Compared to a V-8 of similar output, Ford says that the EcoBoost offers up to a 20 percent improvement in gas mileage and a 15-percent reduction in CO2 emissions. "The beauty of EcoBoost is that it enables us to downsize for fuel efficiency, yet boost for power. The turbos allow us to decrease the size of the engine-installing a V-6 versus a V-8 for instance-and deliver the power and torque of a larger engine," says Ford's Vice President of Global Product Development Derrick Kuzak.
Compared to a standard Duratec...
Compared to a standard Duratec 3.5L V-6, the EcoBoost's aluminum block features additional reinforcement ribs to reduce potential flex. The block's open-deck design is a consequence of the die-casting procedure. A die-cast block requires far less finishing machine work, as the contours of the die and block can be made much more precisely, however, unlike sand that can easily be drained from the cavities inside the block after casting, a reusable die must actually be pulled out of the finished block, making it very difficult to cast water jackets inside a closed deck. Since the cylinder sleeves in an open-deck block are only supported at the bottom, deck reinforcements must be wedged between the sleeves and the block to reduce distortion when subjected to high boost. Import racers have been doing this for quite some time.
Although the EcoBoost's crank...
Although the EcoBoost's crank is forged, its direct-injection system and precise engine management computer enable using less exotic powdered metal rods and hypereutectic pistons. The lower thermal expansion rate of the hypereutectic pistons allow running tighter piston-to-wall clearance for reduced blow-by. This also enables Ford to use low-tension rings.
Like most late-model motors,...
Like most late-model motors, the EcoBoost relies on a coil-on-plug ignition system to light the air/fuel mixture. The cylinder heads' hemispherical OHC layout positions the plugs centrally in the combustion chamber. The EcoBoost's advanced Bosch engine management computer can retard timing up to 20 degrees instantaneously.