Honda has indeed been promoting its new Earth Dreams family of fuel efficient engines, and with good reason. The next generation of the Japanese automaker's powerplants are said to deliver more power with less consumption. You can't go wrong there.

So it has greatly piqued our interest that Honda has taken the wraps off the first diesel member of the Earth Dreams family. This 1.6-liter i-DTEC inline-four will be launched in the European version of the Honda Civic starting in the beginning of next year. The engine makes 118 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. It is made up of aluminum block and cylinder heads, and according to Honda, is the lightest diesel engine in its class.

Part of this new engine design is a fourth-generation Garret turbocharger, which features a variable-nozzle design. The speed of the turbo is also electronically controlled to optimize fuel efficiency and minimize turbo lag. The engine is designed specifically with the European market in mind, and will be produced in Honda's Swindon, UK manufacturing facility. Honda is capable of making 500 of these new diesel engines per day, which equates to one new engine every 138 seconds. Not bad for productivity.

So will this diesel mill come to the US market? Right now, it seems unlikely, but with diesel variants of other vehicles popping up in North America (there's that new C-segment Cruze Diesel on its way), it's not unthinkable that Honda would bring this engine over. Until then, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed. To pass the time, you can also check out the press release below and gallery above, featuring detailed engine photos.
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Honda Adds High Performance, Low Emission, Small Diesel Engine to the Civic line-up

The new 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine is the first engine from Honda's Earth Dreams Technology series to be launched in Europe. The engine will be introduced on the Civic at the beginning of 2013. Combining competitive power (120 PS) and class-leading torque (300 Nm @ 2000 rpm) with CO2 emissions of just 94 g/km the new Civic 1.6-litre i-DTEC offers impressive fuel economy and performance.
"The key focus of our Earth Dreams Technology philosophy is to balance environmental efficiency with the dynamic performance expected of a Honda," says Suehiro Hasshi, Large Project Leader for all Civic models in Europe including the 1.6-litre i-DTEC. "It is important that our cars are fun to drive."

"This is a new approach from the ground up," Tetsuya Miyake, Project Leader for the 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine. "There were no benchmarks for us because those targets would have been too low. We were determined to establish a benchmark of our own that our competitors would have to follow."

"Developing this engine has been all about smart, pure engineering," says Suehiro Hasshi. "Our motivation has been to make many small detail improvements that, together, make a major difference. That is the challenge and the beauty of the Earth Dreams Technology philosophy."

The new 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine has been specifically designed for the European market, to meet growing customer demand for low emission diesel engines. The new engine will be uniquely built for the European market at Honda's European manufacturing facility in Swindon, UK. Demonstrating the importance of this new diesel engine to Honda's sales plans in Europe, a new purpose built diesel engine production line has been installed at Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM). This new line is capable of producing up to 500 diesel engines in one day. Operating on a two shift pattern this equates to 1 engine every 138 seconds. The new line will produce both the new 1.6-litre i-DTEC and the existing 2.2-litre i-DTEC engines.

The 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine will also be applied to the new CR-V (also built at HUM) later in 2013, and the Earth Dreams Technology philosophy will be applied to all of Honda's power trains in the future.

The New Civic 1.6-litre i-DTEC: The Engine in Detail

Lightest Diesel Engine in its class

Honda's new 1.6-litre i-DTEC is comprised of an aluminium cylinder head joined to an open deck aluminium block. It is the lightest diesel engine in its class, weighing 47kg less than Honda's 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine.

All the individual components have been redesigned to minimise their weight and size and advanced production techniques have helped reduce weight even further.

The thickness of the cylinder walls has been reduced to 8mm, compared with 9mm for the 2.2-litre i-DTEC. This is an exceptional achievement for a diesel engine. In addition, lighter pistons and connection rods have been utilised in the 1.6-litre i-DTEC.

Reduced Mechanical Friction

The key target for Honda's development engineers was to reduce the mechanical friction of the 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine to the level equivalent of a petrol engine. "All the rotating parts have been carefully optimised to reduce their friction," says Tetsuya Miyake. For example, a shorter and thinner piston skirt has been used. At 1500rpm, the 1.6-litre i-DTEC has around 40% less mechanical friction than the 2.2-litre i-DTEC.
"This not only reduces emissions and improves fuel efficiency; it also improves the engine's response, both on and off the throttle, making the car more fun to drive. We have reduced the mechanical friction of the engine to the level equivalent of an existing petrol engine, which is an outstanding achievement."

Clever Turbocharger

The 4th generation Garrett turbocharger used on the 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine features an efficient variable-nozzle design and its rotational speed is precisely controlled by the car's electronics, minimising turbo lag and providing an optimal combination of low- to mid-range pull and high-speed performance. The turbo has a maximum boost pressure of 1.5bar.

Efficient Fuel Injection System and Air Flow

Honda's 1.6 i-DTEC uses a Bosch solenoid injection system which is capable of operating at a high pressure of 1800bar. A high fuel pressure means that the fuel is injected at a faster rate and the finer the atomization of the fuel spray. This improves the fuel mixing with the air resulting in a cleaner and more efficient combustion helping to achieve the low emissions and fuel consumption.
Honda's engineers have also worked to improve the volumetric efficiency of the cylinders, employing a high intake flow and a high swirl head port precisely controlling the combustion process to reduce hot spots that create unwanted emissions. The engine air flow is managed by using an EGR (Exhaust gas recirculation) system that operates at high and low pressure to reduce NOx emissions.