When buying a new car it’s common for shoppers to research various aspects of the new vehicle before they decide to sell their previous car, from interior elements such as entertainment systems and gadgets to functional features like boot space and MPG. Another key area many car buyers are interested in before purchasing a new car is engine size; a simple number, which can seemingly have a large impact on the performance, economy and value of a vehicle. But what does engine size mean, and how should it affect your willingness to purchase a car? Here, we’ll take a look at what engine size means, and why size doesn’t always matter!
For the most part, petrol engines are composed of at least one cylinder, which creates drive and thrusts the car forwards and backwards as required.
The unit in which car engines are measured, is cubic centimetres (cc), a number which defines the volume of fuel and air that is pushed through the engine by the car’s cylinders.
For example, a car with a 1,000cc engine (often referred to as a ‘1-litre’ engine) is able to displace one litre of an air/fuel mixture.
Also, these numbers are always rounded to the nearest hundred; for example, a 1,920cc vehicle would still be referred to as having a 1.9-litre engine.
Typically, the higher the number, the more powerful the engine is, but there are some exceptions to this rule when looking at more modern vehicles. Cars featuring ‘turbocharged’ engines can benefit from increased power and fuel efficiency without needing a higher cc, often allowing them to match a higher cc car that does not have a turbocharged engine.
As you can likely imagine, larger engines with an increased capacity for fuel and air require more fuel than smaller engines. This is especially true if you’re quick to accelerate, or drive at maximum speeds on long motorway journeys.
For drivers who are conscious about the amount of fuel they’re using, and ultimately the money they are spending, then a model with a large engine and cc may not be the best choice for them.
It’s also worth noting that cars with larger engines are often deemed ‘higher risk’ vehicles in the eyes of insurers, and can commonly result in owners getting stuck with higher insurance premiums.
However, the other side to this is increased performance and power, providing an exhilarating driving experience for those who appreciate a car that packs a punch.
When it comes to engine sizes, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what you really need from a car. If you’re financially secure enough to spend a little extra on the vehicle as well as higher fuel and insurance costs then higher-cc cars are likely less of a burden.
Similarly, for those who prioritise a more exciting driving experience over a more ‘standard’ vehicle just to help them navigate their daily commute, then cars such as the executive Audi A5 or sporty ‘hot hatches’ like the Ford Focus ST could rev your engine.
On the other hand, those who prioritise money saving through lower fuel costs, cheaper insurance premiums and even lower payments on the vehicle itself would likely be better suited to a more lightweight car with a lower cc. New models of city car such as the Peugeot 107 are short on space, top speed and acceleration, but are significantly more affordable to purchase and run than the cars mentioned previously.
Eco-conscious drivers may also want to explore the possibility of purchasing a car with a hybrid engine, which combines the power and range of a conventional engine, with the environmental benefits of an electric motor. These cars reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions in a number of ways, such as only running on electric power at take-off, or when driving at low speeds. The kinetic movement of the car returns energy to the battery during use of the petrol engine, recharging the car for when it returns to electric engine usage.
For middle-of-the-road buyers who are conscious of fuel economy and performance in equal measure, then you may want to find a car with a moderate engine size that has a turbocharged engine. These can offer improved performance without sacrificing too much in the way of fuel economy and affordable insurance premiums. Whether you’re looking for power or affordability of eco-friendliness, researching the engine size of each car you consider buying to see if it lends itself to your needs in a car is always worthwhile!