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One of the vehicles that General Motors provided for evaluation during their Powertrain Technology briefing was an Opel Astra equipped with a new 1.4L turbocharged four cylinder. This engine is a result of work that GM is doing to develop downsized turbocharged engines that can maintain reasonable levels of performance while improving fuel economy. This is a similar approach to that being taken by Volkswagen with their TSI and Ford with their upcoming Twin-Force engines.

The 1.4L turbo had an output of 140 hp paired up with a six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the VW and Ford engines, GM stuck with multi-port fuel injection on this engine instead of switching to direct injection. Nonetheless the engine produces as much power as the current 1.8L normally aspirated engine. On a short test loop that included highway speeds and a simulated urban environment, the engine proved to be very responsive with no noticeable lag.

The Astra itself is pretty much the car that will be appearing in Saturn dealerships this fall. Even though the Astra will be the entry-level model for Saturn, it will have a high level of standard equipment including both thorax and curtain airbags and ABS and traction control. From this quick drive it was clear that the Astra will probably be the best small car that GM has ever offered in the North American market. If they add direct injection it would be even better. No production date was stated for these small displacement turbocharged engines, but it seems safe to assume that they will appear in the next couple of years.

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